Monday, July 30, 2012

Arbour day

I am so grateful for the few trees that I have in my small garden. The lychee tree, now that it has been pruned way back is not providing the shade and shelter that it used to for the many brids that visit our garden. On Saturday morning as I sat enjoying my breakfast  out in the garden I noticed about 25 birds fly into the weeping tea tree. I just sat and enjoyed their chatter - clearly they found something to nibble on - or else they were vandals as there were lots of snipped off branches being flung to the ground. I ran to get the camera, and they flew away - never to return... This is where they were though :)

Behind the fence are lots of big trees in my neighbours garden, so I am not tree less at all!  I like the way my garden seems bigger because of this.  Even though the big shady tree has been vastly reduced down there are plenty of other trees around.  No room to plant another one for arbour day though, so I just enjoyed the trees I had. This little area is certainly enjoying more sunshine.
I love these heart shaped caladium leaves back and
This purple salvia has lain dormant for about two years, just waiting for some sunshine I guess...
The rex begonia is really strutting its beautiful flowers.  Funny I always thought they preferred shade!
Yup I would say this is one section that is  not missing those big shady branches.

What did you do this arbour day - plant a tree or just enjoy the ones you have already?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bromeliads, how best to plant them

I have acquired two new bromeliads, three if you count the one I got from the clearance rack about a month ago.   That was flowering, and I figured would put a new pup soon - but that is when they are often put on the clearance rack, discarded.   I have done that before, and then suddenly one day begin to wonder what happened to that plant, only to discover that it must have gone to bromeliad heaven or dissolved into a pile of slime or something, but really is no-where to be found.

I know I had one of these matchstick bromeliad - I have a photo of it blooming on my blog, but where did it go? 
This one with the zigzag sides is different I am sure I have not seen one like it in my garden before - have no idea what the flower would look like, but think it might be a viresia? 
 The other tall ones like this have flowered occasionally with a beautiful flower.  Once again I have proof, looking back on my blog.  How often do they flower though?  Should I pull off the new pup or leave them cleaved together as they are - mother and child?
My bromeliad bed sits there, multiplying and occasionally putting out a bit of color, but in all honesty is not my favorite part of the garden.  

  I have mixed in other plants occasionally, added a few rocks in what I think is an artistic design before removing them knowing that is not what I am looking for.  I guess I need to remove the older "parents", and clean up some of the dying fronds.   I am not sure I want to keep them in pots, but really not sure what will make this area look  a little more artistic and a little less like a pile of bromeliad dumped between the grass and the stones.    
I am going to sink some stepping stones into the grass to create a path alongside, and think this might be a good time to improve the look of this bed.  Any ideas?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My love affair with Rex

My first sight of a Rex Begonia at a friends house made me do a double take.  "Gosh what is that plant with the gorgeous foliage?" I asked.   Take a piece she said - it will root, and it sure did.  I love the grey top colour and the pinkish undersides.   Here the grey, green and pink create a very colorful palette.

It loved me back,
and from that little piece I now have three pots, and I even began to wonder if it needed to be in a pot, so planted one in the ground, which is doing fine  Others said that the flowers were of no consequence, and that the foliage was the real beauty.   The flowers do appear rather unnoticed,  but very, very pretty little things they are.

I recently acquired another Rex and this one has a more flamboyant variegated green leaf, and has just recently started flowering.... I love the little hairs, and the pretty, pretty flowers, held so high and proud above the leaves.   They have to get away from the leaves in order to shine out - each vying for attention.

 Aren't they just too cute for words?

Definitely a love affair going on here.

I am a little late, but am joining in with Carol at maydreamsgardens for Garden bloggers bloom day, and since I am also so in love with the foliage of the rex begonia I am joining with pam at digging for foliage follow up.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sunshine and rain brings out the colors

Look at the big branches of the lychee tree! - there are new little branches shooting up all over the place :)  Aren't they cute?

