Friday, August 31, 2012

Colored Leaves

One foliage which gives so much charm and color in the garden is the caladium, Caladium bicolor. They are planted for the beauty of their leaves and not necessarily for the blooms. In our hot tropics they come alive during the rainy season, but lay dormant under the ground during the dry season, leafless and sleeping. 

My caladiums are the old varieties, from friends, from old residential locations, or requested from some big clumps found anywhere in the country. In fact, once while I was in a garden show in a public area, I saw a very small caladium sprout on the roadside which i got and nurtured till it grows bigger and now already lovely.

 The above variety has normally very long petioles, so i planted it in shallow plastic container and nutrientless soil. I wanted it to be a bit nutrient deprived so it will get stunted, and hopefully not produce very long petioles. And there it is now, according to my wish, stunted with short petioles. This is just starting to grow, so it will be lovelier in a few weeks.

This variety also have very long petioles and wide leaves. The disadvantage of long petioles is the tendency to droop when there is water shortage. A strong sun is enough to wilt them, so i guess short petioles will be better. I planted this in an area with much eroded topsoil. The rock is basically calcareous or rich in limestone, so to get nutrients the plant has to crack the crevices. Again, my wish is granted, their petioles are shorter with narrower leaves.

are they not lovely?

 The above are of two varieties just starting to send off leaves. Can you see the rose as their muse!

 A month of rains without much intense sunshine propel this variety to produce more leaves. The intense red center and dark green margins make this a favorite.

 The above is not producing much leaves yet as it shares a small space with the Sansevieria. But this variety has comparatively shorter petioles and narrower leaves. I actually love this one.

 The oldest variety of them all, which could be the mother of most caladium hybrids. It has produced a lot of corms in the property, because i see a lot of volunteers anywhere. Sometimes i uproot them for a nicer spot.

 I have been a little guilty with this one. The first leaf is not yet ready to unfurl, but i don't have much time as I am leaving already for the city. Two days are not enough for it to totally open, so i helped it tenderly to open, so I can peep into its leaf design. It is not planted there purposely, so I don't know its exact patterns.

 The above is the forcedly opened leaf, but it still cling to its own curl.

So with force from my stronger hands, i pried it to open, although the margins are still adamant to follow me. I can now observe that its pattern is different from those which are already there with us, and i love it. This is actually just the first leaf to grow. It has a leathery almost transparent center, with totally absent chlorophyll, and just spread along the margins. 

You might disagree with me with the above photo. Yes you are right it is not a Caladium, even if their leaf shapes are the same. They are of the same family, but this is a taro or Colocasia esculenta.

ff   blumen zum wochenende
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Scenes from my 5th Floor Window

  Dawn Moon setting before sunrise

 Planes are always in my skies, but i seldom ride them these days!

 a very normal common morning

a gloomy rainy day, during typhoons these structures are invisible

a characteristically unusual sunset, i realized no two sunsets are the same, and they change by the minute

 Iglesia ni Kristo church in that special July night (their anniversary) when all lights are ON. This is the only night of the year when it is fully lighted. Throughout the year they are lighted only in front and some other strategic sides.

 my sunset is enchanting

Outdoor Wednesday: Click on the picture below to learn more...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Obssesive Gardening Wherever!

A Gardener, always a Gardener! 

Maybe there is also a thing called obsessive-compulsive gardener! I am shoved to the 5th Floor when I had a unit at this medium rise 7-floors-building. I have wonderful summer sunsets, that is really a plus, but real soil is what i miss, a soil i can hold, mold and bring to life. In the absence of real land or soil, a 5th floor dweller is deprived of a real garden! But blessings sometimes come in unusual packages. Wonder of wonders, the concrete ledge for the aircon was misplaced to the wrong spot, and an iron-clad area was placed at its left side, where the real opening for the aircon was correctly located. With the lack of tangible soil and a little misplaced ledge supposed to be for the airconditioning unit, i had an idea! I have the whole vacant concrete ledge for my pots. Isn't that a blessing for an O/C gardener? I am sure most of you my blogger friends will agree. That was the beginning of my funny garden on a 1.0m X 1.5m outside the window on the 5th Floor, west side of the building. I hope the administration will not prohibit me from doing so till i still want to maintain it.

