Friday, November 30, 2012

Hibiscus rosa sinensis - The Flower of Malaysia

The so called single-petaled Hibiscus has a single tier of five petals. This red  variety is the national flower of Malaysia. It is robust, carries many blooms and rather disease-free so much so that at one time, it was commonly used as living hedges. Recently there seems to be a revival of  this practice.
The hibiscus flower appears to be quite cheeky with its "tongue" sticking out.

Small and pointy buds.


The petals are seen peeking out, waiting to burst at the seams of the calyx.

The next day it emerged and protruded forwards.

At this stage the bud looks like a stoma; Hello!

When the hibiscus is in full bloom, the petals flare out and curve slightly backwards. The edge of the petals are frilly.  

The staminal tube comprising anthers and five-branched stigmata hangs freely down and sways with the breeze.

With their striking vermilion hue, these Hibiscus flowers overshadow the Bougainvilleas which framed them from above and below. 

This variety has green-white variegated leaves, so is named 'Snowflakes'. 

An ant trekked up one of the five branches of the style and

 scrambled onto the tuft-covered stigma.

"It is easier to go down a hill than up,
but the view is from the top"
- Arnold Bennett


And the descent down.

The numerous anthers seem to be swollen with their contents. The stigmata are covered with fine filaments.

Later in the day the anthers burst to release fine pollens.

What is left after the petals dropped off the next day.

Given sufficient fertilizer, they bloom non-stop.

Hibiscus hedge just outside the arrival level at Kuala Lumpur international Airport (KLIA ).


This bush was transported from another garden in my hometown, then re-potted here in this urban setting where it seems to be thriving. In order to transplant this Hibiscus plant,  I had all the flowers and most of the leaves pruned off.

It was such a waste to dump it so they ended up in a vase.

A simple arrangement where leaves and flower are plonked into a glass globe of water.

A dish of Black Pepper Chicken with Bell Peppers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Heliconia rostrata - Hot-red Lobster Claws

Clumps of Heliconia rostrata (Hanging Lobster Claw) have been planted around the garden for its long pendulous flowers as well as using them as a living screen. They are also wonderful as cut flowers in large floral arrangement.

Heliconia rostrata thrives in full sunlight,

producing bright red blooms trimmed in yellow and lime green.

The colourful parts are actually the bracts.

The green horn aka the bud. 

Ants are gathering in heightened anticipation even before the bracts open up.

This clump was planted in the ground as border plants to function as an effective screen.

As the pendulous flowers elongate, it can become rather heavy and tilting occurs.

I used tie-wires to pulled them upright.

Together with the variegated Crotons plenty of colour was introduced into the garden.

This H. rostrata. is thriving happily in a container.

Three containers of Heliconia rostrata by the poolside afford partial screening and a tropical ambience.

They grew to about 10 feet high in containers and look quite wild.

This common garden snail was found resting on the cut end of a frond.

"Remember when life's path is steep to keep your mind even."
- Horace 

The large frond provide a good platform for sunbathing and viewing for this grasshopper.

The fronds are used as a sliding plane for these living toys.

Up and down they go from one broad leaf to another. The last one left standing is the winner.

A plate of Char Koay Teow a popular Malaysian dish of fried flat rice noodles with cockles and prawns. For added zest, a squeeze of calamansi will do nicely.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tecoma Stans - Cheery Yellow Bells

Tecoma Stans are cheerful and showy flowers to brighten the day. They bring on the sunshine even on dull days. 
I've rooted many cuttings and have them planted in as many spots as possible.

The cluster of delicate flowers are borne on racemes. 

A young and tender bud just prior to flaring out its petals.
Blurred images of lilac Hydrangea and red Alpinia purpurata are seen in the background.

Maroon striae runs down the throat.

 The flowers last about 2 to 4 days,

 and are replenished by newly bloomed ones so that the bush appears to be perpetually flowering. The blurred images of hot pink Madagascar periwinkle are seen inthe background.

Heavy showers bring down many of its delicate flowers.

Beans form rather easily with a row of viable seeds in each of them.

It is actually a climber so the stem is not strong and needs staking. It branches easily and I make it a practice to trim off most of them to maintain a sturdy stem.

This bush is container-planted to be trained into a two-tiered standard. Next to it is a Bougainvillea plant of green-yellow variegated leaves and white flowers.

This Pygmy Grass Blue (Zizula hylax pygmaeabutterfly perched tentatively on the tubular part of the flower and peered over its rim, as predators abound.

On the other hand, the ants threw caution to the wind and scrambled right in.

There is no shortage of visitors.

A tiny transparent spider lies in ambush on the side of a flower, waiting for ...

... the kill before striking a predator's pose in anticipation of its next meal.

A myraid of aphids have colonised this bud. The tiny white ones look like their babies or some other critters. This must be a new infestation as ants are not seen yet.

Another tender bud has been heavily populated by aphids making it look like a sequin-encrusted Christmas tree ornament. Aphids come in a variety of colours ranging from pale yellow, green, grey and black.

This cottony stuff covered a nest comprising numerous cells. As it was an empty nest, the ID of its inhabitants remains a mystery.

A soldier beetle rested on the underside of a leaf with its cast-off moult. It was very possessive of its shroud. When I turned the leaf over, it moved to the dorsal side of the leaf, but immediately came back and stayed closely next to it. I was told that it would later consume it for energy and growth.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” 
― Søren Kierkegaard

My sweet Tasha posing Marilyn Monroe-style between a Philodendron xanadu and a Tecoma stans bush. She was making an attempt to smile for the camera but ended up looking coy and langourous.

"The only disability in life is a bad attitude" - Scott Hamilton

A raceme of Tecoma stans and some Thunbergia erecta flowers in a Giant Clam shell.

A hot bowl of Cauliflower-Potato-Leek soup and Butter-Cheese toast for supper satiates the stomach for a good night's sleep.


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