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, November 28, 2010

My First Scarlet Passion Flower

Today, I am delighted to show you my first bloom of scarlet passion flower (Passiflora coccinea).  When I first saw this passion flower at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama, it was love at first sight. The plant was blooming profusely on a huge pergola. There were so many blooms and buds, indeed a sight to behold. My first post on the scarlet passion flower is here.

Botanical name: Passiflora coccinea
Common name: Scarlet Passion Flower
Family: Oxalidaceae
Origin: Tropical America

I tried to grow one at home but my first seedling died after lying dormant for some time. I should have known better when it didn't grow at all for more than 3 months despite all the care that I had given. It was not until I saw Aaron's plant that I realised mine is a goner. His was growing fast. Perhaps somethings are not meant to be, just like in real life relationships, passion without love may lead to nowhere.

When I went to the nursery where I bought this plant to complain about this, they told me that there will not be any refund or replacements for plants that died in my hands.  Undeterred and still very determined to grow a passion flower in my garden, I purchased a second seedling. This one survived and now it is blooming. I am smiling.

“My First Scarlett Passion Flower”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on November 28th, 2010.

This is the unopened bud. The flower lasts only a day. By sundown, the flower closes and appear like a bud again. The next day, it dries up and fades away.

Another view of the vine spreading over my wall fencing. Like many attractive red flowers, there is no scent.

If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.
..... Benjamin Franklin

This is my entry for Today's Flowers # 121, 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 my favourite flower this month, so I am joining in the Blog Carnival at Fer's, the link is here.

I think this flower is Hot, Loud and Proud, so I am also joining Noel at his meme # 9, the link is here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kesidang for A Touch of White.

This is Vallaris glabra. You call it bread flowers in the west. We call it Kesidang in Malaysia. It is the state flower of Malacca, the historical state of Malaysia. This is my second post about the kesidang. My first detailed post about this plant is here.

I first met Kesidang at the Secret Garden of 1-Utama. It was a small plant but many visitors stopped to admire this plant. They were surprised to find Kesidang there. Then I met Kesidang again at the Hibiscus Garden of Kuala Lumpur. This time, it was spread over a huge pergola and it was blooming profusely.

“Kesidang for A Touch of White”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on November 25th, 2010.

The most wonderful thing about this plant is its fragrance. To me, it smells like cooked fragrant rice, pandan and nasi lemak. Many people say it look and smell like slightly burnt rice crusts. These are Kesidang flower buds and they do look like rice grains, don't they?

The flowers are tiny but they are beautiful and they look like splendid little stars. I have fallen in love with the Kesidang at the Hibiscus Garden of Kuala Lumpur, so I searched high and low for this plant. Finally, I found it and today it is growing happily in a flower pot in my garden. As this is a vine, it needs support when it is growing, so I have placed the plant near to the wall fencing.

The fragrance of the kesidang flowers is more pronounced in the mornings and evenings at the hour of sunrise and sundown. A whiff of pandan fills the air whenever I walk by, reminding me of the flavourful aroma of mom's cooking when I was young.

Little flowers, so pretty and sweet, pure and white as cream.

The kesidang plant was very popular a long long time ago, now its grandeur may be lost because people do not grow it any more. I have never regretted living together with my kesidang.

Lastly, to all my friends in the USA, Happy Thanksgiving!

This is my entry for Fertilizer Friday, thank you very much to Tootsie for hosting Fertilizer Friday here.
This is also my entry for Blooming Friday, the theme today is "A Touch of White". Thank you very much to Katarina at Roses and Stuff, her link is here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Arfah's Garden

Arfah is a young Malaysian lady who maintains a home garden in the city of Kuala Lumpur where she lives.  She first wrote to me with a query about the Mickey Mouse Plant. She has also sent me some pictures of her lovely garden. I am really touched by her sincerity and with her kind permission, I am delighted to share her pride and joy with you today.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Heliconia collinsiana x H. bourgaeana cv. 'Pedro Ortiz' (Hot Pink)

This heliconia cultivar named "Pedro Ortiz" (Hot Pink) was exhibited at Floria 2010. It is thought to be a natural hybrid between pendant Heliconia collinsiana and the erect Heliconia bourgaeana.