Most of you are familiar with my 5th Floor Window views and sunsets, as I always post scenes from here

another lovely view from my 5th Floor Window, although this is far, only magnified by my telephoto lens

 Green onions luxuriantly growing. I got the seedlings from an officemate 

At the left of the green onions are also small green onions, which i don't know the term

newly sprouting upland kangkong or Ipomoea variety

 Can you see the CD at the bottom left? It is supposed to drive away birds which always cut the leaves of my plants. It glitters whne against the light so birds are scared. 

 These kangkong tops are used for shrimp stews, which is a favorite. I have topped this many times and they have saved me from food emergencies, when i arrived at night from the province without nothing to eat. Buying food from fast food chains has been too suffocating already.

Another plant above is the bitter gourd. Together with it in a round pot is the 'cholesterol plant' Gynura. They said it is really good in lessening tryglycerides, but I haven't used it. It grows so fast depriving my ampalaya of soil nutrients. Maybe i should discard it or plant in another pot of its own. Can you see the hanging succulent at the top left side? It is an Epiphyllum oxypetalum i got from a friend's house, i will eventually plant it in real soil in the province.

These are leaves from my ampalaya (bitter gourd, Momordica charantia). These are mixed with cooked mungbean seeds in a local food recipe. Sauteed with garlic, onions and tomatoes, it is a very healthy and appetizing vegetable and paired with fried fish, chicken or pork. Ampalaya is a bit bitter but proven to lessen blood sugar. Its bitterness gets some getting used to. 

 Despite harvesting leaves from my ampalaya, it somehow gave a fruit, however it is small and curled. I bet the leaves are not enough to sustain its fruiting. But I am not actually for the fruits, but for the leaves. So I am more than happy for my hanging vegetable garden. 

I also remember a saying I heard from my childhood playmate when i was just a teen-ager. The Three Essentials in this life are: (1) something to do, (2) something to love, and (3) something to hope for!

My hanging vegetable garden gives me all three!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Flood Falls

When i experienced visiting waterfalls in the country, I felt like I am so deprived of so much when a few months passed and no waterfalls is in the plans. Hearing the sounds and roars even before you reach the actual falls is like a musical arrangement, inspiring and exhilarating. Most falls here are a bit difficult to reach. Either we have to ride planes, boats, buses and other local transports to reach the place. Sometimes you even have to walk long distances trekking uphill. Others can be reached taking very deep ravines, and you are lucky if concrete steps are already constructed downwards on the very steep slopes. Sometimes, our companions even had to take the ziplines just to watch the falls on the top view. This last alternative,  however for me is not a means to a waterfalls, because i have the phobia for heights.

But I am easily pacified, if there are several waterfalls running through a body of water, I am already happy in seeing one or two of them. For several months now, I haven't seen any waterfalls yet, because we haven't been out of town. So last weekend, there was a heavy rainfall at home in the province. Despite my unhealthy condition because of intermittent fever due to overfatigue and coughing, carrying an umbrella and a jacket I went to the back of the property and tried to see a waterfall. I called it a Flood Waterfall, because it is small and just appear during heavy rains. It acted as a pacifier for me at that instance. I hope you can relate with me in this experience.
My Flood Falls is maybe just 9ft tall, this is the first time i see this.

 On my way back home, the cemented road is already ankle-deep in water, but i enjoyed walking through it.

This is the outflow from my Flood Falls

I returned to my Flood Falls the following morning when the rain stopped, and a small cave was in its place.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

An ER Experience!

