Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blooming Friday - A Pinch of Green

Katarina of Roses and Stuff must have been thinking of those bloggers who are still in the winter season with thick snow in their gardens when she themed her Blommig Fredaq (Blooming Friday) today - A Pinch of Green. In that cold grey/white wintery scene there is hardly any green or any colour can be seen at this moment except maybe brown. But still in some warmer parts, a bit of colour here and there is beginning to show out of the thick snow. Here in the tropics, we have greens all year round, but still looking for a bit of green on a flower is not in abundance either. I was looking the whole garden front to back, for a streak or a pinch of green in any of the flowers in my garden and I found these.

pink agloanema, though the flower is white and green (courtesy of Stephanie)

thats all you get from this flower...its not going to bloom any bigger

green stems of water hyacinth with its green guest
hydrangea turning from green to purple

some seeds from a purple lily plant...some are still green

a tiny bit green in the centre of Impatient

flower of long bean, greenish with a bit of light purple

streaks of green on this white spider blooms

which part of this flower is green can you see?...its green stamens of eggplant flower

water orchids

A pinch of green in a cold, cold white wintery scene is just like a pinch of salt in a bland and tasteless food. Will warm your heart and makes you want to jump with joy and celebrate!

At the same time since its Fertiliser Friday, Im flaunting my blooming flowers hosted by Tootsie of Tootsie Time. Lets visit her for more blooming flowers!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pistia Stratiotes

Commonly called water cabbage or water lettuce. Why? Their soft thick leaves form a rosette with wavy margins just like a cabbage or lettuce. Too bad its not edible or I would have endless supply of them for salad! It is a genus of aquatic plant in the family of Araceae, found in the tropical, subtropical and warm temperate fresh waterways and ponds.

beautiful green rosettes

The tiny flower is hidden right in the middle of the rosette. Can you see it? No? Well..Im not too sure either if its there because it looks the same to me.....all green colour! Its supposed to bear little green berries after successful fertilisation. But so far I haven't seen them or maybe Im not observing them too closely. The male and female flowers are on the same plant for asexual reproduction. Mother and daughter are connected by stolons which will form dense mats on the water surface.

the roots underneath the rosette

The basket-like shape of the plant traps air bubbles which keep it afloat, while the roots are submerged in the water. Because of the growth habit of the plants, it is considered an invasive weeds clogging and affecting the biodiversity of waterways and ponds in some countries. The dense mats of Pistia block the air-water gas exchange in the water, reducing oxygen and killing fish. They also block light which kill the community of submerged plants.

invasive water cabbage covering my pond
By the end of each week, a thick mat of Pistia will form on my pond, covering almost all surface. I have to throw basketful of them or give out to my siblings and friends who want them, to save my koi. But the plants are also good as they protect small fish and fry under their leaves. They also outcompete with algae for nutrients in the water, thereby preventing the invasion of massive algal blooms.
a single layer Pistia just like the one my blog you can clearly see the tiny round green flower in the middle
the koi also nibbles on the thick soft leaves of Pistia

Pistia Stratiotes in my garden, started with only 5 rosettes given by a cousin, and since then they have multiplied so fast and furious. Other countries considered them as an invasive troublesome weeds, clogging waterways which need to be destroyed. Here, we are clamouring for them as a must-have aquatic plant in our gardens' water feature!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Gorgeous update

Today one of the three roselle (hibiscus sabdariffa) plants in my vegetable bed has bloomed its first and gorgeous! When I bought them, they were a sorry lot, so skinny, stunted and diseased (lots of mealy bugs). I guess that was why I got them very cheap. Plants nobody wanted! When I brought them home, I pinched all the diseased leaves and cut the tops off, got rid of the white mealy bugs and sprayed some homemade pesticide. One plant grew very well than the rest, double the height of those stunted two. Those two are still looking miserable but an improvement from their original sorry state.

first Roselle bloom...hello gorgeous!

pink roselle

brighten my day...

I can see 3 more flower buds on the plant
When I told Bangchik my roselle plants were not very healthy (with a very sad face!), hoping he could 'throw' some roselle seeds my way...hehe..He implied, since I have my 'plant hospital' I could surely nurse them back to health! Actually the 'hospital' is for my potted plants that need to be in the shade (under my mengkudu tree) to recuperate. Anyway Bangchik, its ok since I have one plant that is healthy and hopefully will produce seeds for future planting.
My Harvests

first home-grown water spinach (kangkung)

okra, capsicums, tomatoes, chillies

eggplants, tomatoes, long beans, okra

My Vegetable Beds

pumpkin patch

herbs - Indian Borage, lime (limau kasturi), Thai basil, mint, daun selasih (local basil), rosemary, daun kesom (Vietnamese mint)
.....I transfered some of those from pots into my new raised bed

eggplants, sweetcorns
Its the first time I grew potatoes after reading a post on potatoes at Diana's garden (Kebun Malay-Kadazan Girls), I dont know if there will be lots of potatoes coming my way...keeping my fingers crossed!

