Count Your Blessings!

With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

Count Your Blessings!
Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
Count Your Life With Smiles And Not The Tears That Roll.
..... Author unknown.

Knowing me, Knowing you..... Aha.....!

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Malaysian Flora USDA Zone 11
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Clerodendrum wallichii - Bridal Veil

This is a plant with fragrant white flowers that blooms around Thanksgiving.

Its common names are: Bridal Veil, Nodding Clerodendrum, Wallich's Glorybower, Nutans Bleeding Heart, Pendant Clerodendrum

In Chinese, 垂茉莉 (chui mo li) meaning hanging jasmine


Would you like to contribute your local name too?


Scientific name: Clerodendrum wallichii
Synonym: Clerodendrum nutans
Family: Lamiaceae (formerly Verbenaceae)
Origin: Malaysia
Photographs taken by Autumn Belle at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama
Grateful thanks to Dr. Francis Ng



The flowers are held in loose panicles, which are pendulous and cascading. Blooming season is from fall to spring, in the months of October to April for temperate zones but for us in Malaysia, I guess it will be whole year round.

I think it also looks like a bridal bouquet. How about you?



The flower petals are ovate, about 1-1.5cm and with a tube about 1 cm long. The stamens and style protude out. The shiny green leaves which are deeply veined, pointed and narrow are about 10-15 cm long.

Just like the Bleeding Heart Vine where red flowers come out of a white sepal heart, these white flowers emerge from red sepal hearts.

The fruiting sepal cup is red, inflated and thickened. Fruits are about 1-1.3 cm in diameter. They look like berries in the centre of red stars. The berries turn from green when young to shiny black when ripe making them a great display item for the Christmas season.

The branches and stems are quite brittle making it easy to snap.
Clerodendrum wallichii is an evergreen perennial shrub that can grow to about 8-10 ft tall.
Plant in partial shade.


My post today is dedicated to Mr Aaron Ang from the southern state of Johor, Malaysia, of Aaron's Gardening blog. Thank you for being the first commenter of my previous post on the Do-Re-Mi flower. This teenage gardener is a fan of carnivorous plants and video games. He makes anime models and papercraft during his free time.


This is my entry for Today's Flowers # 95, a meme which opens every Sunday, 2pm GMT. My grateful thanks to Today's Flowers team members; Luiz Santili Jr, Denise in Virginia, Laerte Pupo and Sandy Carlson. To participate and view other gorgeous flowers around the world, click here.


This is end of May 2010, time for The Hot, the Loud, and the Proud Meme started by Noel of A Plant Fanatic blog. Please follow my link here to participate or view other spectacular shows around the world. Eventhough my flower is white and not red, this striking bridal bouquet is fit for a bride who will be at her most radiant, hot, loud and proud moment on her wedding day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Do-Re-Mi Flower Clerodendrum incisum






Scientific name: Clerodendrum incisum
Common name: Do-Re-Mi Flower, Musical Note Plant, Morning Kiss, Witches Tongue, Macrosiphon
Family: Lamiaceae (formerly Verbenaceae)
Native plant of: Nigeria
Photographs taken by Autumn Belle at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama
Grateful thanks to Dr. Francis Ng of The Secret Garden of 1-Utama.

Which common name is your favourite?

To participate or view other Wordless Wednesday posts, please click here.


My post today is dedicated to Ms Bernie from Queensland, Australia of My Dry Tropics Garden blog. Thank you for being the first commenter of my previous post on the Blue Butterfly Flower. Her latest post is on splendid skywatch pictures.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Blue Butterfly Flower Clerodendrum ugandense


This is a plant with showy sky blue flowers that look very much like butterflies and it also attracts butterflies.

It has many common names:

English :   Blue Glory Bower, Blue Butterfly Flower, Clerodendron, Blue Butterfly Wings, Butterfly Bush, Oxford Bush, Cambridge Bush

Chinese : 紫蝶花 (zi die hua) meaning Purple Butterfly Flower,

Malay : Semak Bunga Kupu-kupu Biru meaning Blue Butterfly Flower Bush


Did I leave out any names?


