Monday, May 25, 2015

My Garden Residents

You all well know that i have a hoya garden. But long ago i also have an orchid garden, not well cared for that succumbed to pests and diseases. Plants are like any living thing too, when their resistance is low they succumb to illnesses. Food chain is like that, there is always someone waiting for its prey to be vulnerable, then they attack. Obvious predators are the pests or insects, but there are microscopic problems that not visually seen unless the attacked  symptoms are already obvious. Then the host becomes very weak and die. 

Those posted below are not necessarily pests of my garden plants. 

 The fruit fly above is obviously eating a lot of 'whatever' things on the surface of an orchid petal. Its mandible goes left and right as if completely cleaning the area. I really don't know what it is doing, but it always do that for all petals it alight into.

What i directly know about them is as pest of fruits. They lay their eggs on the still developing fruits, and their larvae grows when the fruits ripen. This is a very bad pest of our major fruits.

This plant hopper is always seen also with my hoya plants. They are always on the stems and leaves. They pierce plant parts and sip the juices. However, i think its damage is not very high on my hoyas. Its length is only greater than 1 centimeter.

 The white spider is also a perennial resident of my hoya garden. They are seen mostly under the leaves or inside the flower umbels. When provoked they go down to the ground fast through their lifeline thread, coming out of their bodies. When the environment stabilizes again, they climb up through that lifeline again to the plants. The photo above is a Hoya imperialis, where it blends well with the whitish corona. I provoked it to transfer to the mauve background.

There are many of them in my hoyas, but they are a bit inconspicuous unless you seriously look for them. They also camouflage very well with the whitish color of the plants, as inside the umbels and under the whitish corolla. 

It is actually a friend of the plants. They are there to ambush anything that visits the flower. However, they don't seem to distinguish if the insect is a good one or bad. Their main intention is to get food. It has very long forelegs that can hold preys much much larger than its size. I've seen it lugging a moth and another time a big bee. Its technique is to immediately bite the prey on the neck, inject its venoum that paralyzes its prey. So even a big prey will not be able to resist when injested with the paralyzing venom. Sometimes, i also get scared at it as it might get so scared and attack my hand. Fortunately, i haven't been stung, i also take care for i don't know its magnitude of attack. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hot & Heat Resistant Plants for May GBBD (republished from May last year)

The plants i posted for April  I called heat tolerant. But some of them already died this May, leaving a few that are really very persistent in living. I don't know how to describe them, i guess they are really resistant to extended hot temperatures. But some of them just bloom this May, which is also unusual for me.

Sanchezia speciosa is a perennial in our climate. I just prune them immediately after the dry season or when rainy season begins. This clump we had has been with us for already 7 years, and still going nicely. If the old plants are not cut to give way to new shoots, insects like aphids and mealy bugs get in, so i would rather start them new.                                                                                                                                                

Our Hippeastrum puniceum, as i've posted in an earlier post, lost all their leaves since March. We expect them to bloom after the first heavy rains in May, however due to unknown circumstances some of them flowered at the height of the dry season. Reasons are still not known, but maybe dormancy was cut by any factor aside from water.
 Rain or without rain, its beauty is the same, sizes are the same too, however they fade/dehisce faster with the heat. Morever, the beauty of simultaneous blooming within a hedge is not reached because not all of them flowered without water.            
  This is Crinum Ellen Bosanquet, a temperate climate lily given to me from the US. It struggled to grow, but persistence let it bloom for the first time. However, compared to those growing in their natural habitat, the scape is just above 1 foot. Fortunately, the sweet scent is in the genes, so we savored its lovely aroma in the evenings.                                                                                                                                                  
The same crinum with a trumpet-like flower before it fully opens.                                                                

