Thursday, October 27, 2011

Autumn at the World's Other Side

I noticed that most of the garden bloggers are from the temperate climates. Did you observe that? That is advantageous for me, as I see the plants, flowers and gardens uncommon in our tropical conditions. I have always been telling everyone that in Southeast Asia and maybe the Caribbean and those around the equator, we only have two seasons, the dry and the wet. I wonder how most of you from the temperate and sub-temperate regions would feel if you have our conditions. Will you be glad that your garden will not experience winter? Will you be glad you will not be making lots of mitigation such as shade houses or putting your plants inside when the cold strikes? And most of all, the plants are mostly green and  continuously flowering  throughout the year. Colors are everywhere! And you can leave your garden just by themselves and go to the beach, enjoy the sun and the open skies.  

The disadvantage is the deprivation of autumn colors, can you live with that? And of course you will not be able to shovel the snow, and there will be no snowman. 

I showed this 2 ft long leaf (Artocarpus spp) as a representation of autumn color. It is the extent of its color before turning brown and totally dry. However, only few leaves exhibit this transformation, most just become brown, fall and decay.  It is a continuous process as a result of their age throughout growth and development. And this drying and fall does not happen en masse just like in your Fall/Autumn.

This periwinkle, Catharanthus roseus, flowers all year and is one of the most tolerant of our long dry season. Ours just died because the  leaves were all eaten by the sphinx moth larvae. Somehow, it doesn't produce shoots again if all leaves are devoured by larvae. It is cross pollinated so we get other hybrid colors in the next generation.

Lantana camara, also a perennial plant, rain or shine it will not leave you.

This one, Asystasia gangetica, is prolific during the wet season but difficult to withstand the dry if not watered properly.
Turnera subulata, is also prolific because it produces lots of small seed pods which just germinate anywhere. It can also withstand dry season well. But look what happened when there is continuous rain.

These flowers are the result of just a half day continuous rain. The other species which is more yellow and thicker petals, Turnera ulmiflora, is more tolerant of continuous rain. However, because it continuously produce flower buds, the next batch of flowers are ready again the next day. 

Celosia argentea or cockscomb

Above and below: Celosia argentea 'plumosa' species 


Alternanthera ficoidea

an orchid which flowers the whole year, Epidendrum radicans, but i know it, LOL


The thornless-scentless rose.  It just tell us that if we want to smell the roses, we must endure its thorns. This reminds me of Antoine de Saint Exupere "we must be patient with the caterpillars, if we want to be acquainted with the butterflies".

This one looks like a weed, but its color is lovely. I also don't know its name. Thanks for Sunita in supplying its identity as Brazilian button flower or Centratherum intermedium. 

Note: We still have a lot of colors now, but the photos might be too heavy in one post! 


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Monday, October 24, 2011

Tropical Grasses

It was raining that night when I was home in our farm one weekend. Upon waking up I went out to see anything which might be attractive for the camera. It is always very refreshing outside the house after the rain,  feels so relaxing and comforting than in the big city, where air pollution makes so much difference.

The grasses are in their flowering stage now. In one or two months, these will mature and seeds will be dispersed by the winds. All photos here are from the wild and not from the garden.

Imperata cylindrica or cogon in the vernacular. This is not flowering yet but in summer months or dry season 


I love this but I don't know its name



Saccharum spontaneum or talahib in vernacular. The white flowers are borne on long slender stalks.

The fruiting structures above stick to clothes that touch it to ensure dispersal.

Napier grasses for feeds of cattle and horses 

Amorseko or love grass in Mt Gulugod Baboy

Mt Gulugod Baboy (Pig Spine), Mabini, Batangas

Our World Tuesday Graphic

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My night visitors and more

Sometimes at night I get uninvited visitors at the  5th Floor. Being uninvited, they are usually defensive, scared   or uncooperative. They give me a hard time just to take their photos.

This one arrived elegantly dressed in a lovely gown, maybe it thought the party is in my room because of the bright light. Or maybe her partner did not fetch her and she doesn't know the way. Oh my heart goes with her for being lost. I tried to let her find her way outside the window, but in her distress she remained with me through the night. I still found her in my room the following morning, when she finally obeyed my suggestions to move on.

