September 2011: our tropical garden update

We’ve been growing Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum) for umpteen years, so long that we won’t give them a second look when we visit garden centers – or so we thought. Recently though, we were spellbound by their presence at a nearby garden center that we dropped by early last month.

Chlorophytum comosum 'Variegatum' (Spider Plant, Ribbon Plant) with green leaves and white margins, Sept 6 2011 in our gardenWith outstretched limbs and crying to be adopted were three hanging pots of Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’, the most fabulous and healthiest Spider Plants that we’ve ever seen. So fertile and showing off countless baby spiders on a great number of branched stolons that gracefully arched and swayed like can-can skirts in the gentle breeze. Really had us fascinated and we stood gawked at them, transfixed by their beauty.

Mutual attraction – they wanted us and we definitely wanted them too! Without delay, we excitedly grabbed a pot, choosing the loveliest of the lot, to grace our home. It was dirt cheap – cost us only RM10/= which truly surprised us! And, visualizing the great number of plants that can be propagated from the dancing babies kept us smiling all the way home! :)
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Pritchardia pacifica (Fiji Fan Palm): big, bold and beautiful!

Pritchardia pacifica (Fiji Fan Palm, Pacific Fan Palm)

Pritchardia pacifica (Fiji Fan Palm, Pacific Fan Palm), seen near Hospital Pantai Ampang, KL - Sept 20 2011Big, bold and beautiful, Pritchardia pacifica will surely make an imposing and striking specimen in any garden or landscape. A handsome solitary palm tree that features enormous fronds in almost perfect fan formation in shades of bright green to lime green. It is well sought after by tropical palm enthusiasts and landscapers for its stunning ornamental beauty.

When we first chanced upon this beauty, it was in full bloom and truly caught our attention. A show-off with its chest of treasures, wide-open for all to see and admire!

Unlike most tropical palms with long-stalked inflorescences that droop downwards, the Fiji Fan Palm has its gorgeous flower clusters on short stalks that are somewhat upright and prominently displayed among the leafstalks. It appears to be a free-flowering palm that blooms profusely in continuous succession, as seen in the images below where all the blooming, fruiting and spent stages are displayed at the same time. Simply lovely, as captivating as its eye-catching fan-shaped fronds!
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Brugmansia suaveolens and hybrids, with dramatic floral display

Brugmansia suaveolens (Angel’s Trumpet, Angel-star, Angel’s Tears)

Brugmansia suaveolens (Angel's Trumpet) - a hybrid with coral pink flowers, maybe 'Rhapsody'The exotic Brugmansia suaveolens is a small tree or large evergreen shrub that is cultivated exclusively for its dramatic floral display. A prolific bloomer that may grandly display as many as 100-200 stunningly beautiful flowers at one time under good growing conditions. Simply spectacular… as if presenting rows and rows of chorus line dancers!
The enchanting fragrance of their flowers, especially strong in the cool evenings and nights, is an added attraction!

These stunning tropical flowering shrubs do thrive in our lowlands though rarely seen. Usually, we get to enjoy these beauties in our highlands. We were delighted indeed to have seen them during our recent holiday to Cameron Highlands in Pahang last month.
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Our tropical garden update for August 2011

Hmm… we thought that we’ll run out of garden news eventually since our garden plants were greatly reduced due to health problems (i.e. John’s suffering from lumbar spondylosis that impairs his gardening activities). But it appears there are still leftovers that aren’t willing to be categorized as run-of-the-mill as yet. Some plants just want to be noticed and did their best to get our attention by putting up a show to amaze us!

Epidendrum x obrienianum

Our Epidendrum x obrienianum (Epi, Crucifix Orchid, Reed-stem Epidendrum, Sun/Star Orchid, Poor Man’s Orchid) blooming again after more than 2 yearsLast flowered more than 2 years ago. A year passed, then two and still no show at all. About a dozen new reed-like stems were added over the years and that was about all. Occasionally, the leaves were spotted with disease and had to be trimmed off or sprayed with pesticide, something we dislike doing as I’m allergic to pesticides. We had somewhat given up hope that it’ll ever flower again, threw in the towel and thought of disposing it.

Could it have heard our rumblings and decided to reward us? To our utter surprise, a long flowering spike finally emerged early last month! We were extremely excited, very sure that we’ll be enjoying its lovely blooming presence in our garden for at least two whole months.
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Hemigraphis alternata, a colourful prostrate-creeper

Hemigraphis alternata (Red Flame Ivy, Red Ivy, Cemetary Plant, Metal-leaf)

Hemigraphis alternata (Red Flame Ivy, Red Ivy, Cemetary Plant, Metal-leaf, Purple Waffle Plant), seen at Sg Klah Hot Springs, SungkaiAn attractive and colourful low-creeping herb that’s sure to draw one’s attention, especially mine! I do admit to being a sucker for just about any plant with variegated leaves!

We were somewhat mesmerized when we first sighted those lovely ground-cover plants, less than two years ago at Felda Residence Hot Springs in Sungkai, Perak.

Hemigraphis alternata, seen at Sg Klah Hot Springs #3/5I was amazed at the foliar variegation. A myriad of colourful hues greeted us, where each leaf is artfully designed and appeared different from one another in tones. Mostly metallic grayish-green and randomly stained with purple or reddish-purple on the upper leaf surfaces, and coloured wine-red underneath. Simply marvelous!
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