Scientific name: Rotheca myricoides
Synonym:  Clerodendrum ugandense
Family: Lamiaceae (fomerly Verbenaceae)
Origin: Kenya, Uganda, East Africa
Photographs taken by Autumn Belle at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama



The flowers occur in loose panicles (clusters) as inflorescenses borne at the ends of long, arching branches. Each flower is about 1" (2.5cm) long and composed of 5 lobed petals, of which 4 are pale blue and 1 violet-blue. There are 6 showy stamens made up of 6 long arching pale blue filaments and dark blue anthers. It blooms continuously throughout summer and fall. In the tropics, it blooms the whole year through.  Each flower lasts only a day.



The evergreen leaves are bluish-green, opposite, elliptical and strongly toothed, about 7-10cm long.
I'm sure you can see why the flowers are described as "show-stoppers" and "head-turners".


Grow in moist, well drained soil under full sun to partial shade. It grows vigorously and require little maintenance. Water regularly. Fertilize during growing season. Watch out for aphids attack. Propagation is by softwood cuttings.

This plant is used in landscaping and it is also suitable as container or house plants.


The flowers which are nectar-rich attract a lot of butterflies and carpentar bees, wasps and even the occasional humming birds. They just can't stop loving them.


Clerodendrum ugandense is an upright, open and sprawling shrub that can grow to a height of 10 ft. The branches resemble canes. Some harsh prunning will result in another round of vigorous flowering.

Caution: Handling of plant may cause allergy or skin irritation. Parts are poisonous if ingested. Be careful of bees and wasps which may sting.

Andrea of Andrea In This Lifetime blog is posting a red, medicinal, Clerodendrum intermedium today. Her link is here.

My post today is dedicated to my lovely friend, Ms Radhika, India of Ever Green Tree blog, the first commenter of my Purple Fountain Grass post. She is posting beautiful skylines where "The Hills Beckon".

NOTE:
This post has been updated on 29 Dec 2012 to incorporate the name change from Clerodendrum ugandense to Rotheca myricoides.



This is my entry for Today's Flowers # 94, a meme which opens every Sunday, 2pm GMT. My grateful thanks to Today's Flowers team members; Luiz Santili Jr, Denise in Virginia, Laerte Pupo and Sandy Carlson. To participate and view other gorgeous flowers around the world, click here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Graceful, Sexy and Foxy Purple Fountain Grass for Wordless Wednesday







Scientific name: Pennisetum setaceum advena
Common name: 'Rubrum' Purple Fountain Grass
Family: Poaceae
Native plant of : North Africa and Asia
Photographs taken by Autumn Belle at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama
Grateful thanks to Dr. Francis Ng of The Secret Garden of 1-Utama.
To participate or view other Wordless Wednesday posts, please click here.

My post today is dedicated to Ms Lona Dawn from Ohio, USA of a Hocking Hills Garden blog. Thank you for being the first commenter of my previous post on the May 2010 GBBD. She is posting gorgeous flowers in shades of purple this week.

This is also my entry for Fertilizer Friday, May 21st. To participate and view other entries around the world, do visit Tootsie at Tootsie Time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 2010 GBBD - And The Rain My Drink

Do they look like Lady's Slippers or Wishbones?

Recently all my Torenias disappeared from my garden, having died back. I think it will reappear again somewhere and sometime later. But I miss them a lot, so I went to the nursery and bought some of these pink ones.

The name Torenia fournieri was given by Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy after a contemporary Swedish clergyman, Olaf Toren and also in honour of the French botanist Pierre Fournier.


The heart-shaped petals look like love,love,love.....

This is my Blue Daze (Evolvulus glomeratus) which I purchased from a nursery managed by a very old man who could hardly walk. He show me where his 'special offer' plants were by pointing fingers while sitting down on a shady bench. They were some helpers around but surprisingly these workers only tended to the plants. They were quite oblivious to his orders and they also ignored customers' queries. So I pitied him and took what I wanted to his bench to ask and bargain prices with him. I felt really dizzy because he smelt strongly of counterpain ointment! Howerver, it was a good buy. The prices were cheap and plants healthy.


