November 2011 in our tropical garden

Somehow there are always some surprises in our tropical garden every month and November 2011 is no different! That’s the beauty of gardening and enjoying its rewards.

Abelmoschus esculentus (Okra, Lady’s Fingers)

First flower on our 4.5-month old Abelmoschus esculentus (Okra, Lady's Finger, Gumbo)It took about 4.5 months for this beautiful soft yellow Okra flower to emerge for the first time since seeds were sown in late June. Even though the flower smiled for only a day, it was sheer joy to be able to scrutinize its beauty and capture its loveliness on camera and to observe that it took just 3 days to produce the fruit that could have been harvested 3 days later.

First fruit on our 4.5-month old Abelmoschus esculentus (Okra, Lady's Finger, Gumbo)Since one little finger is definitely insufficient to tickle our palate, we allowed the fruit to mature further on the plant and use the seedpod to grow more plants.

Hope to experiment further with the Lady’s Finger since our first crop of 4 plants, appeared not as healthy as desired. Rather disappointing as plants are skinny, stunted and leaves tainted with leaf spots… wonder why?

Propagating Aglaonema Plants

Our potted Aglaonema 'Valentine', a Thai hybrid with pink+green variegation. Shot March 6 2010Aglaonema or popularly known as Chinese Evergreen, being first cultivated in China, is one of the most decorative indoor plant with attractive variegated foliage for homes and offices. With much hybridizing over the many decades, especially in Thailand and Indonesia in Southeast Asia, the newer cultivars are now available in explosive colours with many variations in shades, forms and sizes. One such new hybrid from Thailand is Aglaonema ‘Valentine’ with lovely pink and green random blotches as pictured above.

Aglaonema’s popularity is further enhanced because of its ease of growth, care and propagation. It can be easily propagated by seed, tip or stem cuttings or division.

Our Aglaonema cv. Legacy with attractive pink+green variegated foliage and pinkish white stalks, Oct 15 2011Our potted Aglaonema cv. Legacy another beautiful Thai hybrid, that was purchased in June with four young shoots had become somewhat large for the small 6-inch diameter pot. We could either repot them altogether into a single larger pot or divide and grow them individually to get more plants. We opted for the former choice but took the opportunity to separate one plant from the rest for our propagation project. This is to help beginners who may be clueless on how to go about it.

Clitoria ternatea (Butterfly Pea), a striking and versatile vine!

Clitoria ternatea (Butterfly Pea, Blue Pea Vine, Asian Pigeonwings)

Clitoria ternatea (Butterfly Pea, Blue Pea Vine, Asian Pigeonwings) with deep blue single flowerClitoria ternatea is another of the many captivating twining climbers that are popularly used for covering the fence or train on a trellis, arbor or archway.

A perennial vine that is free flowering all year round, with an abundance of attractive deep blue blossoms dotting its lovely spread of green foliage. They are such a delight to behold!

Striking royal blue flowers of Clitoria ternatea (Butterfly Pea, Blue Pea Vine, Asian Pigeonwings)We can still recall our fascination of its stunning royal blue flowers when we first saw it draped over the fence at one of the nearby residential homes almost a decade ago and how I sweet-talked my better-half into getting some seed pods from the house owner who was unknown to us. I’m truly a sucker for blue-flowered plants.

October 2011 in our tropical garden

Orchids and Celosia
Shopping for orchid plants had never been that quick and easy for us before this! We got some last month, not from the garden nurseries where one would usually procure them but from the church that we usually attend, after the Eucharistic Mass Celebration. Strange, huh?

Beautifully decorated sanctuary at the Church of St Francis of Assisi in Cheras, KajangWell, the Church of St Francis of Assisi in Cheras, Kajang, spent quite a sum to elaborately decorate inside out with beautiful bouquets of cut flowers and potted plants on the occasion of its Parish Feast Day that was celebrated on Sunday, October 9.
Thus, to recoup some of the expenses, the potted plants were sold at cost. The only snag was WYGIWYS (what you get is what you see) and they could only be collected from the closed Church two days later, meaning unwatered and in an enclosed building.

As it was for a good cause, John and I brought home 4 pots of orchids and 4 pots of Celosia argentea, regardless.
Newly purchased orchids for our garden, October 12 2011Celosia argentea (Plumed Cockscomb), October 12 2011

Costus woodsonii (Red Button Ginger) with exotic torpedo-shaped blooms

Costus woodsonii (Red Button Ginger, Scarlet Spiral Flag, Red Cane, Panamanian Candle Ginger, Dwarf French Kiss)

Costus woodsonii (Red Button Ginger, Scarlet Spiral Flag, Red Cane, Panamanian Candle Ginger)This stunning and colourful plant that displays exotic and vibrant red torpedo-shaped inflorescences, rising above a sea of lush green foliage as if ready to be launched into space, is definitely an attention grabber and demands notice.

No wonder Costus woodsonii, is very much favoured as a decorative landscape and garden plant or container specimen. Like the Cheliocostus speciosus, another spectacular plant, it is becoming more and more popular in Malaysia in recent years. It is often planted at home gardens, recreational areas and parks, as well as in containers at entrances to hotels, restaurants and shopping malls.

Costus woodsonii (Red Button Ginger, Scarlet Spiral Flag, Red Cane, Panamanian Candle Ginger)Red Button Ginger, named thus because of its lovely flower head that comes forth as a luscious red button, is one of the robust spiral gingers in the Costus family that has more than 100 species.
It characteristically features leaves that are spirally arranged around the graceful and succulent stems.