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
Welcome to our exotic world of everlasting summers and tropical rainforests!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Garden By The Beach

Ever since joining Blotanical and becoming a blotanist blogger, I have begun to view the environment that I live in from a different light. Our world is indeed rich in flora and fauna everywhere. I have discovered a garden in every place that I visit. The beauty of nature has been all around us since time immemorial. We just need to be a little bit more observant in order to appreciate it.

Today, I would like to invite you on a trip to Port Dickson and explore a garden by the beach.

Port Dickson aka PD, is a coastal town located 80 km or about an hour's drive by car from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital city. It is a holiday and leisure destination for tourists as well as locals. PD was founded by Sir Frederick Dickson during the 1880's colonial era as a deep seawater port. When PD failed to live up to its expectations as a busy performing port, it was later developed into a seaside resort, frequented by the British and the local people.

Today, we are visiting The Legend Water Chalets resort and I'll be showing you around the gardens there.

This is a Hymenocallis speciosa or the common Spider Lily. I think it is called the bunga bakung here. It is an amazing plant that is very useful in landscaping. It is a herbaceous perennial that flowers the whole year through. I'm sure many of you have seen this plant before. It has long glossy leaves and pure white flowers. Does it remind you of spidey and perhaps Little Miss Muffet too? The resort here uses this spider lily as a border plant surrounding its signage near the main entrance to the lobby.

The botanical name of this vine with bright yellow flowers is Tristellateia australasiae (Maiden's Jealousy). Its common names include Shower of Gold, Vining Galphimia or Vining Milkweed

It is a vigorous climber. Each flower has 5 petals and red stamens. Leaves are ovate to lance-shaped and has a lush green colour. The flowers bloom in clusters of up to 30 flowers. Native to South East Asia, it is a woody, evergreen vine that flowers the whole year through.

Here, this shower of gold climber is planted on the ground and trained to sprawl beautifully on a trelis next to the wall of this buiding that houses the gym and sports room. Sharing the same space with it, we also have the Sansevieria Trifasciata aka Snake plant aka Mother-in-law's tongue. We also call it the Lidah Jin meaning genie's tongue. Which name do you prefer, the genie's tongue or a mother-in-law's tongue?

Christmas Palm (Adonidia merrilii)

The people working here tells me that this is the Areca nut. Areca nut, also known as the pinang or betel nut is the fruit of the Areca Catechu tree, a species of palms that grows in South Asia and the tropical Pacific.

If it is pinang, then I have a story to tell you. In the old days, slices of the areca nut is wraped in betel leaves and chewed for its mild stimulant effect. Lime and sometimes other spices like clove and cardamon or even a tobacco leaf or two are added to the wrap. This method of chewing blackens the teeth and stains the mouth deep red. The red saliva is spit out and we used to see this red slime staining our roads and floors. Chewing of the areca nut is a tradition that dates back to thousands of years. This ritual used to be pratised widely by the local people but now it is no longer popular among the younger generation.

There is a malay proverb, "bagai pinang dibelah dua" which can be translated to "like an areca nut cut into half". It is used to denote newly weds who are very compatible with each other.

Updated on 28 Oct 2011 - The tree above is Adonidia merrillii, synonym Veitchia merrillii, common name Manila Palm or Chrismas Palm.

Along the path that leads to the beach, you will come across this beautiful Thunbergia Grandiflora, growing vibrantly along the fencing. It is a giant vine with cascading pale lilac flowers and large green leathery leaves. Native to India, this plant is also known as the trumpet vine or Bengal clock vine.

The flowers look like a giant morning glory. In the mornings, you shall be able to see some fat black bees buzzing around, busy collecting nectar for their Queen.

This is the way to the beach. The path on the left is lined with evergreens, coconut and palm trees. The boat in the front is for hire for kayaking while the boat at the back is for display only.

