Thursday, December 12, 2013

Orange Invaders

The plants i am featuring here are very common plants with wide range of temperature tolerance. They are normally seen in parks and gardens for a very long time that we don't even think that they are not natives. I chose them here either as easily grown and/or invasive. But even if they are invasive, they are still grown for their beauty and their role with the insect population specially butterflies.
Ixora originated from India and Sri Lanka, now popular in tropical America like Florida and Texas and other tropical countries of the world. My orange Ixora is gathered by my mother from relatives and neighbors, now already a permanent resident in our garden, as it is planted on the ground as hedges.

 Lantana came from the tropical regions of America and Africa, later introduced to almost all places in the world. My orange lantana above is from a far province in the Visayas, which is Bohol, an island just recently hit by 7.2 magnitude earthquake. This is loved by our butterflies.

 Four o'clock, Mirabilis jalapa is also called Marvel of Peru because it came from South America, maybe one of which is Peru. It got the name because if opens in the afternoon and remains open till early morning the next day. It produces lots of seeds and also a root that also remains alive even during droughts. These characteristics make it an invasive species.

My niece and the daughter of my cousin, when they met after several years. My cousin's daughter is an OFW and come home only once-in-a while. They explore places, so i consider them invasives...hahaha!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Skywatching Non-stop!

Non stop skywatching! If you are living on the 5th Floor, with a window facing the west overlooking a landscape with patches of buildings here and there, an overpass at a distance crossing a major big highway, normally full of vehicles, potpouri of trees with houses, and a big sky; where will your attention be drawn into? I look at all of them, sometimes one patch at a time.

But of course, the sunset is what i always wait to capture. And sometimes i cut office hours to just anticipate its nice performance at the end of the day! I am so privileged to have this view, so i am happy always to share them with you.

When i am sitting on my sofa, this is my picture frame, adorned with my plants purposely planted for effects. The plants' ability to filter the pollution from the vehicles nearby is just secondary. At the right are ginger plants, while at the left are hippeastrum, all plantboxes placed on top of the airconditioning unit. 

 A few minutes after sunset, my picture frame becomes this, the highway lined with streetlights with the farthest tall structure being the church of Iglesia ni Kristo (Church of Christ). 

 The morning after a full moon night, i always wake up with a moon at the west, a few meters before setting in the horizon. This eventually fades fast because of the rising sun at the opposite end of the sky.

 Even with some clouds in the horizon the full moon still gives a lovely view. If i didn't tell you that this is the setting moon at the west, you might mistake it as sunrise or moon at the east with those colored rays.

Occassionally, i am also privileged to see a rainbow in the morning. In my three years of living in this building I have seen rainbow many times. Sometimes however, it is already fading when i look outside, just like this one which i suppose is longer and brighter a few minutes ago. Just like changes in sunset colors, rainbows also quickly fades. I might not be able to locate the pot of gold at its end, but the lovely feelings i have everytime is just like finding some gold, though just only a few ingots instead of bars!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Borrowed Views

My friend just had a house in an exclusive village outside the metropolis. It is a vacation house when she wants to be away from the busy humdrum of the city and sniff some newly produced oxygen untainted with automobile exhausts. The food is also exquisite, the spa offers a wonderful body tune-up, and the views are Shangrila-like. The right side is overlooking a lake with a volcano, with a lake. Can you visualize it? And the left is draped with fully green curtain of naturally growing trees in a natural forest. Are you still with me? And the front side on the terrace offers the best view of sunrise from another lake in the horizon. And while looking at all these there is wonderful food and coffee. Oh how nice to have someone like her, I am not capable of having such luxury, but I have a friend who has. Thanks God for friends.

Red salvia lined the streets to her place.

Another hedge is planted to lantana, and below is a lovely pool of white rainlilies. 

The butterflies seem to be very happy fluttering among the flowers, and i am happy too. 

A view in one window shows some cluster of houses still in construction, and beyond them 
is the ridge-curtain of green forest.  

