Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wild Weeds in our Property

Weeds are unwanted plants. They grow anywhere if favorable conditions are available. In the tropics, a lot of weeds are growing profusely, competing with crop plants and other weeds. They are mostly colonizers or  invading species. Just recently, i saw some plants which i have not been paying much attention in the past. I am posting three of them, they are of different characteristics and from different habitats. Two are short small annuals, and the other is a big climbing perennial.

This one is a roadside weed, immediately producing blooms a few weeks after the rains. It might look nice in photos, but may give problems to farmers if they are present in their cultivated farms. The seeds mature early and a lot of them will be invading properties soonest because those seeds can easily be transported by wind and water through run-offs.

 At first sight i thought this is a terrestrial orchid as the leaves look like a Bulbophyllum. I didn't look at the underground parts because we didn't have much time as there is an impending heavy rains. I am so glad i had my camera with me though. There are several pink flowers borne at the tip of a single spike. It really looks like an orchid, however i also didn't look at the morphology of the flower, so I wouldn't know. In haste i was not even able to get a flower to inspect at home. Next time i promise to do just that. At the moment I cannot resist posting it at once to share with you!

That is the size of the flowers in relation to the full plant. It definitely is a monocot. At leat that I am very sure.  It is growing in the almost dense and very humid undisturbed area beneath the coconuts and other big trees. It receives only very low sunlight seeping through the canopy of tall vegetation. I guess it needs the undisturbed microclimate there with a lot of organic matter and rich topsoil.

Bottom of the tree fully covered by the climbing vine

 This vine is perennially here even during the very hot dry season. It is not a parasite as it only clings to the trunk of the tree to grow upward and see sunlight. It is an epiphyte or a plant that grows on another plant for support but not for nutrients. Earlier, I thought this is a Monstera deliciosa, the leaves are very similar. However, through the decades it is growing there, i still haven't seen it flower. So the name might not be correct, my second guess is Philodendron. They both have the same habit and morphology and I still cannot ask an authority on the subject for its real name. But most probably, it is a philodendron.
 middle portion of the tree still occupied with the climbing vine

the top of the tree trunk profusely covered with the climbing vine

The tree which supports the climbing vine is an Artocarpus blancoi, we locally call antipolo. The base of the trunk can be around 4-5 feet in diameter, while the height might be of a 5 storey building. Some furniture makers are already asking us to sell it, but I don't agree for its significance and importance in the property and our environs. Besides, some birds roost in its canopy and if you kill the tree, what will become of this profusely growing old philodendron. We are not ready to destroy such richness! 


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Monday, August 27, 2012

Lush Greens after the Rains

A month through our rainy season and green is happy everywhere. In our property, only the cemented roads are not green. The wild weeds are not yet blooming, but preparations for the blooms are happily developing. In a few weeks, blooms will be all over.

It definitely is also easier for animals to breath as more and more oxygen is produced by the lushly growing greens. I am so lucky our province is not really very far from the city where i worked, just a few hours on land will bring me home for a cleaner atmosphere for breathing. It is so wonderful to breath without hitches in the nose and throat. And this leads to a clearer mind,  wholesome ways, and wiser decisions, hopefully! Why do we usually get out of the concrete jungles for a taste of the forest or the beach during some breaks? That is to be away from the madding crowd, get that most sought after vacation, and breath well.

 Our property in the province is on an undulating topography. Our house was dug on a slanted hill with plants above us and others below us. This is the vertical drop wall behind our kitchen. This wall is composed of solid rocks, rough rocks, and some soil, parent materials undergoing rapid weathering. During the dry season, nothing is growing here, the bare rocks exposed. But come rainy season and the almost 2m wall comes back to life. Maybe of all the people in our household, I am the only one who loves this immensely. A lot of ferns, silaginella, mosses and a lot of mixed weeds are growing here.

Above are mostly maidenhair ferns starting to grow on another mossy phase of the wall.

a part of the front ground gets so soggy and had difficulty in draining 

 The small street a few meters from us luxuriantly grows the colonizing cogon, Imperata cylindrica, and the talahib, Saccharum  spontaneum   .

 This has not been this lush last year, but full sun exposure allows them to fully grow and invade. The shorter ones in front is the cogon, while the greener and taller  ones at the back is the talahib.

 At the end of the rainy season, this is fully blooming with white typical blooms of grasses, lovely against the blue sky and swaying with the breeze.