This coconut tree has many ripening coconuts. I prefer dinking coconut juice from young coconuts while the flesh of the older ones are scraped to make coconut milk or coconut floss for cooking. Toddy aka Indian wine, is a palm beer made from the fermentation of the sap from budding coconut flowers. Toddy used to be a very popular drink among our local people where toddy joints sprung up in small towns, estates and plantations. Nowadays, we can even find toddy sold as a local beer / exotic drink in seafood restaurants, one example being at the Coconut Flower Seafood Restaurant in Telok Gong, Klang.

This signage says that turtles come here to PD beach during the egg laying season from February - June. Glory Beach Resort is just next door to The Lengend Water Chalets Resort.

This is actually an orange Ixora flower.

This time, I was very excited to see a flock of Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis Panayensis) feeding on some oil palm fruits. I think they are having a buffet breakfast just like the one I had at the resort cafe.

These starlings are very small birds with glossy black feathers and striking bright red eyes.

This patch of green is actually the Beach Morning Glory or Goat's Foot. Its scientific name is Ipomoea pres-caprae, a creeping vine that grows along the upper parts of the beach.

I love its bright pink-purple flowers and big green heart shaped leaves.

Urapteroides astheniata (Uraniidae)

This is a snow white butterfly or moth? I spotted it in the early morning.

Updated on 10th March 2011. The above moth is Urapteroides astheniata (Uraniidae).
Sources: Wikipedia, Moths of Borneo and Moths of Australia.

Can somebody tell me the correct name of this plant?
This picture above shows the seeds or is it buds?

Updated: The fruits of Scaevola taccada are white when ripe.

This picture shows the fan-like flowers of the same plant. The white creature above was resting on the leaves of this plant.

Thanks to Scott and Liz, the above plant has been identified as follows:
Scientific name: Scaevola taccada
Synonyms: S. sericea, S. frutescens
Common name: Sea Lettuce
Malay name: Ambong-ambong

Finally, to complete the day, I wish to show you this photograph of the beautiful sunset that I had captured from my hotel room balcony.

Hope you enjoyed the visit.

Till we meet again in my next post, Cheers and Happy Weekend to you all!

Sources of linked information:
a) Wikipedia
d) John&Jacq~s at
My grateful thank you to the above websites.

This is also my entry for Today's Flowers #59. To view other posts around the world, click here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Its Pomegranate, not a Pomelo and a Grenade

I have a pomegranate tree growing from a medium sized flower pot. I don't think I can call this a bonsai because I never trim or prune or shape its roots and body. The only prunning I ever did was to cut off the dried branches and any others that are obstructing my way. Here, the pomegranate is also known as delima. I have a grandmother story to tell you today.

Look! My plant is fruiting now. This is a pomegranate bloom. Isn't this a pretty flower? I'm having some problem with its colour. Bright orange or striking red, it looks the same to me. I think I am having some problems with the rods and cones in my eyes. I have seen some smaller versions that have lots of double blooms but without fruits at the nursery. These will be suitable as ornamental house plants.

This is a flower bud. The petals are just coming out. Blooms last only a day.

This is a spent flower. If pollinated and if it doesn't drop off, it will develop into a fruit.

This is a successful one. I think it looks like a bell or maybe a lady's skirt.

Now, it is getting bigger and bigger as time goes by.

I have two fruits here. One fruit looks like a green pear while another looks like a hand grenade. I tend to get confused on the spelling of its name. Is it promegranate, promengranate or pomengrate???? So I think to myself, its pomelo + grenate = pomegranate

We plant the pomegranate for abundance and good descendents luck. It symbolises good and filial children who will bring honour and glory to the family. When the pomegranate fruit is ripening, we will tie a red ribbon on it if we wish to activate some heaven luck. Buddhists use pomegranate in their prayer rituals too. It is an auspicious fruit to have during the Chinese New Year and if eaten during this time, new mothers are believed to be blessed with sons!

Father gave me this pomegranate 5 years ago when I shifted to my new home. He bought three seedlings, one for me (Tai Kar Cher), one for sister (Yee Cher) and one for brother (Di Di).

When the fruit is left to ripen on its own, it will split open revealing many seeds. Dad said this signifies that the fruit is smiling (like an opened mouth) or laughter from heaven which translates to happiness for the household. The many seeds signifies abundance, especially when it comes to children. To me, it is like opening a treasure chest of rubies and jewels.