This sunrise i will not get tired of watching and shooting again, and again, and again!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My 5th Floor Pets

Pets are basically not allowed where i live in the city. Four legged breathing entities are banned inside condominium units, but sometimes 6-legged ones can easily get in.  Rooting entities are not mentioned as exemptions, so I opted to have them. There are units with indoor plants, so they open the curtains during the day for light to feed them. I am the only one with plants outside the window as i am facing the west position not very obvious to the public. So i have them both inside and out. 

 Caladium bicolor is trying its best to live inside the room, with only some light passing through the west glass window.  It is not doing its best but it gives me some color.

 Bitter gourd or ampalaya is living outside the window, creeping on the cement wall aided by other plants near it. A variegated hoya at the background is allowing its tendrils to hold on tight, and the hoya gets some partial shade from its leaves, i hope it is a good symbiotic relationship.

 My hippeastrum puniceum is growing profusely. A lot of bulblets are growing simultaneously with the mother bulbs. I have a lot of bulblets to give friends at the end of the season before the dry season starts.

 And inside my big bathroom i have basins of water to help these other unusual entities. These are oyster mushrooms. I have 5 of those bags which produce them at staggered intervals. The above bag is producing a good harvest than can give me a plateful of delicious omelet.

One bag obviously got too dry when i went home to the province one weekend. Only one big mushroom is produced during the first growth. These bags still produce more growths several times before it finally succumb to contaminating fungus. The above round shape is not a common shape for this species. 

This omelet is one of the plenty of omelets i've produced from the very productive mushroom bags. Those green spring onions are also from a pot in my window garden. My living pets are giving a lot of satisfaction not only for the show they are giving me through their growths but also through the food they provide me.

Now who wants more of the 4-legged entities!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Supertyphoon Aftermath!

I would first apologize for posting these photos. I know you have seen these on television, this is just my share of letting my blogger friends know of our situation right now. Fortunately, and thanks God, I am living in Metro Manila that was not the typhoon path of Supertyphoon Yolanda (Hainan). My immediate family in the province is also spared. However, my friends from these parts of the country are directly hit and until now we haven't heard about them. Communication systems in these areas just started yesterday, so i hope we might get information soonest.

I've been a research coordinator for these areas in the past and I know it pretty well. The long stretch of seashore composed of many municipalities from Tacloban City, Leyte Province to the south of the island are all devastated. And Leyte is just one of the island provinces affected.

The series of photos will speak for themselves.

Debris hang on basketball post near thousands of houses damaged after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city

An aerial view of devastation and a ship after it was swept at the height of super typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban city
a ship slammed the shore

Survivors stand among debris and ruins of houses destroyed after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines
a lone survivor in a ghost town

Survivors walk under a fallen electric post after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city

Survivors walk past bodies swept by flood waters after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines
                                     dead bodies piled  on top of tables and wheelbarrows

Residents recover bodies of victims after Typhoon Haiyan hit the municipality of Coron, Palawan province in central Philippines

Survivors carrying their belongings walk past destroyed houses after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines
survivors moving forward

Residents walk on debris near vehicles floating on a river after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated Tacloban city in central Philippines

A survivor waits for military mercy flight outside damaged airport after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines

Survivors walk past a fallen tree outside an airport after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines

Survivors assess the damage after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city, central Philippines

Survivors walks past uprooted trees after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city, central Philippines

All these photos are from a site with compiled photos which i guess are also from other sources. written by  Stef de la Cruz.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Are they aliens?

Coleopterans are normally called beetles. They are insects with thick front pair of wing covering the rear wings. Brown and black are the common colors of beetles, but some have very bright colors too. Encyclopedia says it comprise 40% of all the insects and that means at least 360,000 species are all beetles. Oh My God, i hope that 360,000 will not be roaming here at the same time, that is really more than scary!

 The antennae of this species are segmented and very long.

Look at that thick hard-shelled body and appendages, scary isn't it.