After a week at home with unhealthy conditions due to coughing from allergic asthma, I instantly saw myself at the Emergency Room of a hospital at 1:30am. It was an unpleasant experience of food poisoning. I was alone in my house in the city, just arrived from a long weekend in the province and i suddenly cooked the 'fresh mushrooms' i still have in the refrigerator. I checked it, smelled it and cooked it well before having dinner. I didn't notice any unusual signs or symptoms of toxins, despite a few days in the refrigerator. That was the most telling experience i had and gave me the best of lessons. It didn't even taste any bit of difference than my usual taste for mushrooms. Then  three hours after eating dinner, i throw up and down, although i only had slight pain in the stomach. I thought i had exhausted all the intake for dinner, as well as my two tablets for the cough. It was my first time to experience something like that, and I got scared! So I packed some personal things hurriedly and decided to go to a hospital. Even if it is not safe anymore at that time after midnight, I asked the security guard of the buildings to call me a taxi. And there I went, I experienced the ER for the first time. 

After a series of tests, and some electrolytes to replace what i lost, it was already morning and I was already instructed to go home. If i hadn't been scared, I would already be okay in the house. The body's defensive cleansing already was enough for me to get well. I have already thrown out the toxins i ingested. So at 8:00  in the morning, I was back home, but I was so tired and exhausted from non-sleeping. So i slept the whole morning, but i lost my appetite. That could be another safety mechanism of the body after such an ordeal. And personally, i had the greatest lessons of my life! I hope not to do that again. 

very tall coconuts dominate this skyline

a palm's tiny nuts

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Floods and Butterflies?

Last dry season most people in this country waited for the rains, and maybe the prayers exceeded the optimum! Is there such a thing as overpraying, or excess prayers? This is because we are now having excessive rainfall. As the old saying goes 'when it rains it pours', and here when it pours there is flood! The rains did not leave us for 12 consecutive days today, 8 August 2012. And the weather bureau says it will possibly stop by Friday or Saturday, with a total of 14-15 days. We are now receiving 470mm or 60mm per 24 hours, with the consequence of having ninety percent (90%) of Metro Manila experiencing floods. The surrounding provinces somehow experience also the same wrath of nature. Most of the evacuated families are now staying in schools till the floods subside, which at the moment seem to be still unabatedly growing. Even National highways are periodically blocked by  high and rushing waters, and a lot of vehicles stranded on the roads. Schools and offices were closed Tuesday there's no way to move anyway. Watching TV is depressing and very stressful. There are also some casualties.

This is the 1st time that flooding of this magnitude happened here. And it happened not with a typhoon, just the southwest monsoon forced by a typhoon in South China. I wonder if this is ominous and significant!

Because our eyes and minds are already bombarded day and night by rushing waters, crying people, hungry and shivering evacuees, I will instead post  happier moments. I hope this will at least pacify my lonely soul and divert this loneliness to nicer feelings. I think psychologists call this strategy as sublimation. So sublimation, be it! I am having happier visuals. I am so blessed being with the only 10% in Metro Manila not affected by floods. (Sigh!)

As many of you know, that church in the horizon is a big landmark in most of my sunset shots, as viewed from my 5th floor window.  No sunsets are seen for the past two weeks, and the church is always in very grey surroundings.

 During excessive downpours, the church is nowhere to be seen, as in the above!

So with these abnormal situation we are in now, i will try to sublimate my visuals and thoughts to nicer things by posting my last weekend shots from our garden in the province. I am sorry I cannot put the scientific names here yet, as I forgot my external drive in the province, which I can still get only after three weeks. So please pardon me if they are not yet identified.

Many butterflies converge in my blue Duranta. We have other nectar plants like Ixora, Turnera subulata and Turnera ulmifolia, Lantana, but Duranta is much favored. They go to other plants only for a few seconds, but stayed longer with the Duranta erecta.

Above is black and white, while below is black and blue

....please pray for our people, to lessen suffering from continuous rains and floods, sickness and hunger! 

Thank you very much

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