Monday, December 27, 2010

Coleus (ati-ati)

Who doesn't love coleus! They are the most loveable easy-to grow houseplant, whether indoors or outdoors. They are grown in containers, hanging baskets, or directly on the ground in the garden in groups as borders, like mine. What is attractive about coleus is not the flowers, but the colourful leaves with varieties of patterns. Very tender plant, thrives in sunshine but grows well in the shades with well-drained soil. Coleus can be grown from seeds or propagation. Its sooo easy to grow and maintain.. If you let them grow too leggy, they will not look so nice, so regularly pinch them so that new shoots will grow bushy and compact.
my group of coleus when first grown outside the fence a few months back, as a border under the shades of my mulberry bushes, in between yellow and white tunera

love this one best, for the contrasting colours of dark red with bright green border

now there are so many cultivars and hybrids with very colourful, contrasting and variegated

the leaves maybe green, pink, yellow, black (very dark purple), maroon and red resembling the caladium though they are not related..

I intend to get more varieties of colours for the borders here as they really brighten up the monotonous green of the mulberry bushes

the purplish blue flower florescence of coleus, very small compared to the leaves, should be cut to halt the elongation of the stems, as coleus is not generally grown for its flowers

Coleus is a prennial member of the mint family and is a popular traditional herbal medicine in ancient times. It is also known as Flame Nettle, Painted Nettle, The Poor Man's Croton. But now it has gained popularity when a chemical extract of the roots called Forskolin have medicinal properties to treat asthma, bronchitis, glaucoma, congestive heart failure, to lower blood pressure and some other conditions too. It is said to bring down blood pressure by drinking the water of boiled coleus leaves. I wonder whether the lovely leaves can be eaten as ulam (salad)?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Updates on my veggies

My backyard has been a new home to my vegetables, Japanese cucumber, ladiesfinger (okra), capsicums, chillies, regular tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and eggplants. They seemed to thrive well there maybe because of the full sunlight they received and the fresh breeze from the Ampang River and of course my tender and loving care! I noticed that they also seemed to fare much better in pots than on the ground! I intend to improve the soil on the beds with new raised beds and new compost for my next gardening project next year. Next year...seem so far away..but actually about a week more! I have been putting off the work, just thinking about it make me sooo tired since Im doing it alone...sigh*
my veggies in a row along the chain fence

lone Japanese cucumber when it started

how it has grown with many male flowers than female ones

The only survivor of my Japanese cucumber has grown so well in its new home showing me lots of new blooms since the first one Here. I have noticed that the plant has 2 types of blooms, so I presume this is another plant that has male and female flowers on the same plant. I see that the ants like my cucumber plant and guess they act as polinators. They are more male flowers than female ones on the plant, so all they need is a good polinator to get connected. Besides the ants, I have seen butterflies hovering around but never get the chance to photograph one yet.

female flower blooming

baby female flower...notice the black dots there, I think maybe they are baby aphids, not sure though...but I have brushed them off

more female flowers..the one on the background has dropped off completely one week after this photo was taken, maybe it didn't get polinated from the male flower

lovely baby cucumbers!

another one...hope I can sink my teeth on them before some pest get them first!

I think this is capsicum, not sure, might be chilli though...I just threw some capsicum seeds (green, yellow, red) with some chilli seeds in a planter box

it is flowering now

my lone survivor cherry tomatoes with lots of fruits! Remember I got 2 plants Here
then the other one withered and died!

Now the tomatoes are bigger than my thumb..waiting for them to ripen. Should I wrap them or just leave them be? Im worried about the musang (fox) that came at night to eat my papaya, it might be tempted to taste the tomatoes too! Even if I wrap those tomatoes, nothing to stop the fox from peeking under the wrap right?

baby ladiesfinger (okra)

see how it has grown...I have 2 plants here

my first harvest of ladiesfingers within 3 days...not bad!

....end up in my pot of asam pedas! besides asam pedas (kind of tangy spicy soup) I love to stir-fry with a bit of tumeric powder and prawns and also as ulam (blanche it first) to eat with sambal belacan!

So these are my first attempt at growing vegetables and I really like what I have done so far, the thrills of seeing the first fruits of my labour is the climax of it all! I hope the coming new year will see me trying my hand at more greens with the new seeds I have bought from MAHA 2010 and Diana (Kebun Malay-Kadazan girls) sent me all the way from Australia!
So here wishing you all bloggers who celebrate Christmas, have a Merry Christmas and good tidings and a Happy New Year for all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

My hanging garden

You have heard of Hanging Garden of Babylon, well....these are my hanging garden. Hanging pots of plants make up for a large part of my small garden. First and foremost, they are supposed to be hanged because of the nature of the plants, with trailing stems, vines and tendrils. Then there's an arbor (pergola) which was built for my grape vines which took quite a while for it to grow and climb. For aesthetic reason, I thought it look better with hanging pots so they dont look so bald. Moreover, because of space constraint in my small garden, the only available place for the pots are up in the air!part of my hanging garden, petunias and fern

begonia 'Looking Glass'

Flame Violets

trailing periwinkle
the stems will hang down as they grow, more delicate than the normal one,
the leaves just dropped and the plant was completely bald last month!