This is my Hippy Lily (Hippeastrum reticulatum) which is commonly grown in tropical lowlands. They are quite easy to grow and they flower the whole year through.


The petals are heart-shaped in many photos. Can you see the yellow 'peace' signs around the centre?

This zinnia is grown from seed sold in packets at the garden centres. This time, all the seeds in the packet germinated but I am left with only a single mature plant - The Lone Ranger. I hope it will self seed. A packet of seeds cost about RM 3-5. A seedling sold in poly plastic bags costs almost the same price. I have a better chance with seedlings than seeds. The performance of seeds are unpredicatble and fluctuate between 0 - 100 %.

Now, with such a wide range of fluctuations, how to trust the seeds from packets?

Bye, bye love.....

A few weeks ago, I was so hard up for new plants, I went to the nursery nearest to my home and ended up with a few purchases. The sad part was that 2 plants was sick and died but before dying they infected my peace lilies. All of them suddenly died when their head was 'decapitated' and rotted off by some white powdery stuff that looked like fungus. It had just started to bloom when they said Adieu, so I said "Sayonara, rest in peace!" and I was left to pick up the pieces.


When I purchased this cat whiskers from the nursery a few years ago, the flowers were pale purple. Now all the flowers are white. I wonder what magic did I do?


This citrus plant was purchased during this Chinese New Year. The overflowing golden fruits have dropped off. It is blooming for the second time now. Usually, I'll wait 2-3 rounds before I harvest the fruits for eating or cooking. I'm worried the growers had applied a lot of chemicals to the plant during the forced blooming season.

The one that wouldn't die.

When I purchase my new citrus plant, I wanted to dispose off this old plant that I had been growing for 3 years as it seemed old and dying. I also needed the flower pot. But it was stucked inside the pot. I pulled and I pulled but it wouldn't come out. Finally I succceeded. I chopped off its head. I even stepped and jumped on it a few times to to loosen the soil and roots. The root ball was very hard, so I left it at the 'sick bay' (a shady area at my side yard, under the bamboo tree) with no food and water for a few weeks to meet it's own death.

Euthanasia -Resuscitation - Resurrection?

Strangely it didn't die because one day I noticed healthy green shoots coming out and growing sideways. This plant is a fighter. So I took it back again to its rightful place in the garden.


Blastoise is getting into mischief again and I caught him in action, haha!


The rest of my blooming flowers. I'm sure you know all their names. Do you know which is which?
  • A fruit - Pomegranate flowers
  • Edible flower grown for its natural blue food colouring - Blue Butterfly Pea
  • Our local common name is Paper Flowers - Bougainvellea
  • Bachelor's button - Gomphrena
  • We can suck sweet nectar from its flowers - Ixora
My post today is dedicated to my lovely friend, Dr. Andrea, from the Philippines of Andrea In This Lifetime blog, the first commenter of my Kapok Tree post. Maraming salamat po for being my friend!

Today is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Now, do head over to May Dreams Gardens to see what's blooming round the world today.


This is my entry for Today's Flowers # 93, a meme which opens every Sunday, 2pm GMT. My grateful thanks to Today's Flowers team members; Luiz Santili Jr, Denise in Virginia, Laerte Pupo and Sandy Carlson. To participate and view other gorgeous flowers around the world, click here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ceiba pentandra, The Kapok Tree


Kapok tree in SPPK, Ipoh

Ceiba pentandra is a tropical rainforest tree that is native to Mexico, Central America and tropical west Africa. The kapok trees that occur naturally in South America are known as the "Giants of the Amazon Rainforest". They are huge trees that can rise up to 200 ft (70m) tall, towering above the canopy of the tropical rainforest. It has a substantial trunk with thorny bark and buttress roots. In Mayan mythology, the Ceiba tree is sacred, connecting the Universe, Heaven, Earth and Hell. It is believed that the souls of the dead would climb up into the branches which reach into heaven.

