Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Flowers on the beehive ginger

The beehive ginger has been doing so well and is just well placed at the end of my little path to nowhere so that the "flowers" can be seen from the gazebo or swing. I say flowers in inverted commas as the actual flowers come out of the little pockets as can be seen here: The plant is happy when the pockets are full of water - sort of like the bromeliad family.

This crucifix orchid has some wiry aerial roots forming.

Other flowers around the garden are the ixora which I used to create my christmas floral centerpiece: Christmas eve dinner was in the gazebo with citronella candles burning all around us - lovely and tropical. Yummy prawns and steaks on the barbie (barbeque) too busy to take photos of it though!

These are the ixora flowers in all stages from bud to flower
I hope everyone has had a wonderful christmas with loved ones and enjoying the break from everyday work. I am taking the time to clean out cupboards so I can start the New Year fresh and clean and clutter free! OK had my break now, back to cleaning out the pantry!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Costus with its delicate white flowers

This tropical plant called costus really comes into its own during the wet season.  I have often seen the most beautiful flowers and then taken a slip home, plunked it into the ground and then months later when the plant comes up I am not sure what kind of flower it will have.  I am hoping this green leaved one will have a red flower, but cant really remember where I got the original plant from. 
This variegated one I orginally started simply for the leaves and the lovely red stems.

 The delicate petalled flowers are an added bonus.  The flower head forms at the top of each stem. 

Each individual "flower" only lasts a day or two.

such a lovely delicate flower.......so glad I planted these.

I never promised you a rose garden......

I posted a while back how I was going to have a section of mondo grass alongside the path leading out from the back door.  Now the hubby is not a huge fan of mondo grass, so would continually "nag" me that it was not filling in enough, that it would look so much better if it were stone etc. etc.   I sort of dug my heels in, even though I agreed with him, but then the other day I realised that what I really had not been anticipating was weeding the mondo grass!

 This was supposed to be low maintenance, and was turning into high maintenance.  So I came home with some stones and before long, had dug up the grass, other than a nice neat edge of mondo so that the stones dont get into the mower.  Hubby was very helpful carrying in the stones, and chopping off tree roots, and I must admit toungue in cheek that it looks so nice! Gosh I hate to be wrong.

The other thing I was wrong about was that my darling hubby didnt like gardening.  The other area he has been "nagging" me about is the sweet potato patch next to the swing.   It does look a bit untidy, and I could possibly find another place to grow sweet potatoes. 

The thing is that he wants to grow roses! ( This man who said he never wanted anything to do with gardening :) :)   He bought me one rose bush on our anniversary last year and it has done surprising well.  Roses do notoriously badly in the tropics.  We have agreed that winter is the best time to plant them so I still have time to harvest my sweet ptotatoes as they should produce potatoes in the summer (right now). I might make a new potato bed right in the very back corner of the vegetable garden where nothing else is planned.   In fact I could plant some slips there right now.
It will be a nice area to grow roses, as it is just outside our bedroom window and we always sit there looking out at the garden having a cup of coffee over the weekends.  We need to make sure we get tropical roses, then do we want an arch? or an arbour with climbing roses..... have to make sure the colours are vibrant, what type of edging along the grass? Oh gosh - I forgot this is not my garden!  hands off! He said he wants to bring me in bunches of roses from his rose garden ... what I wonderufl hubby I have, I am so blessed.

I had to share a photo I took this morning -  The birds enjoy a bit of respite from the hot sun in the birdbath in dappled shade , and the mandevilla and cats whiskers just keep flowering and flowering..

It is so hot and humid right now, that most plants need a bit of shade to survive - I have a shade cloth over the vegetable garden  where I am growing mostly green manure crops
One thing I have noticed is that the two pumpkin patches that have appeared only have male flowers.  as I understand it the female ones will have a miniature fruit underneath the flower - or is that only once they are fertilized?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Butterfly on your shoulder

I was reading a post from a fellow blogger sanddune  who has a similar climate to mine - he lives in the tropics in Florida USA.  He was talking about butterflies and how difficult they are to capture on film.
It reminded me of one of my favourite poems - my younger daughter gave me this card on my 50th birthday.  She drew each of these butterflies from botanical drawings - I love the care and attention to detail.

I have posted the full poem in the right hand sidebar.
 She and my older daughter clubbed together and gave me a lovely diamond ring and it is so nice to have that with me all the time.  Soon after that I left the country and have been living in Australia for four years.  I love my husband and my new family dearly, but always at this time of year I feel a little sadness creep in that I am not physically living near my daughters.  I treasure these little reminders of their love. This blog started out from the monthly flower photos I used to share with them.  One magical visit when they both visited we went to the nearby butterfly sanctuary where thousands of butterflies flit around and land on your head, your shoulders and your arms.

 I hope and pray that my two lovely daughters always find butterflies lighting on their shoulders.......

