Friday, January 28, 2011

Morning Moon for Skywatch Friday

Hello everyone. I've been away since last Friday and haven't posted here for the whole time. In moments of fatigue like today, i will just be posting a skywatch photo, a moon in the morning as seen at the west sky.

Please visit other Skywatch Friday posts.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Skywatch Friday: January 14, 2011

I was exploring my new neighborhood when i reached a knoll where restos and coffee shops are located. The downward side is a golf course, and the eating places are definitely placed there to pacify the cravings of tired golfers, as well as their friends. Serendipity strikes again! As i reached the gate the sunset effects started to show on the sky far from where the sun sets. It was amazingly wonderful, far more beautiful than the normal scenes i see from my 5th Floor Window.

I suddenly remembered a line from Lord Alfred Tennyson's, 'the blue mystery of twilight, in the opaline haze of sunset", as portions of the sky really look like precious opals still uncut. I am sorry I already forgot the title of his work, but I reckon the lines very well now. I am also very glad my camera clung with me.

Can you see the small moon above the coconut?

Please visit  Skywatch Friday posts

P.S. Thank you very much Carolyn of carolynsshadegardens for pointing my mistake, saying it's Edgar Allan Poe's. It's been decades without defragging the brain, so information already intermingled in my head, haha!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Cymbidium Sad Story

This is the profuse growth of my native Cymbidium orchids. It started as a few plants clasping a lanzones tree, which through the years have grown to this size. We can see that a hen cannot resist the temptation of using its center as a nest, maybe it looks so cozy for her to lay her eggs on.

It has been producing lots of cascading inflorescences through the years. The flowers are slightly fragrant, which open in succession in one spike. Each spike lasted for ~1 week, when other spikes begin to grow , so the whole series of flower show lasts for about 2 months.

It is a native species,  C. finlaysonianum, and you can see the elongated internodes of the spikes, reaching more than one meter in length. Another native species of the country is the reddish colored C. atropurpureum. These species, unlike the hybrids, can tolerate neglect and lengthy dry season. However, dry season last year maybe overly long that killed most of the plants.

  Above shows the newly growing spike of this plant from the remnant of the long dry season last year.

You can see the extent of drying in this photo. Most plants died, leaving only a few green at the back. Despite that,  some spikes are still produced by the survivors. The hens cannot nest on it anymore, as the eggs will be vulnerable and  will easily slide down. My mother removed this large chunk of dead remains, leaving only the few green ones.

I forgot to say, the lanzones tree also died leaving the orchid unshaded. I hope it tolerates the coming dry season, which hopefully will not be as long as last year.


The above 2 photos, at the left shows the dead plants with a few remaining greens, and at the right with only the remaining green plants. It would probably be years before inflourescences will come out again consecutively. More vegetative growth is needed first before regaining the old clump size. No more sweet fragrance from it for the next few years. Definitely, we will miss it.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Small Amaryllis Experiment

Amaryllis, Hipeastrum puniceum,  is a perennial fixture in our garden in the province. I thought it has been there since i was born, they were maltreated, abused, thrown away, disowned and given some unwanted behaviors given only to weeds by  some people. I've posted it a few times in the PAST with some sentimental thoughts and some insightful ideas. They flower only after the first heavy rains in May-June, produce luxuriant leaves after, and then hide, or better said lay dormant the rest of the year. We forget everything about them  till they produce the lovely  orange flowers again.
Because blogposts from winter climates said they force them to flower, coupled with my normal impatience in waiting for things, i also tried a little experiment. I dug some bulbs and brought them to the city, where i stay most of the time. I only visit the province on my free weekends, and those are really once-in-a while. I  put a bulb on a small fruitjam bottle, and another on a yellow plastic oil bottle. Basis for choosing these containers is the size of their opening which favorably held the bulbs in place. These are the only containers available that time, i don't want to go out to look for more suitable containers.

It's been January again so i thought of this results which were actually done the same month last year. It is serendipitous as i am also experimenting on making collages, which i have been shelving for sometime because i thought it could be very difficult. So you will be viewing results of 2 experiments:  amaryllis forced to flower, and  trials in making collage.
Above mosaic shows the progress of the bulbs. Top layer shows bulb on the yellow bottle producing a flower spike and a leaf. The enlarged photo of the bulb on the jambottle seems to be producing the same as well although a bit delayed. The top photo is taken 3d after planting while the bottom taken after 7 days.
The bottom layer shows  flower spikes growing faster than the leaves. Even at the early stages, the flower spike already shows a bit of orange hue. The whole duration from planting to full opening of the flowers took two weeks. Of course you very well know that all the flowers in one spike do not open at the same time, all the time.
The above mosaic shows another set of experiment i did after finishing the first trial. One bulb did not flower but produce just leaves. It could be still immature bulb still small to flower. Most of the spikes here produce 2-3 flowers. I've noticed also that the spikes are longer than when they are on the ground. That is because the lights received indoors are not sufficient. Insufficient lights produce  etiolation and elongated stalks.
Some sample close-ups of the flowers. There are flowers still there at least a month after planting, and because i planted 2x in succession, i have flowers for more than 2 months. Maybe i should try selling bulbs online here in the country, together with a procedure for doing it. These can make very beautiful gifts if done in nice containers, complete with ribbons and a card. One can choose what stage of development to buy, depending on the date of the occasssion.