 I moved the ponytail palm out from under the gazebo to give us more room for entertaining, and it too seems to like the sunshine.   We have had some rain, and the skies are mostly cloudy, but  that just means the plants have had some time to adapt to more light, and gosh they all seem to be loving it.  There are still plenty of ratty looking leaves, and bare spots, but all in all I think recovery is good.
The caladiums are also popping out all over the place - they were trampled right down during the tree lopping, but seem none the worse for wear.   This one I got from my neighbor - what a huge leaf!
 I love this native ginger - it doesn't seem to have any flowers but with the underside of the leaf being red it actually is always adding color.
 Another caladium popping out and enjoying the sunshine is this speckled one.  I don't remove the bulbs and replant - just leave them to naturalize and spread wherever they want to.
 The anthiriums have come through with flying colors, and are all looking quite happy again.
Everyone wants this unseasonable rain to stop, but I must say that my garden is just loving it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Slow recovery

The area under the tree is still looking a bit sad, but here are there are signs of new life - a new shoot, or bud, a downtrodden plant perking up.  The anthirium leaves got very sun burnt, but there are new buds, so I think all is well.

I thought the African mask was quite a hardy plant, and that too suffered for  a while but now I see new growth.

 I got a couple of cordeline branches from the markets - just to fill in a few bare spots.  I like this one with the white pink and green. Cordelines are so easy to propagate - stick a branch into the soil and watch them grow!
I also filled a few blank spots with some bromeliads, and they have turned a lovely red in the center..

The branches that already has leaves are sending out new shoots, even the lopped off branches are showing  signs of new life.  I don't know how long it will be until we have shade, but the garden is adapting.

I still have a shade cloth over my most tender plants, and I guess that will stay until there are some more leaves on the branches above that section.
The flowering plants seem happier to have more sun - inpatients and balsam, and the ground orchids are sending out new leaves.  Still not pretty enough for a long view though - that will have to wait.....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pigeon peas and cucumbers

There is lots of color out in the veggie patch.  The pigeon pea are flowering - they start off red and then open up to yellow.

Aren't they pretty close up?
These have taken a while to form beans, but in the meantime they have acted as a support for the winged beans, and of course they are nitrogen fixing plants, so are continually harnessing and trapping nitrogen for the other plants to use.  You can see a fuzzy bean just beginning to form.  I have not been so keen on the taste so use them mainly for amending the soil.
The cucumbers are also twirling up into this bush - it seems to be a great year for cucumbers.  The flesh of the cucumbers is green and they are soooo crunchy.  My little two year old grand daughter loves them - it made my heart soar to pick a cucumber and then watch her eat the whole thing - not wanting to share! I planted a few more seeds a couple of weeks ago as the lower part of the vines is already dying off. 
 I am also picking snow peas,  and the cherry tomatoes should start ripening soon - we have some green ones on the bushes.
This year  the tomatoes are slow to ripen, and I have lost a few bushes to wilt, the older gardeners in this area say it is only worth growing the cherry tomatoes - guess I should listen to the old timers. Even in a pot with sterile coir they don't thrive.  I have cabbage tokyo bekana, Kailaan and bok choy and have had a few stir fries of all those leaves mixed up with onion and garlic.  Very tasty!
The zucchini did not do too  well- it often does not in this tropical climate.  It got downy mildew and then every zucchini that formed got slimy, so out both plants came -  and they left a little space :)  I had a few tiny red lettuce seedlings I had started from seed, so in they went - nicely tucked in with some new sugar cane mulch. I am sowing lettuce seeds more often and then picking off the leaves as soon as they are big enough to eat.  Lovely flavor and they don't tend to bolt if picked early and often.
The first crop of carrots was sown in March, so 70 days is just about now, I don't normally think about how long veggies take to mature, but with trialling these seeds I have tried to be a  little more attentive. I picked a few, and yes they are purple, but are still quite tiny. I think most of my veggies seem a little slower than they state on the pkg - has anyone else noticed this?  I am thinking harvest date might be a good date to add to my little marking sticks.
I also built a little teepee so that I could plant more snow peas, they are my favourite vegetable, and I want a continuous crop, since it is a short season.
I have lots of variety this year, and in part this is due to the lovely seeds that I got from MrFothergills - I heard they are getting ready to send me more - great!  I feel this year I am actually beginning to get more of a feel for what to grow and how much.   I have a little extra to share with neighbours, and with continuous sowing and a large variety I am able to add something homegrown to most meals.  I want to make sure to save some heirloom seeds that have adapted to my particular little micro-climate.
 I feel that at last I am developing favorites, and some sort of system.
1. Plant seeds direct where they are to grow.
2. Continuous sowing.
3. Try small amounts of different variety.
4. If there is an empty area, stick some seeds in there!
5. Mulch well with sugar cane mulch.
 Do you feel that the more you garden in your particular area the more comfortable you become with what you are growing?  Do you branch out and try something new each year?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Making flower tea and Urban farm challenge June

