Friday, April 29, 2011

Geurilla Gardening

My neighbour behind me was thinning out some of her spider lilies so I asked if she had any to spare.   She has also cleared out a lot of the red gingers that was a backdrop to our garden, and I miss them - I had enjoyed that continuity. It made it seem as though our garden extended on  into hers, making ours seem much bigger than it is. I gave her a sexy pink lady and red heleconia in exchange for the spider lilies. Soon we will have that green backdrop again.
We live in a set of units, so there is a communal area that I have been trying to spruce up myself.  If our surrounding area is lovely and well cared for then the value of our property is increased, so to me it is a win win situation.  I have more garden to play in as well!  The path leading to the pool has two rows of palm trees and it is notoriously diffiult to grow anything under palm trees, so I had been thinking I should look out for something that grows like a weed.  Well spider lillies fit the bill I think.   I cut the tops off, and loosened the soil as deep as I could, althuogh you couldnt really call it soil - not a worm in sight!  I hope they are as hardy as they seem.

 The area looks a bit tragic now, but as soon as green shoots start appearing it will look nice.
This is another area that had nothing but a golden palm, and about a year ago I started to add a few plants, and now it is looking really lovely.  It hides the rubbish bins from view. A bonus is that the red flowers here attract Ulysses butterflies.
I guess this could be called geurilla gardening.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bleeding heart vine

I read about this vine on a Florida blog a  year or so ago (I think it was Floridagirl) and was excited to see one on the clearance rack, so snapped it up.  It suffered badly during our wet season - I could never see the bugs, but something was madly attracted to its leaves.   A couple of months back I cut it right back and it began to send out some branches and this time the leaves stayed, and then I was excited to see some little white flowers.  Oh pretty, I thought, but in the back of my mind I had thought there was some red involved in the flowers - then I saw little red buds appearing at the base of the flowers.

Then some of the  red flowers opened up - how cool is that! 

 I am so glad I persisted with this vine.  It is called a bleeding heart vine.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Apr 27, 2011

This is a re=post of my garden tour - somehow the original video got deleted!  I was a little hasty in my tidying up of excess photos. 
Just double-click on the photo and you will be directed to the video.  Just ignore if you have already done the tour, but I wanted to keep it as a reference when I do further videos.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter break was a time for refreshemnt and renewal

Coming to the end of a five day weekend  (yes I do love the fact we get so many holidays in Australia) we had a brunch out in the garden this morning and I realised just how special it is to live here in the tropics. This is my favourite time of the year when the humidity and temperature drop.  We have had a lot of wind and two days ago I mulched up every single leaf and now the back garden is full of fallen leaves again.  There is nothing I would rather be doing though than messing about in the garden. 
There are deep depressions in the vegetable garden where I cleared away the sugar cane mulch and planted out my little parsley seedlings.  I suspect that horrible can toads have gone and sat on the seedlings, wiggling their ugly bums into the earth and squashing the seedlings flat.  I am going to have to find a way to get rid of them. the cane toads, not the seedlings!

My Ulysses caterpillar curled himself up against the branch and has now formed its chrysalis.  I am counting down the days and will begin to keep an eye on it - thinking it will be about 10 days to 2 weeks. 

 This is now known as orchid corner.  we hung a piece of bamboo across the corner to suspend the orchids from. Hopefully that will give them just that little bit of morning sunshine.  It is looking a little untidy at the moment, but as the stephanotis vine fills in I am hoping it will look better.  Above the fence is a pink bougainvillea so that area should be quite colourful.  Orchids are actually quite untidy plants no matter what you do with them, I find.
 My white orchid is looking lovely and seems to like its new home.
 I feel renewed and refreshed after my Easter break.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Oh, oh oh - new catterpillars!