                                                       The red salvia is looking great as well.                                                                                                                                                                                           
Euphorbia millii, being a succulent is quite happy, rather than affected by heat.   It never stops flowering.                
This white petunia is the only bloom we have that is not only orange or red. It just behaves nicely because it is under the shade of the hoya plants, provided with two layers of black net.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
This red Pentas lanceolata is moderately resistant to heat, so i placed its pot also under the hoya area.
This plant i forgot the name,but this might be a species of the shrimp plants.                                                                          
The plants occupying my almost full attention during weekends that i am home are my hoyas. Most of them are flowering for the first time. At the left is Hoya obscura, while at the right is Hoya fungii. Whenever a new peduncle is growing, i am always on guard asking my sister and nephew the stage of development. The digital technology is very useful for remote control or absentee gardeners. When they texted me that one peduncle already opened, or one is about to open, i will surely go home to observe, watch and take photographs. I gothere after waking up, camera on hand, and stay there as long as i can still withstand the heat. At a distance in our terrace, my eyes and attention are still focused on them.                                      
This is the close-up of Hoya fungii. It gave simultaneous blooms for three umbels. The scent is also wonderful starting in the afternoon until the whole night. With scent alone the gardener is already rewarded.
This Hoya obscura is scented too. The size of the umbel is much less than the H fungii, but it makes up for its size by having many umbels flowering at the same time per stem. As for the scent, i guess it is just like beauty that depends on the eye of the beholder. For me and my senses, i prefer its scent than the former. It is in the nose of the beholder. Others might have the opposite preference!          


Today's Flowers

PS. This was published in May 2014, i was enticed to publish it again today to see that these plants are still growing now. However, due to the much extended dry season and hotter temperatures today, the flowers are not as plenty as last year. They are suffering the heat, just like us!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hoya merrillii and Visitor

Hoya merrillii is a prolific hoya. Once it started blooming the umbels will produce buds as soon as they are spent. Sometimes, there are even already young buds while other buds are still blooming. However, they don't form very nicely rounded umbels like the other hoyas in my collection. In fact, the first time they flowered they look so disorganized. But they produce a lot of umbels to compensate for the unharmonious patterns of the pedicels. 

 Here is a more arranged flowers in one umbel to give you an example of my description on top.

Here are two umbels arising from the same node. They are prolific aren't they? But look at the lenght and directions of the pedicels, unrully i tell you! They also have a mild scent that maybe very attractive to the moths and insects, but for me is not top of the line. That is because i have other hoyas with sweet scents that can be made into perfumes, if the nectars are just very plenty.

 I visited them one night and look who is its nocturnal visitor, a very lovely tiger moth. It actually stayed there for a long time only changing position to seep nectar.

 I am trying to make a close-up shot to see the proboscis in action. The moth is just about 2cm in length from the head to the tip of the wings.

Here is a cropped part to show you a more vivid detail where the end of its proboscis is directed into, for sucking nectar. It was pointed to the base of the corona, in between the corona and corolla. Hmmm, they are really built for that purpose. Imagine me also trying to sip the nectar! In my case i put my finger to dab on the nectar and taste it. I have tasted many species already. Hoya nectar tastes good, although i cannot just say the differences among the species.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blooms Amidst Drought

It is May, the month for our famous Santacruzan. It is supposedly the pageant on the last day of Flores de Mayo, held in honor of Helena of Constantinople and Constantine the Great finding the True Cross in Jerusalem. Ref: Wikipedia. This is formerly a Catholic religion's celebration of the said event, however these days it is an affair with too much fun and food just like during fiestas.  In our small community, the whole month of May is a social event when the nights are bonding opportunities for the people while doing the Flores de Mayo in the small chapel. Flowers are offered to the Virgin Mary, while ladies are singing the usual Flores de Mayo songs.

When we were younger we always join them in the daily early evening affair, a season of camaraderie too. So a lot of flowers are used nightly and kids roam the barangay to gather whatever flowers they can find. However this time, i am sure the kids had difficulty in gathering flowers, as we have a long dry season and ordinary flowers were almost totally dry.

 From these three pictures i took while riding in a bus to a nearby province, i would like to show you how our plants and agricultural fields fare with the changing climate. The above photo shows its susceptibility to fire. I wonder how animals and birds from these areas cope.

