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.....!

Notice Board

Malaysian Flora USDA Zone 11
Welcome to our exotic world of everlasting summers and tropical rainforests!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Merdeka - Independence Day

On August 31st, Malaysians will be celebrating our 52nd Hari Merdeka or Independence Day. I shall dedicate this post to our National Day.

Picture courtesy of

The Malaysian Flag is also known as Jalur Gemilang, meaning stripes of glory.

This 'supermodel' comes from my garden.

As the Bunga Raya (Rosa Sinensis), can be found abundantly everywhere in Malaysia, our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman declared it our national flower in 1960. The five petals of bunga raya symbolise the Rukunegara, our 5 Principles of Nationhood.

This year, the theme is 1Malaysia - People First, Performance Now . Our current Prime Minister wishes to unite all races to live harmoniously with mutual respect and work together towards national interest.

This year's Merdeka Day celebrations will be scaled down due to two reasons.
1) It falls on the muslim fasting month of Ramadhan
2) H1N1 pandemic

We are therefore encouraged to fly/display our Malaysian Flag instead.

During this season, the flags are everywhere; at the roundabout and traffic junction, under the flyover. Also hanging from tree trunks, lamp poles, flag poles, from window ledges, taxis, public transport vehicles and passenger cars. Also, shops, offices, temples, churches, mosques and homes. Yes, on rooftops too!

At shopping complexes, we have the month long Merdeka Sales and more displays of Malaysian flags everywhere. To bargain hunter tourists, this is the best time to visit our country for shopping. Prices are slashed down to 50%, 60 or 70%! Now is the time to buy, buy, buy. We locals can also shop in advance for Hari Raya, Deepavali, Christmas and New Year. There is cost savings in the long run. Trust me.

At schools, school children group together and have fun decorating their classrooms and compound with more flags. The spirit of patriotism is alive here. Are there any contests for 'guest the number of flags' here?

At government offices like this Fire Brigade, creativity is put to good use. Can you spot how many flags are there in this picture? You must observe carefully, look at the passing car too.

This is the parking lot of Tesco Hypermarket. From left to right, the 4 flags represent Malaysia country, Selangor state, Tesco store and Sime Darby group.

Tesco wishes everyone Happy Independence Day.

My own experience:
Since I was little, Independence Day was spent at home watching the National Day Parade on live telecast from TV. I remember my elementary school teacher's advice to value our freedom which was hard to attain in the first place and also to value and exercise our right to vote whenever there is a chance to decide the future leaders of this democratic country.
It is also a day when we remember the soldiers who have sacrificed their life and family in defending our beloved country.
The most patriotic and touching feeling I get is the moment when our own athlethe wins an international or world event, stands on the podium and everyone around salute to our nation when the national anthem, the Negaraku is played as the flag is being raised.
What about yours?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - A Hibiscus Beauty Pagent

Wordless Wednesday is a great idea from Uisce. To view other WW posts or to participate, click here.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Ixora, from the family rubiaceae, is an evergreen, woody shrub native to the tropical Asia. Flowers bloom all year round. Other names include Flame of the Woods, Jungle Flame, Jungle Geranium and West Indian Jasmine. In malay, we call it the bunga siantan, pokok pecah perium or jarum-jarum (meaning many needles).

I do think that these tiny flowers look like needles, especially the flower buds. Guess what, when I was little, my friends would pluck out these flowers one by one, pull out the stigma and style, and then suck at the centre of the flower. The nectar juice tasted sweet. To be honest with you, I did mimic them and liked the taste too. Maybe you'd think that I am crazy but it is true. Come to think of it, we do learn a lot from our childhood friends, don't we?

Ixora is widely grown as a hedge which can be from 5 to 10ft tall. It is also planted in containers as ornamental plants. We also have the dwarf version where the flowers are smaller. Prunning helps to shape the plant and promote more flowers.

The ixora loves full sun and acidic soil. This is one hardy plant that will not die so easily. It can withstand poor treatment and need minimal care. This is what the nursery owner recommended to me when I first asked his advice on which plant to buy. I said I wanted a plant that required minimum care and no need to water everyday.

This potted ixora coccinea is blooming very well. I found this 'model' at a golf club.

This is a picture of my ancient looking ixora plant. Actually, if you look closely, you will see that the stems are very old and crocket/rugged. It had provided food and a nice home to many generations of hairy caterpillars that has since gone on to become beautiful butterflies. I guess it has so many leaves that even the caterpillars cannot finish off!

Today, my 3 potted ixora plants are still around after more than 10 years. They even followed me when I moved to a new house. I call them my Fu (Good Fortune), Lu (Prosperity), Shou (Longevity), just like the Fu-Lu-Shou deities commonly used in Chinese culture to symbolize the 3 attributes of good life.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Allamandas are native to South and Central America but they have become naturalised througout the tropics. You can either find them as a woody evergreens or vines. The flowers are large and bright and blooms all year round. Allamanda is named after Dr. Frederich Allamanda, an 18th century Swiss botanist.

