February 2013: critters and flowers in our tropical garden

Definitely easier to capture shots of plants/flowers than flying insects and creeping reptiles, right? Flowers are so well-behaved, like inanimate objects for still life painting, unless swayed by the wind. And, one can always choose to photograph them later when the wind subsides.

Not the flying insects though. The fluttering butterflies, bees and others just zoom into your garden, not caring two hoots as long as they got their nectareous drink from your flowers and then disappear without a trace. Mating flies, on a Pandan Leaf, at our backyard gardenChasing after them for a photo shootout can be quite a hassle! Nevertheless, it’s sheer bliss whenever I do succeed!

Sometimes, opportunity knocks and I’ll seize the chance to snap before it quickly disappears, such as these mates who were oblivious of being caught in the act… :D
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Dracaena braunii: better known by its synonym, Dracaena sanderiana

Dracaena braunii (syn. D. sanderiana), commonly named Lucky Bamboo, Ribbon Plant, Ribbon Dracaena, Belgian Evergreen

Dracaena braunii or D. sanderiana (Lucky Bamboo, Ribbon Plant/Dracaena, Belgian Evergreen) at a garden nurseryWhenever the Chinese Lunar New Year approaches, traders far and wide will be laughing all the way to the bank with pockets full from selling these Lucky Bamboo plants. It’s a very profitable trade during the annual festive season as the plants are in great demand and sold like hot cakes because of its traditional significance in Chinese culture.

During such times, Dracaena sanderiana are presented in different attractive shapes and sizes. Varying lengths of stem cuttings are bundled together with golden bands, and creatively twisted, bent, twirled and so forth, making them appealing to potential buyers. Their beauty are further enhanced with red ribbons, bows and beads.

Dracaena braunii or D. sanderiana (Lucky Bamboo, Ribbon Plant/Dracaena, Belgian Evergreen) as table decor at our sitting hallMost buyers grow these plants in water as table ornaments or centerpieces in homes and offices. The larger ones can be placed on the floor as stand-alone specimens or those taller stems with cork-screwed or spiraled tips can be placed in decorative floor vases as a dramatic focal point.

These plants are well-regarded in the Eastern practice of Feng Shui, especially by the Chinese, as a symbol of good luck, hence the common name, Lucky Bamboo, though it is not a bamboo at all and lucky?… that depends on the person’s beliefs and sentiments. Our view is that it’s more of a lucrative marketing strategy by businessmen. Nevertheless, we do find the Lucky Bamboo with its luxuriant and glossy foliage, very charming as table decorations in our home.
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January 2013: an Oleander Hawkmoth dived into our courtyard garden!

It is always a much welcome sight for sore eyes whenever we see familiar faces in our tropical garden. These garden critters come and go. But when one had been missing in action for months or years on end, and suddenly decides to reappear without warning, it’s truly a great joy indeed!

Daphnis nerii (Oleander Hawk-moth) resting on Synogium podophyllum 'Pixie', at our courtyard gardenOne recent happening was around mid-January when an Oleander Hawk-moth sprung a long-awaited surprise visit to our courtyard garden. The first appearance of Oleander Hawk-moth to our garden was more than 4 years ago as chronicled in my earlier post dated December 18, 2008.

Something in our courtyard caught my attention that bright January morning as I descended the stairs after a good night’s sleep. Check it out pronto, I told myself… definitely weird that a clump of whitish roots would grow on the leaf blade!
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2013 Chinese Lunar New Year Greetings

Wishing all who are celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year 2013,
starting from February 10th:

GONG XI FA CHAI…

2013 Chinese New Year Greetings

May your Chinese New Year of the Snake and thereafter
be showered with God’s bountiful blessings
and be filled with…

good health and happiness;
love and laughter;
peace and prosperity;
success and sunshine;
wealth and wisdom.

CHEERS!!
Enjoy and have fun as you celebrate the CNY festive season
with family, relatives and friends.

How to propagate Proiphys amboinensis (Cardwell Lily) by division

Lustrous foliage of our potted Proiphys amboinensis (Cardwell Lily, Northern Christmas Lily)While flipping over the fabulously large and lustrous foliage of our potted Cardwell Lily out of curiosity, I discovered some plantlets growing beneath, hidden from view. How delightful as it gave me the opportunity to do something with them.

You guessed right! …a chance to do a tutorial on how to propagate Proiphys amboinensis (botanical name) by division of young bulbs, especially for new gardeners who’d like to know or those interested.

Proiphys amboinensis (Cardwell Lily, Northern Christmas Lily): young shoots emerged from offsets or bulbletsThe tunicate bulbs of matured Proiphys amboinensis produce offsets easily as a means of multiplying themselves. The offsets or bulblets that develop from buds at the edge of the basal plate of the mother bulb will eventually produce roots and grow as new plants that can be used for propagation.

Cardwell Lily or Northern Christmas Lily as commonly named can be propagated from seeds or by division of bulbs, the latter being the easiest and more reliable method.
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