Notice how its inflorescence neither points up nor hangs down but is formed in a somewhat twisted shape or 'intermediate' manner.

Heliconia collinsiana x H. bourgaeana cv. 'Petro Ortiz' (Hot Pink)”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on November 19th, 2010.

Scientific name: Heliconia collinsiana x bourgaeana "Pedro Ortiz"
Family: Heliconiaceae
Order: Zingiberale

With such a lovely silhouette, it no doubt lives up to its exotic, sexy name of Pedro Ortiz "Hot Pink".  The leaves are large, lush and green. The plants can reach a height of 6-8 ft.
Well, they are beautiful and voluptuous, aren't they? 
The bracts are a solid red in colour. It has a red rachis while the sepals are golden yellow.
The tiny true flowers are yellow too.
I have never seen this cultivar in a home garden and I wonder if anyone is growing it.

Now that you have seen a few versions of heliconias, which do you like best - H. chartacea Sexy Pink, Bright Red-Yellow H. rostrata or this Pedro Ortiz Hot Pink?

The theme for this week's Blooming Friday is "Dream". So I wish you sweet dreams tonight and maybe you can visit the exotic world of heliconias again in dreamland.

This is my entry for Blooming Friday, 3rd week of November 2010. My grateful thanks to Katarina at Roses and Stuff for hosting Blooming Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, click here.

This is also my entry for Fertilizer Friday. My grateful thanks to Tootsie at Tootsie Time for hosting Fertilizer Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, visit

Sunday, November 14, 2010

GBBD Nov 2010 and Foliage Follow-Up Day

It is time for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up Day for November 2010. I have Costus woodsonii to start off my parade this time. It is also known as Red Button Ginger, Scarlet Spiral Flag, French Kiss and Dwarf Cone Ginger.  The bloom is a bright red inflorescence that look like luscious lipstick while the real flower is the tiny one with yellow petals just peeking out from its orange bud. Each flower open one by one on different days and lasts only a day. The emerald green foliage reminds me of precious jade and their unusual stems look like spiral canes.

2. I have a beautiful model to practice on my new camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH1. This butterfly has just emerged from its chrysalis. It is drying its wings waiting for a smooth take-off early in the morning.

3. My Etlingera elatior, pink torch ginger blooms posing next to the curvaceous costuses with red lipstick spikes. The pink ginger blooms shoot out directly from the ground because they have underground stems. Costus blooms appear as terminal spikes at the end of spiral stems. Costuses are also known as spiral gingers.

My two ginger plants are partners in my garden but they are worlds apart in character. A case of opposites attract?

“GBBD Nov 2010 and Foliage Follow-Up Day”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on November 14th, 2010.

4. From left to rignt - Heliconia psittacorum spp, Tibouchina urvilleana (princess flower or glory bush) and Alpinia galanga ginger (aka galangal or lengkuas in Malay). Other common names of galangal include blue ginger in Chinese. We use the ginger in our Asian cooking, e.g. Malay, Indonesian and Thai cuisine. I am growing this ginger plant from some leftover rhizomes. I like the foliage but I have never seen the white alpinia flowers yet. I wonder how it looks like.

5. A closeup of my princess, the Tibouchina urvilleana. I grow it in a flower pot. The bush will be much bigger if you grow it on the ground.

6. My Heliconia psittacorum 'Andromeda' have bright orange flowers with a dark green tip. The bracts are red in colour. H. psittacorum is also known as Parrot's Beak or Parakeet Flower.

7. My orange yellow Heliconia psittacorum which looks like the cultivar 'Choconiana'.

Can you differentiate the bracts from the true flowers?
The true flowers have dark green tips.

8. My turmeric ginger plant and lemon grass plant. The leaves have a very mild lemon scent. I use the rhizomes of the Curcuma longa (turmeric) for making turmeric rice with curry chicken and also turmeric fried chicken. The leaves of the turmeric plant is used in making chicken, beef and mutton rendang which is a traditional Malay dish. Well, some kind of winged insects love my turmeric leaves too. When they feast on the leaves, they will make many holes on it. Surprisingly, all the holes are arranged in straight neat rows accross the leaves like sewing patterns!