I have plenty of juicy rosella fruits on my bush out in the back.  The thing is that I don't want to make jam.  That seems to be all anyone ever does with rosellas... I once bought a jar of the whole fruits preserves in syrup and those in the bottom of a glass of champagne were rather yummy.

I was in fact thinking of something a bit healthier, so I picked a few flowers (actually they are the calyx), removed the seed pod and set them into a slow oven (wish I had a dehydrator)  until crispy.  I haven't had much success in the past with making herbal teas. They often taste like little bits of dried grass to me, not very appetizing.

I popped a few dried leaves into some boiling water and left them to infuse - what a lovely color!
The flavor was lovely - and I think if I added a bit of lemongrass and citrus peel it would be even better.  I might even try to roll them up into little parcels that unfurl like a flower opening when placed in hot water.   I can see lots of tea experiments coming up.

I am linking this to the Urban farm challenge  as this month was all about infusions - I enjoyed this challenge and it has got me imagining more teas I can make.  I am glad I tried teas once again as this time it was much more of a success.  Thanks for the challenge to spur me on!  Why don't you go and see what the others in the challenge have been making.?  Have you dried teas?  do you have a de-hydrator? Anyone used a solar de-hydrator?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Slow living June 2012

Linking to 

SLOW LIVING - Month by Month June 2012

 I have been harvesting leafy greens for stir fries, and lettuce leaves and cucumbers for salads.  Also lots of herbs, whenever I need them.  Snow peas and tomatoes should be on the menu soon.  Eggplant are in continual supply.

I also have rosella ready for harvest and don't want to make jam - I understand you can also dry them for tea - has anyone does this?  I just put a few on the counter to dry - do they need to be dried in an oven?

 I saw a recipe a while back for homemade vegetable bouillon and when I opened the vegetable drawer and saw half a wilting fennel bulb and more than half a bunch of celery languishing in the depths I thought I better give it a try.  We try to limit our salt intake so I did not put much salt into it (1TBS instead of 1 cup) and I certainly did not put as much variety in, (onion, garlic, celery, fennel, parsley and sundried tomato) but have found it very useful to have those ingredients already chopped and waiting to be added to soups or stews.  I froze it in flat containers, about one cup, which is perfect for starting soups, but it will break in half quite easily for smaller amounts.  I am thinking of doing the same thing for asian recipes I often do (garlic, ginger, lemongrass, shallots, chillies)  It is really convenient to have these ingredients all chopped and ready to go. 

After getting rid of the extra fridge we are down to one little fridge and a tiny freezer.  Our weekly shop now is much more carefully thought out, and we are spending less. 

That old fridge was using lots of electricity.

I have been trialling some seeds for MrFothergills, and since I have more variety than normal I have little pockets of different varieties and then continually sowing more seeds in the gaps.   I am liking this way of gardening

I made two more silk scarves and when I wore one of them it made me feel really special.  It was actually a scarf I made before and didnt like how it turned out, and I added more colour and pattern to it, and now it is one of my favorites, so I suppose it could also go under re-use and re-cycle.. 

I was awarded a "one lovely blog" award by Kara at practical frog, and this led me to some more wonderful blogs to follow. 

We have had lots of time babysitting the grand-kids this month and it makes us feel younger.  My daughter in law gave me a one hour spa coupon so I will be doubly enhanced.

thank you so much Christine for organizing this - I am really enjoying this bit of reflection every month!


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