Monday, May 27, 2013

Hidden Treasures

   Casia fistula flower

 plantlet still on the leaf of the "thousand plants" succulent (Kalanchoe daigremontiana)

the lip of Dendrobium anosmum orchid



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Critters

"Be good to me, or I am ready to sting", says this black creature which probably thinks i am preying on him because the black thing i have is much too bigger than itself.  I've been trying to come nearer to get a more close-up shot, but it suddenly made this posture. It is braver than this very big creature in front of him, as i stepped back, stopped and just got contented with my previous shot. I got only one, but that is enough. I had a few shares of sting in the past, and i am not ready to have one just yet. To say that i don't even know its name.

You won, you won! I admit I am very scared of you.

Camera Critters Meme

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fresh, Fantastic and Fabulous

Two years ago in May i planted a corm i got from my short hiking visit to our nearby mountain. I saw a familiar looking flower without any leaves yet. It could be a leftover by someone whose old house is just nearby. I looked for the corms and got one. Since i planted it during the dry season, it grows well to a lush foliage, then dried the next dry season. The corms overflown in the small metal can i used for planting, until i removed the remnants of the can. Then another dry season this year followed, drying all the leaves again.

My mother always tell me to transfer the invasive corms to a big container or destroy them, as they will cover all the plants nearby. But i hesitated as i want to see if it will produce flowers, and for how long. It hasn't been raining yet in April this year, but suddenly my mother told me to look at the flower. We were all surprised and happy to see the lovely inflorescence ahead of the leaves. Actually, there are two flower stalks, one ahead of the other. I joked to my mother that i will now be transferring all the corms, and she now bargained, because the flowers are so beautiful. Of course, i was just joking!

This is Curcuma elata, which flower ahead of the leaves. The inflorescence grow from the ground and not from the top of the plant stalk. It is a member of the ginger family that includes the turmeric we are very familiar with. The pinkish purple flowerlike structures on top are the bracts, the true flowers are the yellow structures arising from the bract axils (below).

the real flowers

the bracts at the top are pinkish purple, while greenish yellow at the bottom

 A previous post of my first encounter with this plant in 2010 is in my other blogsite Andrea in this Lifetime..


Monday, May 20, 2013

Serendipitous moments!

I decided to be absent from work last Monday. I left home from the province early that Monday morning, instead of the usual late Sunday afternoon. My reason for being absent is that before leaving the condominium unit last Saturday, i accidentally closed the door with the 2nd key still inserted in the keyhole inside. I cannot anymore lock the door outside before leaving for home to the province. I thought the condominium management will have difficulty opening my unit, so i will not be able to enter if i arrive on a Sunday night. Blame it to negligence, carelessness, forgetfulness or whatever, but it certainly had me so distressed. Fortunately, they have certain troubleshooting strategies, and i was able to enter my unit so quickly. I shouldn't have wasted a lot of wasteful thoughts and calories thinking a lot of scenarios!

But if there are sacrifices, there are also some rewards. And i can always see them no matter what.  Here are some of the shots i took that early morning of Monday, on my way to the city.

 This is the sunrise from my window in the province. If i did not leave that Monday, i wont be obliged to wake up early, and will otherwise have missed this scenes.

 The rising sun behind the cassava plant,

...and behind the curtains of coconut leaves!

 I took this shot while on board the jeepney on my first leg of travel, and while waiting for more passengers to the city.

I even called on the driver to wait for a minute, while i was waiting for that boat to be on the sun's rays. The boat shape is so lovely and unusually seen in this waters. I just hoped it was a bit nearer the shore for a more beautiful composition. But that is forgiven, spontaneous shots are okay too! 

Serendipitous! Yes!

Our World Tuesday Graphic


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

GBBD for May 2013

Despite the casualties i posted earlier, there are still wonderful and colorful blooms in our yard. It is just a matter of perspective, or let's say just limiting the photos to themselves, and avoiding wide angle shots. Otherwise, the larger pictures might be a bit depressing. So i would rather convey joy, enthusiasm, life and continuous growth and development in our little corner of the world.

 The gaillardia from its temperate  US home proved to be tolerant of our hot and drought-laden environment.  Its growth is affected, the stems are lanky, leaves are wilted every afternoon, yet it still produce the same lovely and colorful flowers, though very few. The above endemic stingless bee seems to have trained itself already with its pollen.

 These gaillardia flowers are alwasy a sight to behold. I never get tired of looking at them, but most specially shooting them.

Another pot of gaillardia has mostly just yellow flowers. I am glad that there are variations in color from the same packet of seeds. But, I am not sure if this is gaillardia or rudbeckia, can you please clarify my misinformation!

 The Hippeastrum puniceum, which bloomed way ahead of the first heavy rains seemed darker in color. Even the texture of the petals looks velvety with golden glitters, a friend calls it 'pelus' texture.

The drawback of the early flowering is the staggered blooms, and my hope of taking a photo of the hippeastrum hedge with simultaneous flowering will not materialize this year! Of course you know that my hippeastrum is planted on the ground, not receiving extra care or any cultural management.

 This is the red Pentas lanceolata. Despite the dwindling stems, which are very much affected by heat and drought, this photo of the emerging blooms doesn't show the stress.