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sad news all around

Firstly, over the weekend I put some bread out to rise near the honeyeater nest (my favourite spot - I realise afterwards, I should not have done that) and when I went to fetch it, she flew away - has not been back since. :(
We regularly walk out past the nest to harvest or work in the vegetable patch, or to throw out the garbage.  maybe it was just one too many times.
Then the other sad news is about my bottlebrush which has been struggling to produce blooms.  the ends seem to have had some sort of powdery disease, and I wondered if it would not happier in another spot as it was crammed in with a  lot of other plants.  During the wet season this can adversely affect plants, especially native plants.   I dug a hole out next to the front fence where I had been growing a pineapple.  I dug out the hole and then planted the bottlebrush, watered it in well, and sprinkled the leaves with seaweed tea.  I cant think of what I did wrong but the leaves started to wilt straight away and within a day all the leaves were dry and brittle.  there has been rain every day, so it wasnt a case of drying out.  I mention the pineapple in case that can cause something in the soil, but that sort of lies on top of the soil and had only been there a couple of months.   It hadnt been unhealthy other than not really flowering and having the powdery ends.  I have pruned it way back and am hoping for the best, but this was really sudden death if anything.  Would appreciate some ideas of what else I can do.  Too sad to take photos!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Updates on this and that

I have been assembling some photos to send on a disc to my mom for christmas, she has now got a DVD, but still no computer - oh how I wish she could kep updated by reading my blog!.  Here are some of the latest photos I took this weekend:

The gazebo is just perfectly placed to catch the lightest breeze and I often find myself taking advantage of this throughout the day as I work on odd gardening chores

I moved the bottlebrush from next to the arch - it opens up the walkway,(on the left of this photo) and I dont think the bottlebrush liked to be so crowded amongst the other plants. There were little white specks on the plant whch I thought might be whitefly, but they dont fly away when touched.  I planted it in the front against a wooden fence.  A yellow ixora has taken up its position.

I love the colour on this geisha girl, and it attracts birds, butterflies and bees to the garden.  The colour on this ground orchid seems almost surreal.

The honeyeater seems to have moved in, you can just see her little pointed bak sticking out - maybe they are starting a family!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wildlife and shredded leaves

I was adding some mulched leaves to my leaf mould bin, and decided to stir it up a bit. I was digging deep down when a very surprised little frog jumped out.  He teetered on ont he dge of the bin for a second then hopped onto the nearby pawpaw tree.  Luckily my camera was close by.  You can see a little bit of shredded leaf still stuck to him.  I think this kind is generally a bright green - they seem a little chameleon-like - they change colour according to their surroundings.  If I can find him tommorrow I will see if he has changed colour.

then I thought I would add an update to the honeyeaters nest that I posted a story of about a week ago.  He has brought his wife along to inspect and there was a lot of discussion, she flew off and since then he has been busy adding an eave over the entrance and also padding the inside with lovely soft feathers, so it looks as if it was apporoved with updates!  Very anxious to see  if they will start a family here!

as you can see he has also been into my shredded leaves!  Isnt it amazing how this sticks together - some of it is just hanging on by a thread!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Flowers in sunshine

There is something just so very pretty about the sunlight reflecting off these pink ground orchids, and I find the more photos I take the better my pictures get!  (well I think so anyway).  I am planning on replacing my camera in July, so I am sure they will improve then.  (I am still using a 3.5 mp kodak easyshare that is at least 8 years old and has travelled to South africa, Tanzania, England and Australia).

My shrimp plant seems to struggle - I am not sure why.....

The pale pink begonia enjoys a little sunshine as well, but during the heat of the day is happy in the moist shade.

The tree fern loves this weather and has been putting out new curly fronds - I love how this one seems deep in contemplation - "shall I stretch out today?"  As the fronds do open up the stalk is filled with lovely little curliques, isnt it just beautiful?

I did it - I ate some sweet potato leaves!

I have been hearing about how tasty sweet potato shoots and leaves are, (not regular potato leaves - they are poisonous) then even saw them for sale at the local saturday market.  So armed with my scissors I trimmed back my sweet potato patch, and laid the shoots and leaves gently in the steamer.  Wow!  how tasty they were - not at all slimy (a lot of what is referred to as spinach-like  here can be very slimy)  definitely will be having that on the menu a bit more often!
It is very hot and humid at the moment - not as much rain as expected, but we have had a few good downpours. My tropical wet season vegetables are showing their stuff:  this is the pigeon pea that I innoculated so that when trimmed back they wil release nitrogen into the soil.

This is the amaranth - have never tried it, but it sounded such an interesting plant.  the seeds were so tiny and difficult to sow evenly.  I nibbled on a leaf and it was pretty tasteless - maybe they need to get a little bigger.  I am not sure how to harvest them - I am hoping I can trim the tops to eat and they will branch out. Anyone got any advice?  I also want to taste the grains and save some seeds, but not sure I am going to be harvesting enough to bake with it! 

Here is the loofah vine starting to flower:

Then the jicama, or yam bean as they are called here.  They say when the flower dies the tuber starts to form - I am imagining it will start to poke out of the ground similar to a sweet potato.  It looks a little like a pea flower, but they only grow in cold weather here.

Here is a pod starting to form - by the way the plant, flower and pod are poisonous, but I am looking forward to some nice crunchy jicama soon!

So thats it for today as I sit inside my air conditioned office - way too hot to go out in the middle of the day unless it is to jump into the pool for a swim!


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