I use lemon grass in curries, fried chicken and it can also be steeped to make lemon grass and ginger iced tea with honey.

The foliage you see nearby are not weeds but the vegetables such as sweet tapioca leaves and sweet leaves (or cekur manis which is partly hidden from view) and 'hempedu bumi' herbs. Hempedu bumi (Andrographis paniculata) is the most bitter herb in the world but its leaves and roots has many medicinal values.

9. I am trying to grow the common ginger (Zingiber officinale). It takes a a few weeks to almost a month for the shoots to develop when I try to grow from the rhizomes of store bought ginger. The ginger seller at the wet market taught me how to use some old newspapers to wrap the dried rhizomes for a few weeks before planting it on the soil.

10. New shoots has sprouted from the stem cuttings of my mint plant, which came from the leftovers from my cooking process. I use the leaves for garnishing curries and laksa, stir fries or making soup. I also like the mint dipping sauce they serve at Indian restaurants to go with my Naan and Tandoori dishes.

11. My chili flowers have been pollinated and I have some chilies to look forward too. I am waiting for them to turn red before I harvest them. The chilies are grown from the leftover seeds from my cooking process.

12. I think this spring onion is having a change of clothes just as I was taking its picture. Due to space limitations, it is sharing a home with my Murraya paniculata.

13. The variegated foliage of my bougainvilleas. I apply more watering to get more foliage and less watering to get them to flower.

That's all for this month. I hope it will brighten up your day and Cheers!

This is my entry for Today's Flowers # 119, 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.

Thank you to Carol of May Dreams Garden for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. To participate or view what's blooming in other gardens, visit this link here.

Thank you to Pam of Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-Up Day. Do visit her link here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My First Google Adsense Money! Yippee!

Recently when I checked my Google Adsense Account, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they have issued a payment of USD 108.97 to my name on 27 Sep 2010! I was more than 30 days late when I found out but luckily I have not missed the dateline yet.

Actually this is nothing to shout about. I signed up on 24 Aug 2009 and it has taken me about a year to earn this amount of money. Initially I earned less than a dollar per month which is very meagre, so this is something I have forgotten about. Anyway I enjoyed looking at those animated images on my blog, so I just left it there. Now that I have received the real money, it feels good, haha.

Why did I advertise?
Well, I do it in order to keep up with technology and also out of curiosity. I was actually sceptical that I could earn any money online.

How to do?
It is very easy. All I did was to sign up for Google Adsense, wait for their approval and then paste the ads in my blog. I am very concerned that the adverts may drive away my garden blog readers, so I have restricted the ads to 'AdSense for Content' only. I think earnings is based on per click basis when readers visit my blog to read the contents.

How do I receive my payment?
Google Adsense will automatically issue payment once the earnings exceed USD 100.00. I am using the Western Union Quick Cash option. This method is faster than the cheque method as cheques in foreign currency will take more than a month to clear in my country. I just have to print out the payment advice and bring along my Identity Card when I go to my local bank to collect payment. I also need to fill up a Remittance Form. There are no bank charges and payment is made on the spot. I have received RM 333.50.

“My First Google Adsense Money! Yippee!”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on November 13th, 2010.

A word of caution - never click on your own ads. It is stated very clearly in the terms and conditions that if you do so, Google Adsense will suspend your account and all your earnings will be disqualified!

Although my earnings are very little, I hope you can gain some information from my own experience. Hopefully your rewards will be much greater than mine.

Lastly, I'd like to thank all my readers for your valuable support and for visiting my blog. Your comments and visits are the biggest motivation why I continue to blog.

Post Publication Update
1. I found that Google Adsense suits people like me who are non-technies and non-pro bloggers. I do not like bling-bling or pop-ups. I only want to write a good post, the opinion which is genuininely mine and not influenced by any sponsor.

2. Although it is not my intention to make money online (it is beyond my capability anyway), I have to admit that I am very happy to get money out of something I love to do. There is this personal satisfaction that boosts my self esteem.