This is a night butterfly because its antennae is not like a comb and it came to me at night. I thought maybe this is the partner of the first photo because they somehow look the same and might be from the same race. Unfortunately, they came to my kingdom at different nights and they did not meet. When i summoned him to follow the lady who went ahead, it did not hesitate to heed my advice. Hopefully they meet somewhere, and  live happily ever after!

My constant visitor at night. I love its color, although the design of its dress looks unconventional, with scattered smudges. The objects are not even given with distinct margins. Look at the stance on the left, it has long front legs to prop it like a biplane. It believes it shares with me the space I am in. Maybe it even thinks I am the squatter in my room. It freely flies when it wants and explore all the areas in my space. It feels so at home already, leaves for sometime and come back even if i still don't miss it. Or it might have been missing me it doesn't want anymore to leave.

The above visitors are lovely to the naked eyes. They have beautiful gowns too, however, i don't know anyone of them. That green entity at the bottom don't show its antennae, so i can't discern if it is a butterfly or a moth. What i know about them is that they are all night party creatures, nocturnal entities.

This soldier arrived in full battle gear, with its armor shield full and very well made. Its shield is thick and difficult to penetrate. It was so fierce and jittery that a slight tap on its back make it show its full pangs. Its arms and legs are always ready for battle. It even produced a unique sound when the armor hits the tiled floor. I was able to put it on its back and it banged so loudly, i almost accepted loss. When i finally can't do anything with him,  I made my last move. I tossed him out of the window!  I hope his shield was able to protect him against the impact. Anyway, i made sure he will land on the branches of a tree.

This animal somehow looks like a mammal complete with a tail and ears, maybe a ruminant, but somehow it has the antenna of an insect. I hope nobody will mistakenly think that this creature is a genetically modified organism or GMO.  This incident happened at daytime.

I placed these peas in a basin. I asked my nephew, Allen, to open each of the pea pods, get the young beans to be mixed with other vegetables in a local stew recipe. When it's time to put the beans in the stew, Allen is nowhere to be found, and this is what I saw on the floor!  I have nobody to reprimand, so i just smiled and did the task myself.

Camera Critters

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Evolution in the Banaue Rice Terraces

Donna of Garden Walk Garden Talk has titillated our minds for some calisthenics. I have joined starting from Illumination, then Repose, and now Evolution. Every time I decide to join, I always start with nothing, nothing in mind, then when a photo from a file come in, a lot of photos follow. I would say Donna is very successful in bringing us to this, because in my case even if the post is already linked in, I still find some photos that i still want to add. Sometimes i even want to tell Donna to repeat the word. But of course that is already boring for most. Suffice it to say that the words organized some photos in my mind to find some new meanings in them. I look at my photos with more enthusiasm, more utility.

Evolution - somehow the vision of an ape always comes to my mind's eye. Then i wish it will not be mistaken to equate evolution with growth and development. So how will i try to interpret it. Or maybe a Before and After will do! Is that evolution enough? Oh no that can't be. Evolution has always been associated with the change in species over time, with the previous species becoming extinct. Evolution is synonymous with change in a long time, mutation, advancement in change....and who will forget Darwin! Survival of the fittest helps evolution! What else, what will I post? This looks more difficult than Illumination or Repose!

This post is about the Evolution of Use!

This is the Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao Province, Philippines. This 2000 years old structure is a part of the country's National Cultural Treasure.  It is approximately 1500 meters (5000ft) above sea level covering about 10,360 sq km (about 4000 sq miles) of mountainside. An ancient irrigation system from the rainforests provide water to the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end, it would encircle half the globe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banaue_Rice_Terraces). The other Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras are Batad, Bangaan, Hungduan, Mayoyao Central and Nagacadan. 

Stairs are the model of the rice terraces, above is the modern cemented stairs. It is at the bottom right portion in the first photo as an access point to the already modern house near the terraces (with red roof). A stair is a very old concept, yet its uses and functions evolved with the above two photos.
The photo above is the traditional structure of the Ifugao indigenous peoples' house, called an "ulug". It is made of materials found in the mountains, normally very low with the roof reaching the bottom to probably conserve the heat. Subtropical conditions prevail in these areas.

A variant of the previous Ifugao house is shown above with the roof a bit receding to expose the house body. Thick timber are used both as posts and walls. The only opening is the door, it is a windowless house! The access bamboo stairs is removed at night and hung inside for safety.