Today, I'm going to write about our version of the Kapok tree which is commonly found in the rural areas and villages all over South East Asia. It is a small to medium size tree with smooth bark. It is in a cultivated form which probably came from Africa and introduced to Asia more than 10 centuries ago.


Scientific name: Ceiba pentandra
Common name: The Silk Cotton Tree, Java cotton, Java kapok
Family: Malvaceae (previously Bombacaceae)
Native plant of : South America and Africa

My article about this tree appeared in the New Straits Times Press on June 5th, 2010:
A Useful Tree


“Ceiba pentandra, The Kapok Tree”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ http://www.mynicegarden.com/ on May 6th, 2010

Kapok tree near the front entrance gates of KTAR, Setapak, KL

Kapok trees bloom periodically. The flowers are said to produce an unpleasant odour that attract bats in the evenings. The bats feast on the nectar and help to pollinate the flowers.

The ripe fruit pods which are woody will burst open while still on the tree. They look like overflowing bags of cotton hanging from the tree.

This deciduous tree may shed all of its leaves during a dry season.

The pods are woody, smooth and pendulous with a light green colour that changes to brown when ripe. Adult trees produce a few hundred seed pods. Each pod is about 15cm (6 in) long.


The pods are quite hard when ripe. Inside these pods are the fluffy, silky and yellowish cottony fibres that enable the seeds to float away on air, thereby dispersing them to faraway places.

The brown seeds are round like peas. Some locals say the seeds look like goat droppings. Each fruit contains about 200 seeds.

The fibre is light, very bouyant, resilient and resistant to water. It is difficult to spin, unlike cotton which can be spun into yarns and threads for the textile industry. The process of harvesting and separating the fibre is labour intensive and done manually. The tree itself is not cut down during harvesting, only the seed pods are removed and the fiber within extracted.

Villages use a long pole to reach for those pods that had cracked open. The fibres are collected and stored in gunny sacks. The seeds are sorted out by hand.

We use the fibre as stuffings in pillows, bolsters, mattresses, upholstery and stuff toys. The locals call this fibre, "Kekabu". I think kekabu make great bedding materials. Unlike other materials, kekabu pillows and mattress are cool and therapeutic. It bends according to your body shape. For a kid, it is like being your mom's embrace. Sleeping on it is like enjoying a spa.


My Story:
When I was little I used to have this 'smelly pillow' that I was very fond of. I would carry it around everywhere I went. It was soft, good to touch and hug, and cool to sleep on. It even had a familiar, soothing scent which made sleep so very easy and comfortable. There was no need for any bedtime stories. What was so special about this pillow was that it was made by mom. She would buy the kekabu from the village folks who owned the tree, patiently separate the seeds and stuff the kekabu into the pillow cases which she sewed using a Singer sewing machine (a marriage gift from my grandparents). To prevent the fibres from getting into her hair and nose, she wore a head scarf and hankerchief as face mask. It is important that the hands are not wet when handling the kekabu, otherwise it will stick all over the place which makes it difficult to manage. After the pillows had been stuffed, mom will handstitch to close up the small opening.

We never wash these pillows because it could not be washed. But we changed the pillow cases. Periodically, we would hang them out under the sun and beat them with a stick to remove any ticks and mites. The hot equatorial sun will kill all the germs with its solar power. It can last for many years, 10 years or more. If the cloth was too old and torn, we made a new cover and transferred the stuffing.

When I got married and started to have kids of my own, mom would go back to our village to search for the kekabu sellers to get enough stock to make a whole set of baby pillows, bolsters and a baby cot mattress for each of my kid. She said, the kekabu bed sets are cool to sleep on and if baby has a restful sleep, the adults will get a good rest too. During those times, I didn't really value her efforts much, so I dispose off the old pillows and mattresses when it got old. I replaced them with newer versions like polyester, foam, latex, feathers, microbeads, cotton or whatever that was new and popular. Somehow, all these materials could never take the place of the kekabu pillows that mom used to make.