3. I have decided to donate the money to charity.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Heliconia rostrata The Hanging Lobster Claw

Heliconia rostrata, also commonly called the Hanging Lobster Claw is the regarded as the most beautiful and it is also the most popular species of heliconia grown in home gardens here. "Rostata is a Latin adjective for beaked, curved or hooked and this refers to its likeness to a parrot's beak.

In my previous post about Heliconia chartacea "Sexy Pink Lady", many people mentioned about the beautiful red heliconia. Perhaps they are mentioning this one.

The above is a picture of  the Heliconia rostrata Ruiz & Pavon "Ten Day" exhibited at Floria 2010.

A budding Heliconia rostrata inflorescence in my sister's garden.

Scientific name: Heliconia rostrata
Common name: Hanging Lobster Claw
Family: Heliconiaceae
Order: Zingiberale
Origin: Peru and Ecuador
Category: Tropical perennial herb

This species can be grown on the ground and in large flower pots. The inflorescences  are pendulous, with the bracts coloured bright red and yellow at the sides. Notice that their leaves look like banana leaves.

A clump of Heliconia rostrata Ruiz & Pavon "Ten Day" exhibit at Floria 2010.

H. rostrata is a medium sized plant that can grow to a height of between 2-2.5 m tall.

Heliconia rostrata The Hanging Lobster Claw”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on November 12th, 2010.

This clump is located at the landscaped walkway leading to the Putrajaya Shangri-la Hotel.
The inflorescences are elegant and spectacular and they last a long time. Notice that H. rostrata and H. chartacea has inflorescences that droops like a pendant. In my previous post on H. episcopalis "Arrow Red Orange Spears", the blooms are erect and pointing up.

They are also excellent as cut flowers. Andrea in This Lifetime is posting H. psittacorum spp today. In her post titled, "Drooping Beauties" and you can view a picture of H.rostrata used very creatively in a buffet table centrepiece.

Now that you have seen both H. chartacea "Sexy Pink Lady" and H. rostrata, which do you think is more beautiful?

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all ?????

This is my entry for Fertilizer Friday, the link is here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Heliconia episcopalis "Arrow Red Orange Spear" - Wordless Wednesday

Heliconia episcopalis "Arrow Red Orange Spear" - Wordless Wednesday”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on November 10th, 2010.

This is my entry for Wordless Wednesday. To view other entries, click here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Heliconia chartacea "Sexy Pink" Lady

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all???

I think Heliconia chartaceae "Sexy Pink" is the most beautiful of all the heliconias I have seen.

The inflorescences are showy and spectacular, in fact very enchanting. It has a hot pink rachis with the waxy bracts fading from frosty pink to pale greenish white at the edges.

Scientific name: Heliconia chartacea "Sexy Pink"
Common name: Pink Flamingo Heliconia
Family: Heliconiaceae
Order: Zingiberale
Origin: Guiana and Brazil

Category: Tropical perennial herb

In its native place, it is often found near human habitation where it can grow to a height o f 7-8 m fall. In cultivation, it can grow to 3 m tall.

Heliconia chartacea blooms the whole year round. The inflorescenes are long and pendulous, facing downwards. The true flowers are green in colour and they contain nectar that attracts birds.

Heliconia chartaceae "Sexy Pink" Lady”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on November 7th, 2010.

"Sexy Pink" is a cultivar selected for garden planting. They look so elegant and graceful.
Notice that leaves have a characteristic shreded look.

The cut flowers can have a vase life as long as 10-14 days. The above is a floral arrangement at the buffet table of the 5-star Putrajaya Shangri-la Hotel. The centre piece has pink anthuriums resting on split leaf philodendrons or Monstera deliciosa (my guess only) leaves at the base. On second thoughts, it also look like the leaves of the sexy pink lady.

All the other pictures are taken at floral festival Floria 2010.
I am so excited to see this lovely Sexy Pink Lady Heliconia growing happily in the garden of Africanaussie in North Queensland, Australia. She has written 4 posts about this heliconia. In her recent post "Making Those Flowers Last", she has a great tip on how to make heliconia cut flowers last longer.  You can also view the small green flowers and seeds there.