My grandmother story.

Our family has a great attachment to the pomegranate tree. Many years ago, grandma planted a beautiful pomengranate tree in front of this Ho Sin Ku temple. Ho Sin Ku is the only lady fairy among the Eight Immortals. The tree grew to more than 10 ft tall and bore a lot of fruits and flowers. It brought a lot of happiness to our household. Grandma was hoping that it will bring forth good descendents luck that translates to many gransons for her. So she was especially fond of this tree. I remember the evenings spent tending to her many plants and this was her favourite. We used cow manure (we call it cow dung) collected from the droppings from the cows that roamed the temple grounds. I have spent many evenings and mornings listening to her Monkey God stories and her childhood in China.

Born in Fusan, she married grandpa when she was still a teenager. As it was an arranged (match-make) marriage and grandpa was in Malaya on the auspicious day of marriage, she had a live rooster dressed as the groom to accompany her during the marriage ceremony in Kwantung (Canton), China. Yes, that was how she performed the tea ceremony and prayers to the ancestors on the day of the marriage. She saw grandpa for the first time when she arrived in Malaya by sea. She was extremely glad that grandpa did not have any disability, was tall and looked quite handsome!

One year, she lost the tender for this temple and had to move out. The new caretaker, cut off the tree and removed everything, tree, stumps, roots and all. When she found out about this later, grandma was extremely angry and heartbroken. It was like a grenade that exploded in her face. She tried to replant new ones but things were never the same again. Later, she gave up completely and switched to pomelo trees instead.

After her death, we never had any more pomegranate trees, not until when I moved house. Dad found a reason to plant pomegranate again. For dad it was to remember grandma while for me, it was for my dad who has since passed on.

I think plants do make people do the strangest things.

This is my entry for Blooming Friday Week 4. My grateful thanks to Katarina at Roses and Stuff for hosting Blooming Friday. This week's theme is ' your favourite wildflower or a beauty you'd like to share'. This week my beauty is the Promegranate Flower.

To see what others have posted or to participate, click here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thank You Blotanists And Blotanical !


I would like to say thank you very much to readers of my blog, "My Nice Garden" for nominating me and my blog for the following 2009 Blotanical Awards categories:

1. Best Native Plants Blog

2. Best Asian Blog

3. Best Commenter Award

I am indeed greatly honoured to have made it to the top 5 finalist and for this I am very grateful to all blotanists who have nominated me. I wish to thank Mr Stuart and his team for doing all the hard work so that we can enjoy the benefits.

Before I end this post, I wish to add this. Actually my favourite topic is Native Plants. I guess I have just 'scrapped through' and made it to the final, maybe I almost didn't make it. If you wish to know what I have already written under native plants, please click on the label "native plants" under archive by label in the sidebar or you may also do a search on the top side bar. If you have any suggestions on how I can improve in this category or other examples you wish to know about South East Asia / Malaysia's native plants, do let me know.

Being an Asian blogger, I am indeed honoured to be selected to the finals.

Regarding best commenter award, I have never expected to make it. So this is a pleasant surprise and great encouragement for me.

Finally, to those who have made it to the finals, this is what I wish to say:


With warmest regards,
Autumn Belle

Monday, September 21, 2009

When There is Pandan, The Cooking's Done.

1. Fragrant Pandan
We have a common garden plant here that many asian mothers who loves to cook also loves to have in their homes. The common name of this plant is screwpine pandanus and its botanical name is Pandanus Amaryllifolius. Locally, we call it the pandan wangi, meaning fragrant pandan. Yes, I have one in my kitchen garden too. It is a cook's faithful servant and companion. Here, in South East Asia, the pandan is cultivated .