By now you probably think I am a caterpillar fanatic and I must admit I do seem to be turning into one.
About two years ago at the local markets I bought this little straggly tree/bush and the lady said that it would host Ulysses butterflies.  I have moved it around a few times and it is still a very straggly tree/ bush... but.......
we were sitting on the swing enjoying a avocado sandwich when I suddenly looked at a spot on the straggly tree/bush.  Wow!  that is exactly what a Ulysses butterfly caterpillar looks like - big smile - I rushed to get the camera.
 This one seems to be gathering the leaves together and there is some sort of web on the leaves.
Oh now this plant is paying its way!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Two more Orchard Swallowtail butterflies emerge

Over the weekend two more butterflies emerged.  Now hopefully the lime tree can get back to the job of producing limes instead of hosting catterpillar sleepovers.   This was the first to emerge.
 There is a lot of black on this one - it is a male.  You can see the empty dry crisp chrysalis.  In the final days it becomes quite black and I realise it is becoming quite thin and the black you see is actually the butterflies wings.
 Arent they the most delicate design on these exquisite creatures?  It reminds me of the stippling technique my daughter used to practice in art clases.  Intricate tiny dots.
 Then this little lady appeared!  Isnt she pretty?  this is the female - you can see how much white there is on her wings.
 They spend quite a few hours hanging onto the branch before they can fly off.  They seem to be quite wet too, and need to dry off in the early morning sunlight - they always emerge just before dawn.  You can see a little drop of moisture just hanging from her body.
 Here is the back of the female, so now I can quite easily tell the difference between the male and the female.
I feel so blessed to be able to witness this miracle of life transforming right in my very own yard.   

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tumeric - now in a more accessible place

During the last wet season I simply forgot about the turmeric, and then when I did venture down the scary forest path I saw that it was leaning drunkenly over and I thought maybe it was planted too shallowly.  I added a bit more compost around the base, but realized that might make the rhizomes too wet. This weekend I began to dig around the area and discovered that in fact some of the rhizomes were a little soft and pulpy.  I dug out a large bit and am moving that into the "perennial" bed in the vegetable garden. Besides being more convenient  to harvest I can also see the wonderful flowers easier.  Here you can see what I dug up.  Look at all those cool mycellium strands - that means I have good soil :)
I washed off the rhizomes and put some into the fridge.  Most people say to dry it and grind into a powder, but because the humidity is so high here I mostly shy away from drying things.  In the past I have just kept a piece of the rhizome in the freezer to grate as needed - the same as I do with ginger.
The perennial bed started out with 4 asparagus, but the crown alongside the paw paw died, so I just have a row of three asparagus crowns.  Behind it I popped in some galangal which has done well, and next to that, my clump of lemon grass.  So now I have added turmeric to my little spice corner.  I hope the asparagus doesn't feel as though it is being crowded out.   I also have one purple asparagus that grew from seed (out of a pkg of 8 seeds!)  I will plant that out and maybe if any other asparagus pop up I could have two rows of asparagus, with the exotic spice section behind it.
I think this weekend I will try and cook a tasty meal using galangal, lemon grass, ginger and turmeric. Maybe Thai chicken soup, although that doesn't use any turmeric.  Turmeric has lots of health benefits, and I might try making some turmeric and ginger tea as well.  It is good for diabetes, preventing Alzheimer, reducing inflammation - in fact it is the new wonder drug!  Growing right in my backyard!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Watching and waiting...

The weather is cooling down a bit now and the humidity is definitely a bit more bearable.   It is lovely out in the garden and since I have been a bit under the weather I have been spending a bit of time just sitting in the swing enjoying the garden.  I need to do more of that, I think.  
Once the flowers fell off off the lipstick plant it developed these long tendrils - arent they strange?  I wonder if they contain some sort of seed?

In other news I broke down and bought a bale of sugar cane mulch.  It is much more expensive than the hay mulch I normally get from my farmer neighbour, but he doesnt seem to have any this year.  It is quite finely chopped so spreads easily and right away I could tell everything was happy to be bedded down between these billowy clouds of mulch.

 I have never grown zuchini before, and it seems quite happy.  I am waiting to see which of these pawpaw plants it a female - she will stay and the rest will go.  I am hoping they are the red ones, since I planted quite a lot of the red seeds in this area, but pawpaw still come up as weeds everywhere....
I have quite a few seedlings  that are slowly getting bigger, nothing seems as quick as I had hoped for though.   Cucumbers are forming so they might be our first harvest.  Oh! I forgot - I have nibbled on a few green beans and one cherry tomato.  What I really want though is the need to buy one of those lovely harvesting baskets so I can stuff it chock a block full of veggies :)
Oh, I am so hoping for a prolific vegetable garden this season.....