Also known as Yellow Bell, Golden Trumpet or Buttercup Flowers, it belongs to the Apocynaceae family. Allamandas are planted as shrubs or ornamental house plants. They are sun loving plants that require adequate watering.

Scientific name: Allamanda cathartica
Family: Apocynaceae
Common names: Yellow Bell, Golden Trumpet
Malay name: Bunga Akar Kuning, Akar Chempaka Hutan
I found this allamanda cathartica plant with unusually large flowers at a restaurant in Ipoh where I was having dinner. I think the flowers are twice as large as the normal ones that I see around here. The leaves are bigger and stems thicker.
I really like this version with the large yellow flowers. I couldn't help taking out my camera to photograph it. The restaurant owner was very happy with all the attention given to her priced possession. She even offered to give me a cutting to bring home to plant! She told me that she didn't buy it from any nursery but it was planted from a cutting from her mom's plant. The plant was blooming well because she had used fertilizer on it. Then she proceeded to pluck a portion of the stem and gave it to me. She seemed to know what she was doing, so I took it home to try to plant it. Actually I was quite sceptical that this will work.

This is the type that I usually see around my neighbourhood. I think it is alamanda nerriflolia. The flowers are more numerous but smaller. This owner has trained the plant to become leggy and allowed to sprawl. A plastic string is used to tie the branches together, around a pole. Sometimes, I even seem some allamanda plants trained to climb lamp posts or around another tree. The bright yellow flowers really make the tree look more beautiful.

When I got home, I soaked the cut stem in a container of water. Surprisingly, it rooted afer 2 days. I didn't even need to use the rooting inducer powder. However, I had to wait a bit longer for the shoots to appear. It is now growing quite slowly so I am keeping my fingers cross at the moment. Hopefully this works.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bees Love Turnera subulata (White Alder)

Common name: White Alder, Sulphur Alder, Politician's Flower, White Buttercup, Dark-eyed Turnera
Botanical name: Tunera subulata
Family: Turneraceae (Yellow Alder family)

Turnera Subulata is a perennial herb, woody at the base and can reach 30-80cm in height. Native to the West Indies, Florida, Brazil and Central America, it has a strong tap root. The flowers are white with a yellow halo around black centres. Leaves are bright green in colour. This species is also found here in South East Asia.

I usually find these plants in sunny places near the roadside, rubbish dumps and outside house compounds. Sometimes it is planted as a bush and used to decorate entrances to homes and properties.

Whenever I see this flower, there will be many bees swarming around it or busy collecting nectar. In fact, these bees are so busy, they didn't even notice me snapping away with my camera.

Look closely at the flower. Can you see a cat's tongue? In Malay it is known as 'bunga lidah kuching' meaning cat's tongue. Another name for it is 'bunga pukul lapan' (8 O'clock flower). The flowers open around 8 am in the morning and there are so many blooms, it can brighten up any area. By 11am - noon, all the flowers would have withered away. Such a short life span but contribute so much. No wonder the bees are so busy in the mornings. Like the saying "As busy as a bee".

They love the sun and grow well in sandy soil.

This tunera bush at the riverbank next to a bridge, has an abundance of flowers.
There are many bees here. Strangely, I don't hear the buzzing sound.
The bees are deeply engrossed in their nectar collecting tasks.
The picture is taken at the park near my home.

This is a welcome sight. Quite often, I have come accross gardens that have no signs of wildlife. These gardens have bright and beautiful flowers, but no bees, no butterflies and no scent. Is this a sign of heavy pesticide usage?

Bees are often associated with honey, pollen, royal jelly and their painful sting. Bees are also important as crop pollinators. Can you imagine a world without bees? How then can I get to eat my cucumbers, tomatoes, beans and carrots?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Orchids at Floria 2009 (Final Part)

Wordless Wednesday
Can you guess their names? - Updated.

1 - Mokara

2 - Renanthera

3 - Phalaenopsis in pink, white and yellow

4 - Phalaenopsis pink

5 - Phalaenopsis yellow

6 - Cattleya BLC Haadyai Delight
* Name identification thanks to Orchid de dangau

7 - Vanda Coerulea

8 - Dendrobium burana green

9 - Orchid Landscape

Now, the orchids has been named. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Celebration of Colours at Floria 2009 (Part 2)

Colours as I see it.
Orange - Yellow Chrysanthemums.
This is for the sunshine in my life.
Click on the photo and you shall see a beautiful butterfly.
See what I mean?

Lavender - Fragrances, scents and things that I love.

Yellow is for warmth and friendship.

Green is for peace, nature and the environment.

Red is for happiness and good luck.

Pink - I see affection and kindness.

Peach is for longevity and immortality.


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