 The new leaves from my Cycas edentata, showing very luxuriant growth, as if fully keeping the blessings of the rains. New apical growths usually start after the first heavy rains.

New fruits are developing while the old ones are maturing. Fruits mature in more than one year. Not many fruits develop because I don't know of any male plant near us. I am actually unaware yet where the male inflorescence that fertilize them is located. The pollens are just serendipitously brought here by the wind. 

 Volunteer taro or Colocasia esculenta are growing profusely too. Last year they are mostly eaten by moths' larvae, seems like this time they are spared. But we have a lot of these clumps of taro in the property, so a lot are available for the moths.

This is a clump of the turmeric or yellow ginger, Curcuma longa. A lot of turmeric roots are sold in the market lately when it became famous as a very good herbal medicine even good for cancer patients, increase activity of the immune system, good antioxidants and much more. It is also used in commerce as the famous curry powder for cooking. However, i have not gotten roots from here, as i still buy my own turmeric powder.

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

Friday, August 24, 2012

Unknown Perennial Flower

This is the flower with the most extended vase life! No amount of storms, lightnings, rains and droughts can destroy its beauty. It can withstand the tests of time, and harshness of the weather. I just haven't asked the discoverer of this species if it has already a name! Let us not put Carl Von Linnaeus to shame, as this is one of the very few plant species which he was not able to give the Binomial classification or what we call Scientific name. It has been a common style in naming a biological specimen to put the discoverer's name on it as a species. Can you now suggest how to call it?

Update: This is given the name Concreteus bloomus 'Bernieh' as given by the owner of Bushbernieh's Garden.

I am very sorry for not being able to make a normal bloom post, as I have been sick these past few days! Even if i haven't, i still want to join all of you, so this fun post. I have posted my ordeal in my other blog Andrea in this Lifetime. Thank you very much for the understanding. I will make up for this in the next Friday posts.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Generation Gap or Plant Arrogance?

Maybe some of you will not agree with my title. I will just post my photos and let you decide for the title you want to use with them. For sometime I have long wanted to post these photos, but for some reason I don't know why they are always forgotten. My extra drive is already full of photos of the same shots with different settings, that also for some reason I cannot just delete. Maybe that is an indication of a hoarding tendency, or I might just be anticipating of some future need going to the cliche "you just don't know when it will come handy".

At least, even if they are still from last year's shots, i now have some use for them here!

Above are banana leaves showing what I call generation gap. But the one on top is actually a leaf from another plant trying to outdo the other leaves in this plant. So isn't that arrogance? You might say it just  exercises survival of the fittest theory, the need for sunlight lets them that. On the other hand, the old leaf below has the almost resigned contentment in it. Can you see the wisdom it exudes, through the golden light? It seems happy on its own, on its place in the sun!

Another drama of leaf life is being demonstrated here. The youngest of them is at the top getting maximum attention from the sun, with all the older ones letting it be. It even has the brightest and most attractive among the colors, which slightly fades as it ages and assumes the normal hue it is expected to be, green! It contrasts with the banana leaf, the drama here is somehow different, but the lowest and greenest leaves look so contented as well, don't you agree?

What drama do you see in here? Alone but not lonely! That single plant is in a sea of unknowns, alien in its environment, independent on its own, but do they have relationship with each other? 

These are two Turnera flowers of different species. T subulata seem to be damaged faster by rain than T ulmifolia. These flowers open only half a day and they started only this morning, so they are of the same age. Normally, they close after lunchtime. But at this condition, the first is already dead without the benefit of pollination, while T ulmifolia seems to be still capable of receiving some bees and butterflies. Nature is supposed to be fair, i wonder why T subulata is given that characteristics when the rains come! I have been looking for its other characteristics during the dry season, and I can't see obvious differences. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blooming in the Rain!

After the extensive flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces due to the Southwest Monsoon aggravated by the typhoon in South China, we fortunately had 3 days of sun, and the streets got dry. However, most of the flooded areas are still flooded, families have not yet returned because waters are still high. The soils are very saturated still and can't yet drink the rains coming again. This time it is a typhoon, a real one. It hits the top north part of the country but we in other parts of the country especially Metro Manila still gets too much rain again. Evacuees who left the makeshift evacuation centers to clean their homes returned for fear of another flood coming in. Oh My God, what is happening. But to all my blogger friends, please don't worry about me and my family, we are safe and not flooded!