What do you say Friends? I am calling Solitude Rising, or Onenezz or Autumn Belle we can have  partnerships for these venture.

Disclaimer: (haha) I apologize for having the worst conditions for experiments, variable bulb size, variable container, variable depth of water for roots, and a lot more varied here. Further, there is no replication which must at least be 3. I suppose i am also biased to prefer the nicer and faster growing bulb, and i suppose i used it for more photos. Please rest assured that i fully know the requirements of a sound and scientific way of doing experiments, complete with statistical analysis, graphs and figures to the nearest significant places, and i have publications to show my work! But time has changed! Maybe doing things the right way is not as fun as doing it totally different, not actually wrong, just totally different.

Just please bear with me coz I am enjoying this! and thank you....


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Intermission - Ferns

Left: maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum)
Right: looks like a fern but not fern (just my trip to put here)

Asparagus fern (Asparagus plumosa)

Not a fern but relative of the asparagus vegetable

Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)
Top view looks like a nest, but birds don't make nests there
Tree Fern (Cyathea spp.)

Hearts for Culinary Use

The torch ginger, Etlingera elatior, is a very common tropical plant. It has been posted many times in the past. In fact Autumn Belle had lots of information about it last year. However i have some nice photos of different maturities , so we can distinguish the progression of appearance from the bud to the more mature stages. So even if you might find it redundant, i still opted to post it. Some peepers, passers-bye and latecommers like my friend, Ma'ligaya might find them stress-relieving.

Even if Malaysians find the heart of this torch ginger irresistible as ingredient in their soups, still we have not tried it yet in this country. Maybe in the future we will surely try its culinary purposes. We already use as vegetable the unopened blossoms of the plantain or cooking banana, Musa balbisiana. When the last fruits emerged in the bunch the unopened blossom is severed from the banana fruit bunch and used as vegetable. It can be cross sectionally sliced to very small pieces and mixed with ground pork or chicken sautee with onions and garlic. It can also be mixed with coconut milk with salt and pepper and pork or chicken can be mixed depending on preference. Or it is mixed with some leafy green vegetables like, Moringa oleifera, or chili pepper leaves to make a stew. Even just boiled and eaten with spicy vinegar can already be a good salad.

The heart (colloquial term) or the growing point inside this blossom can be eaten fresh upon opening. It has lots of anti-oxidant properties because of the phenolics it contains. You might want to try it when you see a banana blossom in the market. You can just eat the heart and cook the rest. As a warning though, you cannot eat the rest of the blossom as it is astringent and slightly bitter when uncooked. Only the heart at the middle is good to eat raw. Happy experimenting!

Top left shows the growing flower, distinguised by the colored sheaths versus the vegetative shoots which are all green from sprouting

Different stages of maturity are well displayed in these photos

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Garden Resort

A garden resort (Rafael's Farm) we found in Leyte, Philippines is a good venue for meetings and receptions. It is a rolling plane formerly planted to coconuts. Today, it is an idyllic place enticing you to convert your piece of land  to have the same developments. I even have our landscape very well designed already, in my mind. There is already a butterfly garden in one area, a stable for mini horses in one area, a short zipline to join 2 ridges together, and even a canopywalk to complete the thrill of young people. And i have been contemplating of a development like this in our property in the province, only one thing is lacking...FUNDS! In fact i envy a friend, Solitude Rising, whom i've just met here in blogspot, whose dream of having a landscaped farm is already being fulfilled. He is doing it on remote control, but he is succeeding.

This old wok with flowers greets the visitors in the lounging area. The white flowers are Thunbergia grandiflora while the yellows are probably Allamanda cathartica or yellow bells.

 I am very much fascinated by this roof shed. The nipa leaves were covered with net and the roof maintained good moisture at the edges providing a nice condition for these ferns to grow luxuriantly. How enticing it is to be under it, relax, read a book, or just sit and watch the beautiful surroundings.

This seat provides a good resting area either singly or in pair. It is positioned in a moderately shaded area of different kinds of palms for comfortable sitting.
 This is a small sitting area, where one can order drinks. It also contains some antiques collected by the owner through the years. At the front left corner is a pond of ornamental fishes like koi and at the side are tilapia which can be caught by hook and line for fun. You can catch and cook them for lunch in a nearby grill. You will just pay for the weight of the fish you caught.

During our visit we saw pairs of ducks swimming in the above pond, they look so beautiful gliding through the placid waters. 

Other areas of the property are planted with ornamental plant groupings according to their requirements, e.g. succulent garden, rainforest garden, orchid garden, foliage garden and flower garden.

The circuitous foot walks are molded concrete with various leaf designs. Topiaries of different foliage colors provided very nice accents. Those chairs can be very inviting in the mornings and afternoons when the sun is not yet too high.

At the other end of the property is a tall hut built on a tree, "a tree house", which can accomodate a small group for some rounds of drinks, or a singing session. Unfortunately, i was not able to take a photo.

other nook features in this garden

The washrooms
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