And look at that fierce face, it really is more than scary! The mandibles also look ready to tear every part it alights on. I am glad this night visitor is just greater than one inch long, or else i would have screamed!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Birding Detour

I took a leave from the office for two days last week, Thursday and Friday. I attended our University Loyalty Day on 10 October for the much awaited bonding with batchmates and friends, getting older seeks the same age range i think! We had lunch and dinner, and the parade in the afternoon was exciting. Both the Ex Chancellor and the Now Chancellor are batchmates, and they marched with us. Bonding, talking, reminiscing, laughing and more eating happened from dinner onwards. A few of us even slept at a friend's house a bit at the rural side near a stream, furnitures looking like antiques. They turned their house to be a cozy restaurant and massage place using the traditional "hilot" massage. These services just started and presently they just cater to friends and friends' friends. Imagine having a wonderful massage with the natural music of the stream! So after a lot of bonding talks and massage, we had a wonderful sleep.

In the morning they dropped me at the Institute of Plant Breeding in the University complex. I had to get my order of hoya rooted cuttings. The staff arrived at 9:00am so i had one hour taking pictures around the research complex. If waiting for someone is not so exciting, this is the exact opposite as it seemed one hour is not enough.

 The attractive and special vegetarian dish prepared by our equally attractive batchmate, Dr. Pam Fernandez. It is always the first dish to finish, not only because it's very colorful but because many are curious of the taste of individual flowers. Some didn't know that a particular common flower can be eaten.

 Tuntungin Hill as viewed from the Institute of Plant Breeding.

 These are structures that are built mainly for function rather than beauty, but they evoke lots of memories! Even these plants have been here for many years.

 When i finished taking shots of the flowers, i saw these white things behind the hedges at the other side of the field. My lens didn't give much justice to them but that's fine, as I don't see them often. I am always  inside a moving vehicle when i see them, and getting photos were not possible. This time only the lens is the problem, but that's fine as well. I am gathering memories.

 Cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis) are called such because they are normally seen with cattles or big livestock. They are lazy feeders so they don't hunt food, but take advantage of the insects and worms around the livestock. Cattles are absent here but they are taking advantage of the newly mowed field. The tractor is near me, just finished mowing this whole lot. The tractor driver said these birds are getting the earthworms that surfaced after the mowing.

That was a wonderful morning, gathering a lot of things: memories, pictures, seeds and hoyas.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tuesday Reds!

 As I've always said in the past, our gardens in the tropics are normally filled with reds and orange. Maybe these colors really love the hot and warm climates, maybe that is the reason they are called warm colors. The blues and dark violets are seldom seen here, although much intrusion by the gardener can also produce all these blue colors if they want. However, they might need more patience, perseverance, time and money.

So without the needed adjectives i mentioned above, the absentee gardener like me must just be contented with the more common and self supporting plants. And they are the orange and the reds. Here are some of them.

A  Caladium leaf resembles batik from neighboring Asian countries. This could be one of their inspirations. Can this color pass as red already?

 Chrysothemis pulchella, a gesneriad, is said to have originated in North America. It is only some of the few that acclimatized well in the humid warm tropics. With its storage root it can transcend its presence through the seasons, allows dormancy during dry season and sprouts again when the rains come. The yellow corolla don't last long, outlasted by the red-orange calyx. It spreads fast with good soil conditions. In fact in my garden, i already declare it as invasive.

When speaking of contrast, the red ripe chili pepper is a very good specimen. It produces a variety of changing hues in maturation, from green, to orange to red, and of course to brown when dried. I also love how its calyx remained green supporting the ripe fruit.

 The mosquito is lured with the spadix of this anthurium, i wonder what it can get there as the flowers are not yet open. The white spadix contrasts nicely with the bright red showy spathe. It is reported that there are about 1,500 species of Anthurium andreanum, although the highbrids are the most common in commerce.

 Even this black ant cannot resist visiting the anthurium. Its black presence in ruby red is so very conspicuous. I wonder why it was alone there, and i would have loved it if he came in contact with the mosquito. I should have observed them more intently.

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