Now I live to regret my actions and wish that I hadn't thrown them away. The only consolation is that my boy had the last set. He is very fond of it and will never leave home without it. I'll make sure this set will be preserved for as long as possible.

The kekabu industry is a home cottage industry in Malaysia. There are still people making kekabu bed sets by hand and selling it for an income to support their families. I think this is an example of how we can live in harmony with nature. They don't cut the trees, but only harvest the fibres from the pods. The trees help to support a family. The fibres which would otherwise be blown off and wasted are used to make bedding materials that lasts a lifetime with beautiful memories to add on.

My post today is dedicated to Euroangel, a Filipino Expat in Europe of My Euro Travel and Adventure blog. Thank you for being the first commenter of my previous post on the King's Crown. Her blog is about travel in Europe.

 

Finally, I'd like to wish everyone,

"Happy Mother's Day!"

Post Publication Update:

After searching for some time, finally I am so happy to have found this gutsy lady from Ipoh who sews and sells the Kekabu bedding sets for a living. She works hard for the money and depends on this meagre income to support her children through secondary school and university. I bought 2 pillows with purple covers from her. If you wish to buy kekabu pillows, etc. please email me for her contact details. To protect their privacy, I am not publishing their personal details here.  

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

King's Crown - Wordless Wednesday






Scientific name: Justica carnea
Common name: King's Crown, Brazilian Plume Flower, Flamingo Flower, Jacobinia
Family: Acanthaceae
Native plant of : South America
Photographs taken by Autumn Belle at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama
Grateful thanks to Dr. Francis Ng of The Secret Garden of 1-Utama.
To participate or view other Wordless Wednesday posts, please click here.

My post today is dedicated to Bernie from North-eastern Australia of My Dry Tropics Garden blog. Thank you for being the first commenter of my previous post on the Powder-puff Girls. Her blog is about the drought, heat and sun tolerant plants that she grows in her dry, tropics garden in the bushland of north-eastern Australia.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Samanea saman and The Powderpuff Girls


Recently, I have already posted 2 flowering plants sharing the same common name of "Powder-puff". So, today I shall introduce Samanea, and later I will parade all 3. Please help me select the Beauty Queen.

Scientific name: Samanea saman
Synonym: Albizia saman, Enterolobium saman
Common name: False Powder-puff, Monkey Pod, Raintree
Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae - pea/legume family)
Origin: Tropical America from Mexico to Brazil 

This picture was taken near the market at SPPK, Ipoh.

This is "BLOSSOM", the pink powder-puff plant. This False Powder Puff  is a big tree about 10 - 30 m tall. It bears pale pink to pink inflorescent flowers the whole year through and enjoys the full sun. Propagation is by seeds or bud grafting. Here in the tropics, we grow it as a big shade tree due to its umbrella shaped crown.

The name "rain tree" was coined in tropical India, especially Bengal. Its origin is the moisture that collects on the ground under the tree, largely the honeydew-like discharge of cicadas feeding on the leaves. (Source: Wikipedia)


Here's BUBBLES (a shrub or small tree) from Africa.

Scientific name: Combretum constrictum
Common name: Thailand Powderpuff
Family: Combretaceae
Origin: Tropical Africa

Here we have, BUTTERCUP ( a shrub or small tree) from Australia.

Scientif name: Xanthostemon youngii
Common name: Crimson Penda
Family: Myrtaceae
Origin: Australia

They look like powder-puffs but actually they are 3 different species from 3 different families.

Now, which one is your favourite and which one do you have in your place?

My post today is dedicated to Bernie from North-eastern Australia of My Dry Tropics Garden blog. Thank you for being the first commenter of my previous post on the Combretum constrictum. She also has a powder-puff plant in her garden.



I am extremely delighted to be Guest Friend for Today's Flowers # 91, a meme which opens every Sunday, 2pm GMT. My grateful thanks to Today's Flowers team members; Luiz Santili Jr, Denise in Virginia, Laerte Pupo and Sandy Carlson. To participate and view other gorgeous flowers around the world, click here.

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