 The purple Pentas lanceolata photo also looks healthy, but i guess that is how the camera lies! Their stems don't grow beyond 1 ft in height, and the leaves are always wilted in the afternoons. Our pentas receive some watering in the afternoon though, sometimes recycled water from the kitchen are very useful.

Chrysothemis  pulchellia cannot withstand drought, so this is the only one left of the mass deaths they suffered. This is in a pot purposely placed under shade and receives the run off water from the orchids above it. Layering arrangement ensures maximized use of resources.

The drought tolerant Ixora coccinea never fails to provide warmth and beauty, here its hedge hugs the slightly elevated contour of the land, and covers the stones behind it. Butterflies and bees at least have their food in this extreme heat. If you are with us, seeing some of these insects diminish the stressful heat and high humidity in this part of the world. 

One Celosia argentea seedling reached this blooming stage because it happened to be near the bottom of a pot that mother is taking care of. The rest of the seedlings died at infancy (LOL). 

We have a wide clump of this Heliconia rostrata in our garden, i purposely chose only one of them to show here because many inflorescence already dried and it is not a pleasant sight. I've shown the group shots in the previous post. 
The golden shower tree, Cassia fistula, is a sight to behold during flowering. However, ours showed only a few flowers due to constant pruning because it is near the electric post.  Even just a few drooping inflorescence already give a lovely scene. 

Other climates show a lot of flowering trees, full of blooms and almost leafless. This fire tree we locally call 'caballero', Delonix regia, can be our counterpart to them. Theirs show off in spring, but ours show off at the height of the hot dry season. Some of our highways are planted at the sides with these trees, and going through them provides both a very pleasant ride and sight.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Casualties: Humans and Plants!

Our dry season this year is famous. Temperatures soared high even a few weeks after the rainy season stopped. It suddenly reached above 30°C onward and on May 6 it was 36.6°C in Metro Manila. Of course there are even a few places in the country which experienced even higher than that. General Santos City in Mindanao and Tuguegarao City in Northern Luzon, known to have the highest temperatures in the country reached 37C and 38°C, respectively. We saw on TV some human casualties because of heat stroke. Mostly they are politicians or their members on the campaign trail. It is incidental that elections will be on May 13, and campaigners are obliged to go out on the streets no matter what the conditions are, to show the electorate their presence and discuss their promises with them. I guess this part is the most difficult part during the election, eventual losing might not be as stiff.

Our plants in the province in our property are not as agile as the politicians. They can't even leave their place to drink water nor seek some shaded areas. We also cannot just quench their thirsts because water is also a problem during dry seasons. The limited supply goes to the people and animals. Few years ago I reported here some of our dead fruit trees. Now i will post some ornamental plants in our yard.

 This birds' nest or Asplenium nidus was so glamorous and healthy during the rainy months. It's been here throughout its life and this is the most devastating year for it. Last year most leaves got scorched and yellowing, but not like now that they really dried. I know it will eventually regrow when the rains come, but maybe not as lovely.

 This Ixora showed lots of flowers and they wilted sooner than their life expectancy.  Nevertheless, some shoots are still producing new flower buds. Ixoras are really drought and heat tolerant, the leaves are also not drying. This scene for the ixora is not seen during the rainy season.

 The dwarf Ti plant here is already a bit shaded, but the leaves still show scorching and some leaves really dry. Even some shade cannot alleviate the heat in the surrounding. These are directly planted on the ground so their roots can grow down deeper for more moisture, but still the heat is intolerable.

 Heliconia rostrata have shown their elegance the previous month, but that length of inflorescence are still short compared to their previous performance. If the heat is just lower, they will not dry as fast. In the past years they are still in good condition in May when the rains come.

These croton plants are in a hedge shaded by taller trees, yet the leaves droop conserving some transpiration loss from the leaves. I love these plants as even mature leaves don't fall off, just droop to show their disgust to the surrounding temperatures and drought. I hope they will not reach their threshold levels, and rains come before that. Plants in open places are not as resilient.

signs of season


Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Guest Tree!

We have a few trees near our property that always attract my attention. It might have been planted there by the previous owner of the land. This is not a common tree in our area, maybe just an introduced species. At the start of the dry season in March, it sheds off most of its leaves that photos somehow resemble autumn against the clear blue tropical sky. I always go there because birds love to frolic in its branches, and because there are no leaves, they are very conspicuous for the camera. 

This season i was late going there, although still at the peak of our dry season. I had a different kind of excitement because i saw it in a different way. There are already flowers and young fruits.  The flowers are lovely, yellowish with brown margins.  It now intrigues me and i searched for it when i got home, turned out to be already a common tree elsewhere, Gmelina arborea. It is used for light furnitures and  uses other than timber because of its light weight. And for a bit of important information, in India it is called 'Kumizh tree' and when burnt yields the whitest possible ash. That is the reason this ash is one ingredient in the semi solid white ochre used in drawing the very ancient 'cave paintings' as old as 3,000 to 5,000 years or more, found in the dense forests of Tamilnadu, India. 

a deciduous tree at the start of the dry season in Feb to March

the branches starting to flower and produce fruits, as well as new shoots in April

flowers fallen to the ground

a flower with a mature fruit

For Two Questions Meme: 1. Do you have a particular tree or plant you are so attracted with in your vicinity?
                                       2. Why do you think are your reasons of being particularly attracted to it?


 orange you glad 2