Friday, June 28, 2013

Cactus Legacy

I have not been fond of rearing cactus. I haven't bought any in the past, although I confess i love watching them in garden shows and in others' gardens. They don't flower here as often as they do in temperate dry climates. Maybe that's the reason i don't get them. When I transferred to the 5th Floor condo unit, I lack the space for a garden, but they say "when you're a gardener, you're always a gardener". I am glad my unit is not in front of the clubhouse, where it might be an eyesore to have some pots and plants near the wall.

I have this tall but narrow window, where i don't cover the whole day to let sunshine in. Inside the room i put some ledges and the plants converge for the light they most wanted. This depravity of space prompted me to buy three cactus from the February garden show. One of them is shown here. I forgot where i put its label so I've never known it by its name!

This is how it looked like when i got it, roundish, healthy, with some plantlets starting to grow at the bottom. It is about 2.5 inches in diameter.

I can say it is beautifully symmetrical. I watered it every other day or when the top soil is already dry. I try to give it the attention it needs, they are not neglected because i don't have many in my care at this very limited space, and i am not also busy these days.

 After a few months i noticed that growth deviated from its original manner. The central apex lengthened leaving the periphery. Obviously, there was anomaly in its growth. Moreover, the plantlets are growing profusely now. But none of them grows like buttons resembling the original shape of the mother plant.

I took the young growths, let them cure the scar and then plant them in another container.  Suddenly, i noticed that the mother plant is turning brown, eventually lifeless and actually already hollow or rotten inside. It just slumped at the middle leaving the plantlets. I salvaged these youngsters for another container. I am wondering whether i did something wrong, did i water wrongly or have i missed something i should have done? I am so sorry that my first cactus plant just died like that. I hope these plantlets will grow just like the circular mother plant, and i wish many will live longer this time in my care. Perhaps, it died faster because i am not calling it by its own name!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Raindrops for my Soul

Raindrops made my day!

I am always fascinated to take photos of raindrops. However, I can't seem to get those that really satisfy me, so i just keep on clicking. And if you are just like us who has been bitten by the long dry season, the early rains are very therapeutic, literally and psychologically. For me it is even photographically therapeutic.

I am posting these photos, but I confess they really did not touch my soul to the fullest. At least, someone in the office, who can be considered a professional commented nicely about the first photo. She said i efficiently used the light and took the good angle. For the moment, that is enough for me, but i will always be looking for the wonderful shot. I hope it will come soonest.

  raindrops on Epiphyllum oxipetalum leaves

 Our cherry tomatoes bathe in the rain and they look so happy.

The Euphorbia millii can thrive nicely during our long dry seasons, but they wonderfully love a good rainshower as well. Profuse flowers appear after the first heavy rains.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pusa's Ordeal Continued

Many of you have seen my previous post when Pusa (Cat) is still on her last few days before delivery. In fact  many of you guessed the number of kitties she will give birth to. I also posted her condition in Facebook, and the same here, only one guessed the correct number. She produced six, yes 6, the largest number in her long productive years, so far. We still don't know, she might still produce more than that in the future. Fortunately, all of them are strong, and after 3 weeks they already got out of their box, all of them already walking on the tiled floor. But most of the time, they are all asleep.

We guessed that they have three fathers, two pairs have the same color blends, and the two probably got their colors from the mother. There are 2 orange, 2 whites, 1 striped grey  and 1 tortoise.  That is a big brood to raise, i wonder if their mother finds it too difficult.

 Pusa, the mother has to wipe their whole body, all of them every now and then. And she does it when they are about to feed from her. The kitties own one each of the milk buckets from their mother's belly.  They literally feed most of the time. Look at that white with grey tail, a spot at the back, she has a symmetrical design also at the face. She is my choice among them.

 Her twin also has a grey tail, but with 4 black spots at the back, and bigger patches on the head. They are all so very cute, with all pink lips and pink toes.

 Pusa never stops cleaning each one, and it is difficult because they don't keep still. They just stay put when feeding from their mother's breasts. The problem with Pusa is, she immediately fell asleep the moment she lays her back and they start sucking!

 My favorite white is the most adventurous, it can already venture the farthest from their nest. And it is a little naughty, as she gets on top of everybody when they are feeding.

Immediately when they are in their proper positions, Pusa suddenly doses off, i guess she really lacks needed sleep. She is tired most of the time. Oh how so loving mother Pusa is!

