Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bananas Galore

Dwarf banana (Musa) trees, are most ideal in a small garden. In about four to six months, this variety will start to sprout flowers, followed by fruits when the trunk is about five feet tall.
The young fruits are covered by flap-like petals.

The young fruit-bearing stalk.

These are the young green horns - immature bananas.

The shrivelled up flowers at the end of the fruits take some time to drop off.

I planted it for the fruits as well as the leaves which have many uses in Malaysian cuisine. The large fronds are beautiful and provide good shade.

This whole bunch of fruits is heavy and need support to hold it up. I used old broomsticks to buttress the fruit stalk.

This is part of the harvest. The rest were given away to neighbours and friends.

When ripened to a golden yellow they are delicious on its own. The home grown green mangoes are from the backyard garden of Dr AngST while the oranges are from California.

The eating experience can be enhanced with fruit yogurt, a sprinkle of toasted sunflower seeds, and a drizzle of Bailey's cream.

Prawn otak-otak.

A dish of prawns, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, chillies, onions, garlic, wrapped in banana leaf and steamed.

The otak-otak is yummy eaten straight from the banana leaf. It also made a delicious savoury spread on toast.

Chay kwai teow is one of Malaysia's favourite dish. It is a dish of fried flat rice noodles, bean sprouts, chives and cockles. Serving it on a piece of banana leaf enhances the eating experience.

A delicious custard with sweet corn kernels, java flour and coconut milk (santan).

The cooked custard mixture is wrapped in scalded banana leaf and chilled. The blue pea flower, Ternatea Clitorea is often used as a food dye.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Changing Hues of Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangeas are common in temperate climes but it can still be planted succesfully in the tropics if conditions are rendered suitable.  It is imperative to plant them  in partial shade or under filtered sunlight. Copious amount of water is needed to counter the onslaught of the harsh afternoon sun, otherwise they will wilt and look very sorry.
This bush of Hydrangea was about six months old before it started to bloom. It originated from a cutting taken from the Mother bush. Based on my own personal experience, Hydrangea cuttings take root easily with almost 100% success rate.

A common garden snail moved in the direction of this bloom. From my observation, snails don't fancy hydrangeas as tasty grubs. Actually it was merely seeking refuge under the leaves before the sun burns fiercely down.

The buds start off as green with the blue hue coming later as they blossom.

A few clusters can be found on the same branch.

This single inflorescence is terminal and is so large ...

 it drooped under its own weight.

A hint of pink start to appear on the blue blooms.

The colours gradually fade.

Hydrangeas can change colour according to the soil type. I took a cutting from a bush of blue hydrangeas and planted it on the other side of the garden. Months later, I was pleasantly surprised ...

 to find this pink hue on the first blooms.

Subsequent blooms remained pink ever since. I hope that it would not revert to its original blue colour as I have lots of the latter.

As the flowers matured, they took on a bluish tinge.

This touch of blue is quite prominent on this cluster which ...

faded as it aged.

This bloom is about three months old. It still look good so I am reluctant to deadhead it.

A tree frog was resting quietly on the stem, partially hidden from view.

I lifted up its cover to get a better image. It had no objection at all and allowed me to take as many pictures as I wished. It is a cute little thingy in spite of its slimy look.

Life is a travelling to the edge of knowledge, then a leap taken. 
- David Herbert Lawrence 

Some snippets of Hydrangea in a small vase brings a lovely touch of sky-blue indoors. I don't normally trim Hydrangeas as cut flowers since they last like forever in the bush.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Crossandra infundibuliformis - The Firecracker Flower

Crossandra infundibuliformis is a must have if you want to add a perpetual dash of orange and yellow hues to the garden. It is a great performer and never fails to disappoint.
Crossandra infundibuliformis ‘Tropic Flame’ is salmon-orange in colour.

This container of ‘Tropic Flame’ sits preetily at the driveway.

 It is showy and displays numerous blooms all the time.

Flowers are carried terminally on upright spikes, reminiscent of firecrackers. To me they look like mini bouquets of flowers.

 THe spikes continue to produce flowers after the previous ones are done. 

Crossandra infundibuliformis is easily propagated from stem cuttings. 

Pink and white Portulacas happily reside in the same container.

Crossandra infundibuliformis 'Lutea' is deep yellow.

It is equally floriferous but more dainty than the 'salmon-orange'.

The spikes continue to produce flowers terminally for months before turnng brown. Deadheading these brown spikes will tidy up the bush. This is all the care needed besides the routine watering and fertilising.

Shot at dusk.

'A flower is an educated weed' - Luther Burbank

Three spikes of Crossandra lutea in an Irish shot glass. Since I do not have the Leprechaun's pot of gold, I shall make do with these mini golden bouquets.


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