Scientific name: Pandanus amaryllifolius
Common name: Fragrant Pandan, Screwpine
Chinese name:七葉蘭 (qi ye lan  - seven leafed orchid)
Malay name: Pandan Wangi
Synonym: Pandanus odorus, Pandanus latifolius
Family: Pandanaceae
Origin: Moluccas, Indonesia

2. A bundle of Pandanus amaryllifolius leaves

Well, if you don't grow it, you can also buy it from any wet markets or hypermarkets here. They sell in bundles like this. This one is sold by a farmer who grows her own organic vegetables. It costs only RM 50 cents. Also, if you do not grow this plant inside your house compound but plant it somewhere outside your home, it is a free for all thing. Other people may be tempted to cut off a portion of the leaves. Maybe they won't ask if you are not looking. Afterall, it is an emergency! They need it to cook a great main dish and desserts to satisfy loved ones.

3. My pandan plant

How to grow the pandan plant?

If I want to grow this plant, I don't go to the nursery. I will go to the market and tell the seller that I wish to grow it. The kind seller will select a stalk that has tiny roots at the base. Then I can go back home to root it by putting it in a container of water and let it stand for a few days until roots appear. Thereafter I will plant it in the well-drained soil.

The pandan is an ideal plant to have in our backyard. The leaves are shiny, look like long blades and they are green the whole year through. I have never seen any flowers or fruits from this plant though. The plant doesn't need much care and it is seldom attacked by insects or diseases. Once established, I do not need to fertilize it anymore. Watering is only needed during dry season. After we cut off some portions of the leaves for cooking, it will grow back very soon. When left to grow wild, it can develop many branches which make it look quite bushy. It actually blends in to add to the beauty of our tropical landscape and home gardens.

Special note for those growing pandan in cooler climates
Pandanus amaryllifolius, being a tropical plant loves the warm and humid conditions. It is advisable to plant pandan in a container because it can't survive the cold and frost. You have to bring it indoors or place it in a greenhouse during the winter months and reduce the watering. Do not wet the leaves as the water droplets may freeze and damage the plant or the dampness may lead to rotting.

4. Pandan plants in a community garden

We use the leaves mainly for cooking. Just like you have the essence/extract of vanilla beans for western cooking, we have the pandan leaves. For example, we can tie a few leaves together into a knot and cook it together with our pot of rice. It gives the rice a sweet, tasty aroma. It also adds a distinctly good flavour to the rice. It is a must have for cooking 'nasi lemak' or coconut flavoured rice. The leaves are not eaten but discarded after the cooking process.

Other uses:
5. Pandan flavoured bun

1. In the picture above, our local baker has used pandan leaves to line this curry chicken bun.

2. Pandan cakes and even pandan moon cakes - the juice extracted from the pandan leaves are added as an ingredient to give it a pandan flavour and the green colour.

3. Thai sytled cooking - the leaves are used to wrap the meat before it is deep fried, e.g. Thai styled pandan chicken

4. Desserts - Here, we have what we call the 'kuih' and dessert drinks. Kuih is a dessert made from a few types of flour. Here, pandan leaves are pounded or blended to extract its juice to give the kuih the green colour. It also adds flavour to the kuih and makes it more tasty. The leaves can also be shapped into a box. Here, cooking ingredients are poured into it. It acts as a 3-in-one, i.e. mould cum storage container cum packaging. For dessert soup/drinks, we boil the leaf to get its flavour and aroma, thereafter the leaves are discarded. We can also use it to cook Chinese dessert soups or 'tong-shui' like bobo-caca, sweet potato, peanuts, sesame, black bean, red bean, mung bean, wheat, sago, or other grain soups.

5. We also have pandan essence. Like vanilla essence, it is used to add flavour to cakes and other confectionery items, examples are pandan flavoured ice-cream, breads and buns.

6. Some people use dried pandan leaves as a natural insect (e.g. cockroach) repellant.

7. Others use the leaves to make potpourri, e.g. in malay weddings.

8. In aromatherapy, its fragrance is used in traditional cosmetics, hair care and body scrubs.

9. Some people use the leaves to refresh rooms.

If you wish to try out some recipes of these delightful dishes, do visit Kuali. Just type in the word 'pandan' under the search option and you will be rewarded with quite a number of illustrated dishes and how to cook them.