Now, you must read this PS.:

I haven't told you at the beginning, that Pusa always want to have humans beside her when she is in labor. This time nobody was in the house and she was pathetic in her meowing. Fortunately, my sister living in another house came by, and seeing Pusa in delivery mode, she stayed and kept her company, prepared the bed and stayed for a while. When already three of the kitties came out, she went to her home believing every kitties are all out. Imagine her pity when she later found out that Pusa followed her to the house! She drove it away because of the newborns she left behind in our house. Pusa obeyed my sister, who followed her to our house in a few hours. My mother and other sister are already in our house when this sister arrived. They were all surprised to know that Pusa actually delivered a total of 6. So they realized that there are still 3 inside Pusa when she went to my sister's house, that is maybe a hundred meters away. They really felt total pity for her. But those are all 'history' now. Pusa and her kitties are well, growing strongly and they might have already forgotten the ordeal. On the other hand, my sister hasn't forgotten yet her pity of Pusa's experience. Whew!

Camera Critters Meme

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An Afternoon with the Boulders

Last Saturday afternoon i asked a relative in my place to bring his small car so we can go to the beach at the other side of our mountain. We were six in the car, i had my teenager nephew and niece. Two cousins joined us on a motorcycle. Our town looks like a peninsula or a tongue protruding from the mainland, so we are almost surrounded by water. The west side is facing a bay which is more tamed  than the east side, which has currents from the Pacific Ocean. Hence, it is in the west where a lot of resorts are established. These waters are famous mostly for scuba diving and windsurfing. It is a marine protected area, so diversity is preserved. Many diving sites are famous in these waters and scuba diving in Anilao is famous even among  international divers.

It is a little embarrassing that I am not really very familiar with our area. I have only reached the other side thrice in my lifetime. The circumferential road is now already finished facilitating continuous drive along the coast, which prompted me to explore a bit. When you work in the big city far from your place of birth, this is not unusual. I have reached a lot of other places far from us, but not my own place. The song "I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me", fits me well.

 Big rocks occupy a large portion of our shores, so if you're looking for fine sandy shores, we will disappoint you here. But of course, there are some sandy coves although these are short and not very fine. Some areas though are improved to cater to these young tourists and family groups.

The area on the horizon is an island of another town. It is only 30 minutes by boat from us, but i confess, i haven't been there. The other faint bluish island at the back is already the island of Mindoro, 2 hours by boat from Batangas City International Port.  Our 2nd tallest mountain in the country is in that island.

These areas are famous for scuba diving, and the above two boats are waiting for their divers now still under water. Diving sites are actually very near the shores. These waters are protected areas and marine biodiversity is so plenty that makes these sites well known in the world.  I've read that there are also marine species which are only seen in these waters. 

Vegetation from the shore to the mountain is also good, not destroyed except for some populated patches. Forest areas are still present. Just like in the area above, I've seen some beautifully colored butterflies. Being a butterfly chaser in our garden, i didn't know they can also find nectar in seashore plants. 

Above is a bushy tree growing so luxuriantly near the shore. Every shoot is also producing lots of blooms, white as they are, flowers look so nice against those wide, shiny green leaves.

I have not taken lots of pictures, as we were busy gathering abalone and other shells we are fond of as a delicacy on our tables. But of course, my niece kept on pestering me to take her remembrance. Sure, as we might not be able to come here soon, the next time she might already be an adult. 

And to give you a more complete visualization of the place we've been to, it is beneath this area on the left, down there at the shoreline. This view is from Mt. Gulugod Baboy (Pig Spine), an old picture, to show you the protected marine areas. The island I mentioned in the first photo is that group of islands at the middle.

Our World Tuesday Graphic

   signs of season

Thursday, June 13, 2013

GBBD for June

Our rainy season starts in May in all the years that passed. However, this year our official weather bureau proclaimed it just started this week, last June 10! Imagine the almost 1 month delay in all farm activities, plus the plant's delayed quenching their thirst! Moreover, the plants showed unusual characteristics because of the unusual weather conditions. Being a plant person, both in profession and in hobby, i think a big change in plant physiology really changed because of the changing weather patterns and climate. I have observed a lot of changes, although i still can't fully explain it.

But i will post here a few of the blooms as a result of the first heavy rains.

My Hippeastrum puniceum usually flowers simultaneously after the first heavy rains in May. With some twist of fate, it started sending a few blooms at a time since March, and continued on till now when the real rains are coming. It produced the usual simultaneous blooms last week, unfortunately i didn't go home to see the show. The blooms are almost finished when i arrived home, only the bald scapes and wilted flowers remain. Therefore, i will wait for next year again to see all of them blooming, if they will ever be able to bloom. They said the flower primordia starts 18 months before blooming, so all the primordia might already have bloomed this year and nothing more for next year! I will cross fingers.