Friday, April 8, 2011

Slash and drop

I got into the garden over the weekend and slashed down the excess branches instead of removing anything.  Most of the leaves that fall from the lychee tree are mulched for the compost but some just lie around on the ground in the tropical plant area under the tree. If there were some greens mixed in they would not be robbing too much nitrogen as they decompose. (just my theory).  That is what works on the forest floor anyway. I thought it might be a good idea to stand at the end of the stone path which is pretty much the middle of the tropical garden and take a panoramic series of photos for you.  This is looking out towards the big gate, with the side fence off to the right.  This is facing approximately south.
This could be called palm corner I suppose.  Two fan palms are against the fence, with one sago palm in front of the tree fern.  There is a franzipani and some amaryllis, that have had trouble flowering and I hope they do better in this area, amazon lilly, ground orchids, persian shield, with bougainvillea and stephanotis climbing over the fence and gate.  My favourite plant in this area is the tree fern, and I love how the leaves uncurl from this...
 then looking out towards the gazebo - I think I might put a few extra anthiriums in this area - not sure if they need more sunlight in order to flower.  The red leaves are the back of the rex begonia leaves, they like this spot, so I could subdivide those as well.   It does look a little sparse since I put in the path, and maybe the plants just need a bit more time to adapt and fill in.   I am tempted to try some potted violets here since Dianne wrote about them on her post here bat plant and violets - I think one of those bat plants would be stunning here as well.  This is the area you look out at from the gazebo so I want to have a few more interesting things going on.
 Then behind the tree - if the plants weren't in the way you would be looking out towards the back where the butterfly garden and then the vegetable garden is.  These red gingers are the sort of backbone to the garden - always in flower.  The African mask in the foreground does need to keep being cut back, and you can only see it once you go down this path, but I like to keep some surprises for people that venture into the garden.  Right in the very front of the photo is this ginger that doesn't seem to have flowers but the underside of the leaves is red, and so it always supplies flashes of colour which is nice.
Then straight towards the back fence - if you look carefully you can just see the back of the big heleconia. The fence is the end of our property and the stone path provides access to the back of these plants. (you can get there from the other path) As you can see I have used similar plants to my neighbour and this creates the illusion that I have a garden that goes on forever - clever hey?

 then we are back to the wooden fence again - right in the back corner is the very tall sexy pink lady which goes right up into the lychee tree.  Off to the left is  a plant with burgundy leaves that I inherited in a pot which it had overgrown, and am hoping it will eventually climb the whole fence - it is lovely when the light shines through from behind and casts a red glow.
So there you have it  - a 360 degree tour of my small tropical garden, but I think it packs a punch.  I am glad I cut things back - it makes it easier to control what is growing too wild, and also I am hoping for more flowers once more light gets in.  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Heleconia opens up more

I think this heleconia deserves a post of its very own -  it has opened up even more now -  you still have to go into the "scary, deep forest," as my grandson calls it. 
I first noticed this starting to colour up on the 21st March, so it has taken about three weeks to open up this much.  I am always tempted to cut my big flowers that you don't see easily, but I like the idea of having to work a bit harder to access this one.  We have some friends visiting from England this weekend - I wonder if they will venture down the scary deep forest path to see it? 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Colour co-ordinated butterfly

Can butterflies see colour?  How on earth did this butterfly know that he would match this bucket so perfectly?  It is full of some compost I dragged out the bottom of my composter - there must be some good stuff in there.....or maybe this was a modelling opportunity he couldnt miss?
 I was hoping for some dry weather this weekend, but it looks like more rain is on the way.
Never mind, I dont have much time for gardening.  We are hoping to have a family brunch out in the garden on sunday so still holding thumbs for good weather for that.

My hubby took the photos while I was at work, so I missed seeing him.
 (Hubby is a good photographer isnt he?)

 this is aptly named the blue triangle butterfly.

I wish you a butterfly filled sunny weekend! 


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