Asparagus Densiflorus Sprengeri (courtesy of Stephanie of Steph's Green Space)


spider plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)
you can just cut the baby spiders and plant them elsewhere, very easy to grow

strawberry plant
have to transfer to another pot since they have more than one there
when I bought a few months back, it was fruiting with 10 strawberries!


flowering Cane Begonia

baby bird's nest fern or spleenwort

I think its another type of flame violets

Wandering Jew - a varigated type

Besides hanging them on the arbor, my mengkudu tree serves as a hanging place for those plants that need more shades or for those plants that have finally come to the stage where they need to be taken down. Sort of a 'hospital' for my dying hanging potted plants to recuperate, with tender loving care, I nurse them back to health...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GBBD December

Here comes the rain....again!
Rain or shine, my garden gives me endless pleasure, hardwork and of course endless weeding! Its that time again for the Garden Bloggers' Blooming Day!
grasshopper romancing my water hyacinth a bit unusual, always see them on my okra's leaves

yellow tunera overrides my white tunera at the moment

frangipani with its sweet scent is having a blooming time this rainy season, just bought the white ones recently, the ones we can find in cemeteries...but still not blooming yet

glorious morning glory giving beautiful highlights on my mulberry bushes

the only flowering bougainvilla (only have 2) at the moment even in this rain, making my garden looking pink!

darker shade of hanging pot of perinwinkle, I have given up on these when they went bald suddenly, luckily they came back with vigour and more flowers!

last but not least, my pink periwinkle I transplated to the ground next to the pond

Rain or shine or winter, what flowers are blooming in your garden now, if any? Go to my sidebar and click on Mays Dream Garden
and join us bloggers for GBBD monthly affair!
Happy holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pecah Kaca

Pecah kaca literally translated meaning 'breaking glass', botanically known as Strobilanthes Crispus or also known as Black Face General (hei mian jiang jun). Originally from Madagascar, then to Indonesia but now it thrives so well in Malaysia.
I came across this plant during the recent MAHA 2010 Exhibition and realised that I have this plant all along in my own garden outside the fence, fighting for space in between the mulberrry, the curry leaves tree and the cashew nut tree. I just didnt know the name of the plant! I planted it outside the fence, a few years back given by my friend the Professor in a small pot. It is easy to grow as it is a no-fuss plant and can be propagated using the stems.

The dark green leaves are rough to the touch but have an attractive glossy sheen

too bushy and healthy, need to cut them back regularly
I remembered the plant was so small when I planted it. Look at it now, so robust and green! I have to trim it every few months because it spread so fast covering my other plants. I was just thinking, before MAHA 2010, that I wanted to dig up and threw the plant away, since it has become so invasive! Then MAHA 2010 mentioned about the plant's medicinal values, how it has been in a limelight in recent years for its anti-cancer and anti-HIV properties among other things. It is also known to treat uterine fibroids, leukaemia, kidney stones, snake bites and diabetes.

Green Culture Singapore
the flowers looking a little like allamanda

The plant rarely produces flowers, the flowers are yellow but so far, I have not seen mine flowering yet, all green leaves! The fresh leaves can be juiced or pureed and consume direct or it can be used as an infusion and drink like a tea. It can be also dried first, boil in hot water and drink it with sugar like a tea.
Luckily I didnt throw the plant away!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Whats blooming in my garden today

No birthdays, no annivesaries, no admirers to give me bouquet of flowers.....but I love to have them around me in my garden at all times!

costus woodsonii or red button a clump, the hot red colour
blooms cheer up my small garden

chrysanthemums...have to put them in shade with these rain!

senduduk (tibouchina urvilleana) nursery version, not the wild thing you find on the roadside, the colour is very dark magenta, here they look more blue..

first weed (name unknown)

but looking at my backyard, the weeds are having a field day, with lush and healthy covering on my fence and any available little cracks on the cement especially in this rainy season

second the small bright yellow flowers everywhere looking like miniature sunflowers

third weed....lovely little white flowers with light purple stripes in the centre

Weeds?! time for weeding now the rain is here almost everyday...besides I imagine creepy crawlies (like pacat) crawling up my arms!!!!