But rain or shine, typhoon or flood, bloggers don't forget the Garden Bloggers bloom day! I haven't been home to our property in the province for the last two weeks, so i will be posting what I have here before I left.
The gardens after the dry season has not been fully recovered, but the bulbs are one of the firsts to send out leaves. I  used the plastic water scoop for this variety purposely because it contains little soil to control its growth. I love them with stunted short petioles and smaller leaves. I love it this way. I have other caladium varieties, which i posted earlier than this.

The Turnera subulata is planted near the wire fence to keep it upright and well supported on one side. Without that support it grows wide fast.

The yellow Ixora is also loved by the butterflies, we have plenty of the red ones both the I javanica and the I coccinea, and the appearance of the yellow is a nice welcome.

The ever faithful Duranta erecta never fails to amaze me and the butterflies, dry or wet, rain or shine! But now it already suffered a big pruning, so it will produce better blooms while the rains are still available. The butterflies have to make do with other flowers before their favorite Duranta gets blooming again.

Catharanthus hybrids

Lantana camara

 These Petunia flowers suffered from too much rains, see the effects on the petals? Even the stems get so long and lanky and have to be cut.

The above Gaillardia is a migrant trying to acclimatize itself here in my tropical garden conditions. Last dry season it started to bloom but rains are drowning its leaves now, and lots of insects will be killing it. It might not be able to withstand our rainy season. This is from seeds sent by a friend blogger from the US. 
This Epiphyllum oxipetalum has been blooming five times this rainy season. This can be the last time as there are no bloom sprouts anymore. I have posted its blooms in a single post last time HERE

They are also blooming with the rains, don't you agree? 

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fate of some plants

Fate of the Sanchezia speciosa

           This is only planted here from cuttings for about two years now. We all love the pattern of its venation, with deep yellow veins on dark green background. It surely is a lovely plant in any area even with just the foliage. It also grows well despite drought and without any supplemental water during the dry season. Leaves just wilt at mid-day which eventually becomes turgid again in the evening. Every apical portion produced some tubular small flowers at the height of the dry season but is not really pretty. We tried to cut these flowering spikes to give way for the leaves.
 The branches spread sideways and downwards in the top photo, eventually covering the Ixora at its base. Another seedling that suffered from its embrace is the Song of India, which cannot cope with the Sanchezia's fast growth.
After the first heavy rains, i cut all the lower branches to expose the Song of India (Dracaena reflexa) and Ixora coccinea, which now has totally lost blooms and some leaves. The latter already suffered severely with only younger leaves showing health. I hope it will now recover. 
The above is the Ixora when it is not yet covered by the Sanchezia.

These are the pruned branches. They will just go to waste for food of the earthworms, fungus and bacteria. And you know what! My sister further fully cut all the top stems of the Sanchezia, to give way to better growths. Unfortunately, i forgot to take the photo of the bald plant, but it really looks pathetic at the moment. 

Fate of the caladiums, (Caladium bicolor)

       Caladiums favorably grow in our climate. They just become dormant underground during the dry season and produce leaves again when the rains come. We have them for many years now and some corms might have been carried by floods or chicken, as they can be seen around the property already.  Sometimes, i am thinking that winter is even an advantage to temperate gardeners. Their corms and bulbs will not persist outdoors during their winter season. If the gardener wants to preserve the plant, they have to keep it inside for protection. In our case in the tropics, they will just show up repeatedly through time, multiply itself anywhere, until people will not be enamored with them at all. 

One volunteer in the property that immediately showed gratefulness for the rains is the caladium. These are just the old traditional varieties, but beautiful nevertheless. They started as very small leaves and one corm, now i guess the corms are already big sending those big leaves, and also there are many corms growing in the clump.

 One plant produced a healthy flower. However, this plant is very near the pathway and should be removed.

 I also love this green and white variant. In fertile soils it produces big leaves and slender long petioles. I purposely planted it in an area with shallow top soil, so the petioles will be shorter. I am glad about the result as in above. 

 The variants above and below have single leaf each. It takes a while before the next leaves grow because this is in a shaded area. 

Another variant, whose petioles are shorter than the above colors. However, i only have one plant of this variant. I am still on the look-out for varieties available here. I am always envious of those i see in Meems garden at Hoe and Shovel in Florida.