Have you see the pandan plant before?
Can you grow it in your area?
Do you have any other suggestions related to it's uses?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blooming Friday - Week 3

Hey, today is Blooming Friday, Week 3 and the theme is Leading Ladies and Figurants. My Leading Lady today has to be the senduduk. Its scientific name is Melastoma Malabathricum. It is an evergreen shrub, sometimes regarded as a widespread weed in tropical forests. This plant has multiple medicinal and other uses. For example, if you are lost in the jungle and get a small cut or minor wound, you can pluck the leaves of this plant, crush it and use it to stop the bleeding. Some people put it into their mouths to chew before applying it onto the wound. In the old days, villagers used its dried branches to make brooms and used it to sweep their house compounds.

I bought this senduduk seedling at a nursery in Sungai Buloh for RM 5.00 a few months ago. It has started to bloom now, eventhough it is only about 3 ft tall. Their purple flowers are very pretty and looks something like your clematis flowers. Bangchik, my fellow Malaysian blogger of My Little Vegetable Garden has dedicated quite a number of posts about this plant. Like him, I too have fallen in love with this beautiful native inhabitant of our swamps and forest motherland. Besides purple, there are also those with white flowers.

Next comes the Figurants, the hardy plants with many flowers that have not stopped blooming. My choice would be my Cat Whiskers (Orthosiphon Stamineus) plant. This is also our native plant, my faithful bloomer. It is an everygreen woody shrub and blooms the whole year through. Mine produces white flowers now. It started with purple flowers during the first batch but it has been white flowers ever since. This plant is very very easy to grow. When its stems touches the ground, roots will form. It makes a very beautiful groundcover. Cat whiskers are also known for their medicinal value.

Well, does it ring a bell when you look at the header of my blog again? It is a picture of the leaves of the cat whiskers plant!

A biotech company in Malaysia has started commercial production of cat whiskers herbal tea bags using the leaves of this plant. Many people also started growing this plant for their leaves (fresh or dried) which is steeped with hot water and drank. Have you heard about it or tried this before?

This is my coral white vinca plant. It has not stopped flowering since the day I bought it and now producing seeds. I am planting some of its seeds to see whether all the plants will bear pure white flowers. Can you see a dragonfly resting on one of the blooms?

My portulaca grandiflora in shocking pink. Both buds will open as the day gets warmer or brighter.
This portulaca shares a container with my pomelo plant.
Its bud is half opened now.

This bud is going to open soon too.
Fully opened, the petals look like 5 hearts or love notes in pastel pink and white. I especially like the pointy stigma that makes it look like a 6-point star wand. Can you imagine a beauty queen carrying her victory wand?

Here are four friends. Usually the bi-colour ones outnumber the whites.

This is my marigold. Their heads are getting too large for their own good. They are now suffering from droopy head syndrome.

This is my Torenia Fournieri (bluewings or wishbone flower). I got this from a neighbour in Ipoh. It is growing wild lie a week in her garden. She just pulled out one of them and handed it to me in a plastic bag. I put some water into the bag and it travelled with me in a 2 and a half hour journey to my home. As I arrived home late at night, I only planted it in a pot the next day. I think it has the same survival instincts of a weed!

This is my heliconia flower. It requires minimum care and flowers the whole year through.

I came accross this little fella during my photography rounds. So I might as well include him in. He has just jumped from my bamboo plant to this palm leaf. He thinks he is very clever and hidden from my view since his whole body is in camourflage. I think he loves the leaves of my torch ginger. You should have seen the zig-zag patterns he has made to their leaves. I think he has a sharp cutter in his mouth. Anyway, I have no heart to kill him.

This time the cape honeysuckles are not blooming in big numbers. Maybe its because I have trimmed it almost bald. But I like this solo picture.

Finally, my bunga kantan, the torch ginger. I didn't cook it, so now it has opened up all its petals and showing me how happy it is.
I hope you like my parade of blooms this week and I wish you a wonderful weekend.

This is my entry for Blooming Friday. My grateful thanks to Katarina at Roses and Stuff for hosting Blooming Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, click here.


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