The more modern 'ulug' has shorter posts, wooden and wider stairs, with cemented portion as toilet and bath, and a ledge was provided on the wall side serving as storage areas. Hot water is also available direct from the tap faucet.

The 'ulug' now evolved as the main feature and accommodation facilities in Resorts and vacation areas, just like in the Banaue Ethnic Village. The resort also provide ethnic dance presentations and traditional food preparation and cooking, if the guests desire.

An outhouse wash basin (bottom photo) is provided for easy access and function.


I just tried to show you the evolution of the Ifugao indigenous people's houses, in terms of structure and use. The modern Ifugao people do not build these structures anymore, but still use them for storage purposes. 

In our recent Backpack Photography  trip to the area, we were so thrilled to sleep in these houses, savoring the cold temperatures in the highlands, at that time was 6C at night and 15C at daytime. We were also very privileged to be inside the forest deep in the mountains, with very clean unpolluted air, fresh from the oxygen generators; and the only noise we hear are our laughter mingling with the birds tweets. It was really "far from the madding crowd". 


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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Perennial Presence


In our tropical climate all the following plants are perennials. They are prolific in flowering during the rainy season, just lessen during the dry season, however, they are still there manifesting their presence. They flower more beautifully if pruned before the rainy months, but I have not been consistent with that. My pruning job depends on my availability, most of the time they are just left on their own. 

I am quite fascinated with my Duranta erecta  when it produces such long stems full of flowers. It is also much favored by butterflies, bumble bees, and honey bees. Pruning the spent stems allow more branches to produce more flowers like in the photos.




The red Pentas lanceolata is the lone survivor of the long dry season last year. I lost the lavender, pinkish-lavender and white plants.  Cutting spent flower stalks and not allowing the seeds to develop retain the young look to produce more and bigger flower umbels. 




This Caesalpinia pulcherrima has been with us for more than twenty years. They just suffer during the dry season, but still recover after the heavy rains. It never fails to produce such wonderful blooms in the rainy season. It also feeds the larvae of the small yellow butterflies.


 This marigold came from the US, from the generous spirit of Skeeter. She is the partner of Tina of In the Garden. From the many packets she sent me two years ago, this is the lone survivor. This is the 2nd generation of those seeds. I am keeping the seeds for other generations to come. I grow them in partially shaed area.



Dark orange Lantana camara is not very common in garden nurseries. Besides, i haven't seen tree lantana for sale here,  only the bushy or creeping types. But i got this one from the wild from a far region of the Philippines. I was just lucky to have the stem cuttings recover from the wilting it suffered during transport. Its stems rode 2 planes, and several land transport vehicles before reaching our garden.  


This plant is very common, but i don't know its ID. It can be invasive if planted in very healthy soil and left on its own without trimming. It can be viny if uncontrolled. 


Chrysothemis pulchella is a very easy to propagate plant, even when the cats, dogs and chickens always trample on their stems, they easily produce replacement shoots and eventually flower again. However, they always want available water in the soil and easily affected when it becomes dry. But they easily recover, don't worry.


My favorite Caladium is not as prolific as my other caladiums, but at least this one is spared by the sphinx moth larvae. They did not respect the other caladium colors. They shed leaves during the dry season but their tubers are laid dormant in the soil, so they are perennially present too. Around it are 2 species of Turnera and the white cat's whiskers.

The last five photos are remnants of my orchid collection. Above is a terete Vanda which is very tolerant of our long dry season and hot temperatures, usually above 30 degrees Celsius. Even without water last season coupled with leaves eaten by goat's kids it recovered again. When healthy, it produces longer spikes and more flowers. 

Pteroceras ungiculatum, an endemic orchid species identified by Klaraau. Imagine that, an Australian more knowledgeable of our Philippine orchids! I am trying to take care of this one as it might be an endangered species already (though i am not yet sure), because i have not seen it in other gardens or in orchid shows. I have two plants of this species. 


An Oncidium  already with us for more than twenty years, and it is tolerant also of our very long dry season. This is the only orchid which still produce flowers last dry season even without watering. I was scared then that its flowering might have been an indication that it will leave this world, trying to leave its offspring for good! I am glad it really is a drought tolerant type. It just blooms, come rain, come shine!

Mokara orchids mostly facing the other side because they want to face the morning sun.

Dendrobium orchids need watering during the dry months, but they are able to withstand long dry seasons and flower again when the rains come. You will notice other Dendrobium colors at the back.
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