Thursday, July 10, 2014

Busy As A Bee

Its no wonder the phrase "busy as a bee" was coined. Whenever the flowers in my garden are in bloom, honey bees (Apis mellifera)  jet in, making a beeline for their favourites.

To get at the sweet nectar of these portulaca grandiflora blooms, they can curve, contort and assume all sorts of posture.


The pristine white flowers of Echinodorus palaefolius (mexican sword plant) provide numerous opportunities for them to imbibe.

Double-petaled Quisqualis indica (Rangoon creeper) exude a delicate fragrance to ensure their visitation.

The flowers of Cuphea hyssopifolia (Mexican Heather) are tiny, but they made up for it in numbers. 

They scramble over the filaments of Calliandra emarginata (Dwarf Red Powder Puff) to get at the nectar located at their bases.

This is a smart cookie as it go through the "back door" to have the goodies without having to return the favour of spreading the pollens.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Philodendron bipinnatifidum - The Lacy Tree Philodendron

Lacy tree philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum or P. selloum) grows large with enormous glossy leaves that are deeply divided into narrow, wavy-margined lobes. The leaves are held on long petioles and  reach up to 3 ft  long. Older and larger plants develop leaves that are more deeply dissected and more ruffled. For this characteristic, it is also called the Split-leaf philodendron. The plant itself grows to a height of 10 feet or more and a broad spread of up to 8 feet. It requires little care except for the occasional trimming of the lower leaves.

The easiest way of propagating this plant is to simply cut the top section and take at least two strong roots.  This top cutting can then be potted and the old stem which is now leafless will eventually produce new leaves, usually in two to three clusters.

The leaves are broad and lush taking up lots of room in the planter box.

The pinnated leaves are borne on long petioles which extend them high up.

The stem is the central axis of the plant and provides support. However it tends to fall over and sprawl when the plant gets large.

View from outside the dining area

The broad leaf provided ...

a soft landing for a fallen fledgling sparrow. I put it back on the nest above.

Tasha positioned herseif under the Philodendron bipinnatifidum to have a cool  lookout for birds and cats.

Here a smaller specimen of Philodendron bipinnatifidum is seen to be equally happy in a relatively small container.

Filtered light through the leaves provide just the right touch of solar nourishment for delicate plants below.

The columnar flower bud emerges from a leaf axil. The inflorescence consists of a 1 ft long white spathe enclosing an upright spadix with many tiny pale yellow petalless flowers.

The robust stem shows typical 'leaf scars' forming an interesting pattern. Stout, aventitious aerial rootlets are seen sprouting out between conspicuous leaf scars. 

A sparrow was seen cracking a seed under the broad canopy of the Philodendron bipinnatifidum.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Alocasia macroorrhizos - Giant Elephant Ears

Alocasia macroorrhizos, (Upright Elephant Ears, Giant Taro, Wild Taro) is a stunning plant that can be found growing by roadsides and in jungles, more often next to jungle streams.  Its should be watered well especially in hot weather and as the plant grows larger. However, too much water will rot the tuber. To avoid this, well draining soil is imperative. 

When planted in the ground and fed regularly with organic fertilisers, it will easily grow up to ten feet high.  If grown in a container, it will not reach its full potential, unless the pot is very large. Over time, it will develop a tree-like stem. Offsets (plantlets) are produced from mature plants. These baby Alocasias can then be easily transplanted.

It can be planted in either sun or in shade. The plants here grow in full sun together with the Bougainvilleas.

A leaf bud unfurled over about three to four days from ... 

... the stalks of older leaves.
When the leaf first make its way out, it is held stiffly upwards, with prominent veining on the underside of the leaves. The large emerald green leaves are glossy and can measure up to three feet long.  

Over time, the leaves bend over.

On the underside of the large leaves, insects abound.
A pair of ladybugs huddled together for some coziness.

Close-ups of the playful pair.

I was curious about a whitish film until I saw this many legged arachnid and immediately identified as a tiny spider.

This is the elaborate web strung up by this little fella to trap unsuspecting and unfortunates critters.

Tiny larvae moving away from the nest to make it on their own.

The young spathe standing tall and erect in its sheath.

An autumnal-looking leaf is a sure sign that it had reached its golden years 

An elegant looking fly with a blue iridescent coat was deeply attracted to the golden colouring.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Neomarica longifolia - Yellow Walking Iris

Neomarica longifolia have yellow flowers with mottled brown markings. It can be propagated by rhizomes or from the offsets formed from the flowering stem. It can be planted in partial shade, but for showy blooms, it is best to locate under full sun.

The leaves are sword like and upright and can extend up to 2-3 feet.

Fully extended petals  

The centre is mottled with brown markings.

At the end of the day, the petal closes and drop off the next day. Each flower last only one day, but the following day, another one will takes its place, ensuring that the clump is always adorned with blooms.

When flowering is done, little plantlets "pups"developed next to the spent blooms. These can be harvested and planted elsewhere. 

If nothing is done about it, the flowering stem gets weighted down to the ground allowing the plantlets to get rooted and replant themselves. Over time, the clumps will continue in all directions, änd literally walked" to a new spot.
However when planted in a container, the "walking" will somehow be restrained. I started planting the pups not too long ago. Now here it is rewarding me with blooms.

The denuded petiole is one of the dragonflies' favourite holding post.

The purple and red Dawn dropwing dragonfly adds another layer of colours to the image.

Golden dragonflies are also commonly seen on the clumps. 

A Thunbergia Erecta flower is seen in the background.

The flower fly however prefer the leaf blade 


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