We planted some clumps in different areas, in the above case under the shade of a big golden shower tree. The beauty of this hippeastrum is that they grow nicely even when shaded.

The 'katunggal' or Proiphys amboinensis/euricles bloomed just in time after the first heavy rains. That is its normal habit. Three scapes are produced this year, while last year was only two. The above blooms are nearly wilted, and one umbel has a lot of seed pods. I hope some of them will continue maturing, as last year they all wilted before maturity.

The above bloom is abnormally different because the scape didn't elongate before blooming. I had to push aside the leaves just to see this big umbel bloom, fresh and simultaneously open. I am sure the plant hormones are in control in this condition, as affected by the very long dry season and late rainfall. But it didn't diminish its beauty, however the umbel is not very conspicuous.

The hoyas especially this Hoya buotii showed abrupt growth in response to rainfall. They all show long spikes of growth, and this one produced bigger numbers of blooms per umbel unlike the previous bloom. This species has a slight scent too.Those hairy petals are so lovable.

Duranta erecta produced a lot of simultaneous blooms, that butterflies, bees and other insects truly love.  In previous years, i used to prune this before the rains come, but this time i wasn't able to do that as i didn't go home often. I am glad that branches produced lots of blooms scattered all over the canopy.

 The blood lily or Haemanthus multiflorus remained true to its habit, flowering after the heavy rains. I experimented on watering the bulbs even at two months before the rains, it started leafing but the real blooms didn't. Now they have a real big show.

 The caladium also started to produce leaves. They are dormant without leaves during the dry season.

Another dormant underground is this 'kamia' or Hedychium coronarium. Now the rhizomes are all sprouting some have leaves already. In a few weeks white fragrant, butterfly-like flowers will be emerging. It will not be a long time.

 And ferns which are nowhere to be seen during the dry season, now starts to show up. This species grows ahead of the others, and we have many ferns species in our property. In a few weeks the ground will not be seen anymore, but fully covered with plants and weeds.

That green lush is just the outcome of the first heavy rains. We cannot see the sky from this vantage point, in contrast during the height of the dry season in April, when we can fully see the blue sky between those branches. And that crape myrtle also produced those blooms in response to the first rains, isn't this view relaxing enough? This is my line of sight when sitting at our terrace, having breakfast or sipping coffee and watching the butterflies on plants at the ground level. I am sure you will agree, it is delightful.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Friday Again

Glad it's Friday again. 

And true to the colors assigned to us in the tropics, the warm colors, i never run out of them. If i will not stop, i will have a long list of orange colors. Imagine that, and i still am not putting in the reds!

 4 o'clock - Mirabilis jalapa

 ever faithful Hippeastrum puniceum

 Crossandra infundibuliformis

fallen leaf of Artocarpus camansi

the old reliable ever present zinnia

But can you guess those little pink dots at the back. This is the face that greets you Happy Weekend! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Organized Chaos

I had a difficult time focusing on these subject. It is very lush and a handful by themselves, very vigorously growing and looks palatable as a salad. The flowers are pinkish and lovely too, scattered along the stems. but when you look closely, the individual leaves are actually just 3-4 mm, yes millimeter, long. It is growing in a pot of petunia, the others are in a gaillardia pot. It is growing vigorously because it perhaps get the water supposed to be for the main plant. So you can relate with me now in saying that photographing it is very difficult. The minute leaves and thin branches make it so vulnerable to even just a wisp of wind, or even just an ant's movement affects it. 

 I really don't know how it is called, it might have medicinal properties but i also don't know. It is difficult to search when you don't have the lead. How i wish it can be made into salad. I just can relate it to the size and complexity of a silaginella.

I posted the above photo in FB, and someone commented that i shot this at the wrong angle! I gave a hilarious burst of laughter, as i thought i found it nice with those bokeh and shallow DOF!  How about you, may i know your verdict?
Macro Monday intro badge photo MM2badgeintrofinal_zps09e45e9a.jpg

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dear Old Pusa

"Pusa" is the local term for cat. Calling your pet as its generic name is a "very creative (LOL) way" to call it. But when my nephew was small he always call it that, and it remained to be that, Pusa. She also knows that is her name.

Can you see any unusual 'something' with her today? She is trying to play with me, but she is not as agile as she used to. She can't just jump, or turn herself as quick as she wants to. She can't even run! And i wonder why she doesn't want to eat more, eats only a little, when she should be eating more than normal.

 Look at her teats, they are now open and ready.

 she tries to stretch her belly more

 I guess she has difficult time....

...because in a little while she will deliver her babies. Can you guess how many cuties will she produce?

Camera Critters