Friday, April 18, 2014

Heliconia x nickeriensis - The Parakeet Flower

Heliconia x nickeriensis (Parakeet Flower, Parrot's Beak) is a hybrid between H. psittacorum and H. marginata. It can be planted in partial shade to full sun and is almost disease-free. A very vigorous growing plant, it can reach up to about 6 to 8 feet in height and is a prolific bloomer. It likes humidity and with fertilizer, produces blooms throughout the year.
The more colourful orange parts are actually the bracts. Bracts are orange-red with a yellow border and yellow rachis. The wide stretch of the bract makes an ideal perch for this tiny sunbird.

The striking colours make them stand out dramatically against the green foliage. They can also be planted in containers and make excellent cut flowers.
Its tall upright lance-like leaves have long leaf stalks that look more like banana leaves. 

A colourful insect bearing the same colours as the bract-flowers purposefully ascends, towards the flower spikes.

The 'stem' is actually made up of rolled leaf bases and the flowers emerge from the centre. When the flowers fade, the stems should be pruned off to to encourage new growth and also to generally tidy up for improved appearance.

Heliconias are generally invasive. As seen here, it has invaded a flower bed of Allamanda cathartica.

Red-green leaves of Dracaena marginata, tiny red flowers of Russelia equisetiformi and Heliconia nickeriensis  growing happily in tight confines.

This series of pictures were taken very early in the morning when it was still not bright.

A female sunbird landed on one of the bracts to ponder the nectar within.

When it was done, it suddenly took flight. I didn't have time to dial up the shutter speed, resulting in a blurred image.

The maturing flower spike.

A fully formed bloom with eight tiers of bracts. 

  A solitary ant did an investigation of the flower.


A bee posturing at the tip of a true flower.  

   An Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis) hope from a flower pot onto the ledge of the flower planter box and ... 

rest under the shade of the foliage.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thunbergia Grandiflora - A Sky Blue Curtain

I have this vine of Thunbergia Grandiflora and Tristellateia australasiae (Maiden's jealousy) planted on the right side of the house. Both were trained to clamber up the wall and cascade down the front of the car porch.

The Tristellateia australasiae vine is slower growing and just managed to reached the top of the porch. Its canary yellow flowers can be seen peeking out on the right side.

 This photo was shot in the late afternoon, so a number of blooms have wilted under the searing heat of the sun.

Over time this curtain gradually grew thick and lush.

The sky-blue flowers are the favourites of Carpenter bees.

A carpenter bee buzzes in without much ceremony.

  Thunbergia blooms on vine intertwined merrily with a tecoma stans shrub.

The flaming red spikes of Alpinia purpurata (Red ginger torch) added a dollop of dramatic pigments to an otherwise pastel curtain of sky-blue flowers.

Ants at a gathering on the underside of the leaf.

Come dusk, it was chow-down time for this scavenger snail.

A vessel of freshly-plucked flowers make for a welcoming eye candy.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ruellia Elegans and Sunbirds

The various flowering plants in the garden are a great source of delight as they bring in the birds. The easy to plant Ruellia elegans is one such plant. They bloom year round and the birds visit daily. Any time that I step out into the garden, there would be avian activities to amuse me.

I saw this cluster of red Ruellia elegans flowers bobbing up and down and sure enough a sunbird was busy nectaring.

It sipped with its fine curved beak, while at the same time looking up intermittently to watch out for signs of danger.

At the slightest sound, it flew off to secure perches, but returned soon after.

  The bud with fine silvery hairs.

The pretty bloom.

It dropped of after two to three days, but still attached to the plant through a fine filament of the reproductive system.
After the flower had completely detached.

 Ruellia elegans and Tecoma stans.

Thanks to Andrea of Kalantikan, Ruellia is spelt without the 's'. I've make the correction.


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