This is my entry for Today's Flowers # 118, 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.

Friday, November 5, 2010

We Have Tico Berry at KLCC Park

Do you know what is Tico Berry?
Have you ever heard of Tico Berries?

I think most Malaysians would have never heard of tico berries until they watched the 47th episode of Ugly Betty titled, "Ugly Berry". In this episode, Ugly Betty found out that super sexy super gorgeous supermodel Adriana Lima was a fan of this super rare fruit, the tico berry!

Is tico berry a fictitious name created for the show?

Well, most of us who saw the ' rare berry' know that it looked like our rambutan. If you google for tico berry, wikipedia will lead you to rambutan!

Rambutan is a Malay word. "Rambut" means hair while "rambutan" means lots of hair.

This is a young rambutan tree at KLCC Park. It is our indigineous tree. Rambutan trees grow wild in the tropical rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia.

In the "Eat, Pray, Love" movie, Julia Roberts and her Brazilian partner went shopping at the wet market in Bali and came across this exotic, 'hairy fruit' called the rambutan.

Scientific name: Nephelium lappaceum
Family: Sapindaceae
Common name: Rambutan
Origin: Malaysia, Indonesia

Sapindaceae is also known as the soapberry family and it include lychee, longan, maple and horse chestnuts.

“We Have Tico Berry at KLCC Park”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on November 5th, 2010.

The rambutan fruits turn from green to bright red or yellow when riped.

Rambutan trees are commonly found here, especially in the villages and countryside. When I was little, we had a rambutan tree in my house compound. Whenever rambutans were in season (usually twice a year), the tree would be loaded with rambutan fruits and we would have so much we could not finish all, so we distributed them to our neighbours in bunches and baskets. The tree was just next to my bedroom window and I used to fantasized how nice it would be if there was a tree house/playhouse with a ladder from my window to the tree!

If there was a rambutan tree at home, there was bound to be a family member who can climb this tree. In my case, it was my dad. Some moms, grandmas, sisters and kids could achieve this feat too. It was quite necessary to climb the tree to harvest the fruits, eventhough we had a long stick or pole with hook attached. When rambutan fruits were not in season, people might also climb the tree e.g. to get a clearer view of certain exciting events or happenings, e.g. a street magic show, street medicine man demonstrating his stuff within a large crowd of people. That was old times, old times .....

When I got married and moved to the city, I had a big rambutan tree, a jackfruit tree and also 2 mango trees in my corner house compound. The trees provided shade for my children to play their outdoor games and they enjoyed riding on the wooden swing that was tied to the branches of our rambutan tree. It was home to the birds, some ferns and even provided food for the bats. It also was a good aiming target for some neighbouring kids to practice their lastic (catapult) skills on the poor little tweety birds.

When I moved to my current house, the new owners didn't want any plants or trees because they wanted to cement the whole area for parking their lorry and cars. I had to cut them down. Soon the trees were gone forever, and now, only cherised memories remain.

The rambutan is closely related to the lychee and longan. To eat the fruits, we need to peel off the skin first. We can just do this using our fingers. We eat the whitish, translucent flesh wrapped around the single seed. The best varieties have thick, sweet flesh. Rambutans are full of vitamins and minerals.  When buying rambutans, it is better to select those that are still attached to the branches as these fruits last longer in storage.

As a safety precaution, we do not give the whole fruit to young children as they may accidently swallow it and choke to death. You can see that the fruit is round and slippery, so we peel off the flesh before serving it to them. Peeled rambutan flesh can be easily stored in the fridge.

Rambutan flesh can be used to make rambutan jam. You can buy canned rambutans stuffed with pineapple and use them to make fruit punch.

Rambutan trees can be propagated from seeds, by air layering or grafting.

Andrea has a picture of the young shoots of the rambutan tree in her latest post titled, "New Growths New Life!

Do try the rambutan when you visit Malaysia!

Do you have a rambutan story to tell?

Wishing all my Hindu friends,

Happy Deepavali!

Updated: 1st Feb 2013
The following are some pictures of a matured, fruiting rambutan tree taken in Kampung Baru Kampung Timah in Tanjung Tuallang.


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