I have sown some green leafy vegetables seeds like pak choys, kailan, red spinach (amaranthus tricolor)and lettuce. So far only pak choy and red spinach has germinated with 4th leaves now, the rest..I dont know...maybe all kaput! Must give another try soon...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Musical outdoor...

Music fills our life even without us realising it. But different people interpret it differently. To some, they sound like music but most people will describe it as noise, unbearable and a nuisance! In my life music starts from dawn, the Azan from the nearby mosque, will call/summon the Muslims to remind them of their morning prayer. Then about 6.45 am, I can hear the burung kelicap, chip chirping near my bedroom window. I thought they have a nest on my mengkudu tree, but when I went to have a look...there was nothing. It seems that the birds, though I cant identify all of them, are making my tree their resting place during the day and sleeping time at night. They are congregating in my garden maybe because of my Selamat Datang (Welcome) sign I hang there!

Welcome sign in my garden, welcoming everybody, friends and foes, birds and the bees, caterpillars, butterflies and grasshoppers.....!

burung kelicap like this, chip chirping on my mengkudu tree every morning!
My neighbour's cockerel used to cock-a-doodle-do every morning, just like in a kampung when I was a kid. Then suddenly there were no morning calls from him. When I enquired, I was told that he was stolen by somebody....haha...luckily not eaten by the fox! Its such a novelty when you get morning calls from a cockerel when you live in a city.

Then I have this water running out from the urn in my pond, in front of my bedroom window, to soothe my nerves in the early morning and lull me to sleep at night. The trinkling of the water is a soft melodius music to my ears! And adding to that, the musical mating croaks of the frogs near my pond during the rainy season, sound like the air organ, so masculine and booming but still music to the ears (at least mine)!

bamboo wind chime from Langkawi, a tropical in nature and appearance and natural in sound....
What else are making music outdoor? Yes....the wind chimes! A visual and aural garden ornaments played by the wind. I love them, so I hang a few in my garden, to be entertained by their own musical chimes while pottering around in my garden. I can hear the klak, klak, klak low notes of the bamboo wind chimes when there's a strong breeze.

the seashells wind chime, not only charming looking but melodius in sound..

Japanese wind chime with the 'flag' fluttering in the wind making sweet music..

The memory of such sweet music from a wind chime, was when I heard it at my uncle's house when I was small. My uncle married a beautiful Chinese lady from Taiping. It was a simple jade wind chime like the Japanese wind chime above, hung near one of their windows, which left a deep imprint in my brain until now! Some culture like the Chinese, wind chimes are good to have around your house to chase away the evil and bad spirits and to welcome good fortune. But to some people, like my late Dad, though at times he was quite an open-minded person, believed having wind chimes was like making invitation or signal to those evil spirits to come and party at our house! So no wind chimes when he was around, very pantang (taboo)!

The shrill ting ting ting of the aluminium and glass wind chime, my son gave me a few months back, can be heard from inside the house if its windy in the garden. So I'm bringing the outside music in. With the klak klak of the bamboo and the softer tinkling sound of the seashells, my day is complete with the sounds of music from the garden. Not noise, but music to my ears!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fanciful Portulacas

Portulacas are so a common a plant, you can almost found them in most garden here. They are low-growing and spreading plants and very easy to grow by using stem propagation. You can just pinch and stick it in the soil and soon you have thriving plants. Portulacas Grandiflora are commonly known as Moss Rose or Sun Plant but here they are called Japanese Rose. They come in so many beautiful cultivars about 100 of them and bright colourful blooms, whether double or single layers. Here are some of the varieties grown in my garden, either in hanging pots or on the ground.

dark pink double layer

very small yellow blooms

single layer Yubi pink

Sunnyside Yellow

Sunnyside Flame (peach)

2 colours in a pot - Sunnyside yellow and peach (double layer)

Fairytale Cinderella Orange

Fairytale Cinderella Pink

Fairytale Cinderella with 2 colour combinations in one pot

Single layer Yubi Yellow flower

Yubi Yellow

the Yubi varieties are those with big single layer blooms

white double layer

Yubi white single layer

single and double layer white portulacas in one pot

These fanciful colourful portulacas are shown for Blooming Friday themed Fanciful hosted by Katarina of Roses and Stuff and Tootsie/Glenda's Flaunt Your Flowers/Fertiliser Friday. Lets take a peek at their gardens and see what's blooming this Friday.