 Above is an agricultural upland landscape, showing you also the intensity of the dry season.

This is an ordinary rice field, normally these are farmed when water is available. Can you imagine what those carabaos eat from those barren lands! In our household we are also having water difficulty, so we fetch water taking our turns from the spring, where everybody goes this time of difficulty. We use jeepneys, tricycles and a lot of small containers to fetch water.

Nevertheless, no matter how dry our surroundings are, i can still show you some colors. I hope my previous photos will not depress you that much. So alleviate those previous feelings, i will give you my flowers of adddiction. Of course, they get some little water as if they are members of the family.

Heliconia rostrata is an exceptional plant, it flowers when the dry season is at its highest. Look at the almost scorched leaves, yet every plant has a long inflorescense. Insects are grateful for them.

Of course, everybody knows that bougainvilla is a dry season plant too. No matter how intense the heat of the sun is, they are very happy and produce more colors.


The above 2 plants are hoya. At the left is Hoya mindorensis, that even with very little watering it flowers all year round. The one above has actually 9 umbels at different stages of blooming. At the right is Hoya meliflua, with 12 umbels. Can you imagine if all the umbels flower at the same time! And the scent at our terrace is so lovely specially at night, because the small hoya garden is a meter far from the terrace.

 The above 2 photos are Hoya mindorensis

Above 2 photos are Hoya meliflua

Hoya mindorensis continuously flower when not stressed, however Hoya meliflua flowers only starting from May for about 3 months.

Hoya celata

 Hoya elmeri (2 above photos from start of opening to fully open flowers)

 Hoya soligamiana

 Hoya incrassata/crassicaulis

 Hoya imperialis

Hoya pubicalyx (2 above photos)

With my beautifully blooming hoyas, can you still visualize that we are at the height of our dry season? You will not be able to discern that from these flowers, so i intentionally put the actual photos at the the beginning. This way, you will be able to relate how difficult it is for us to maintain our hoyas in good condition. Only addiction can produce this difference!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Seashore Finds

I hope you remember the sunrise shots i showed you last week, from the beach only 3km from our house, yet i have just seen the sunrise for the first time. When the sun was already a bit up there, at 7:00am our time, the heat was already a bit intense driving me to seek refuge from the shadows of some vegetation. There i found a lot of interesting subjects too. Last time i showed the morning moon at the west. Here i will show you some unusual finds as well.

Pulang Bato (Red Rock) at the distance

This tree gave a formidable presence being alone at the shoreline giving a bizarre thrunk as shown above. I intensely looked at it thinking it experienced stresses in the past, to have those very unusual convolutions and contours at the base. I suppose it was not the waves that pounded it through time, but perhaps men inflicted harm on it. It was able to heal itself very well despite its difficult past! 

A trunk that experienced decades of unusual circumstance! At this age, we say it is a trunk with character! And it can produce long paragraphs of descriptions or discussions. 

 I looked up and these wonderful flowers amazed me. They are thoroughly inviting with those loud colors.

 There is a lot of inflorescence borne at the stem tips devoid of leaves. And the stems fully exposed to the sun borne the leaves in palmate arrangement.

 Some blackish brown pods bearing black seeds arise on bigger stems. I wonder if birds pollinated them too, as i didn't see any bird that time. If those seeds are fertile, then this tree could probably be brought by the waters here.

I posted this in Facebook asking for identification, which eventually surfaced as Sterculia foetida, or calumpang in the vernacular. Some search in the net showed medicinal values that even can be useful for diabetis.

  Another unusual find i had that morning are these pods, obviously dried fruits of some vines. They are also hanging from the Sterculia foetida tree posted above. However, i don't know the identity of this vine.

A lot of these dried pods are scattered on the trunks, but they are totally wilted that didn't allow me to know how the vegetative plant looks like.

I cannot touch them as they are high up on the tree. But they look hollow which might render them float on the sea after falling on the ground. Those sepals as wings will also allow them to reach distant places, where they can eventually germinate and continue the species.