Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hawaiian Melody

This morning I seemed to feel happy and bright, after a mind boggling night of writing and re-writing a poem called AYU. Thus when I walked around the garden that need to be cleaned up today, the vibes in the air resonated my feelings of accomplishment . How do you express it? To have accomplished something is easy to express, like outstretching bracts of heliconias. Then if someone sings well, it has to be melodious. What is melody , without the highs and lows of musical pitch. I mean there must be in a musical piece a low feeling , like the whiteness of gardenias and the highs , like red hot hibiscus. Thus the title of this composition...a Hawaiian Melody.

'Bleeding Hearts' enhanced

Arrangement #18

As a follow up from yesterday's composition, I have added a lily flower, some brown bracts and the stiff leaves of Phormium cookianum, which has a creamy white and green foliage. The vertical structure of the brown bracts and the foliage would render some dramatic effects to the composition, or so I thought.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bleeding Hearts

Arrangement # 17

The yellow bamboo culm ( stem) still fascinates me and this late afternoon I decided to cut its top section diagonally. I was thinking of the best candidate to fill up the empty bamboo vessel. While passing by the side of my chalet I saw a group of bleeding hearts flowers ( Clerondendron thomsonae) customarily lowering its sprays in late afternoon sun. "That's my candidate", my heart sang out. To enhance the emotion of heart felt passion I thought two bracts of red lipstick heliconia ( Heliconia stricta) will help accentuate and yet harmonise with the general emotional intensity of the composition. I thought the best title for the composition would be...yes, for sure....Bleeding Hearts.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sparkling Fragrance

Here's a variation of the jasmine flower basket from the earlier composition.
Arrangement # 16

The orangish pink lily flower and a few petals of red ginger would provide fire or spark of life to the whole composition. Thus for the purpose of naming it, I call the composition...Sparkling Fragrance.

Jasmine Fragrance.

I came back to the farm quite late this afternoon after a half day outing at Bintulu town. Thus it was in the late afternoon sun that I walked around the garden to look for my next candidate. At one corner of my garden was a big jasmine shrub that hugs to the post. The scent from the flowers were heavenly. Jasmine flowers mean a lot to Malaysians. Many parents lovingly named their girls Jasmin, or Melur or Melati after this fragrant flower. I find that it is the buds that are more fragrant. When the buds develop into a flower the scent seems to fade away.

Arrangement # 15

I had some leftovers from yesterday's collection of sassy pink heliconias. I experimented by removing the bracts to expose it true flowers and bend the stalk to create the impression of a flower basket handle. Then I combined it with the jasmine flowers and one gardenia flower from the variegated species. I call the above composition......Evening scent.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pink Sprouts

There is so much that one can do and discover in the jungle. Like the other day, while I was developing the 'sassy pink' footpath I came across a few rotten pieces of wood that have decorative as well as utilitarian potential. If there were swept on the beach they could very well be called driftwood. They look seasoned and resembled attractive art pieces by nature's handiwork. With its core rotten and hollow, I decided to make it as a plant container.

A view of the display to indicate the placement of the heliconia flowers inside the core of the rotten piece of wood .

The meter long wood with a string of the heliconia 'sassy pink' bracts placed inside its hollow core. Shall we call this display....Pink sprouts?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Ancient Image Found New in Time

My fascination with this rotten tree trunk took an interesting turn, the other day. There is a basic quality about the trunk which I felt need to expressed. It has been there over many years, ('reels of time' ) waiting to be discovered. When I found it, I felt its sculptured look has been the work of time . Again the idea is time immemorial,kept hidden in the forest floor , waiting to be discovered , in due time. By the time I picked it , I found a time capsule, telling my me, the ancient yet new.

Therefore I name the above composition..Windmills of Your Mind.

Fascinating rotten tree trunk

The rotten tree trunk that I found while doing the underbrushing works at the vegetation island no.1 the other day, has kept my mind reeling for more creations . Its ruggedness and rather ancient look makes it an exotic piece of sculpture . Somehow it tried to communicate to me the idea that ancient is novel. I had this morning moved about ten clumps of heliconia 'sassy pink' to their new locations at the newly developed sassy pink footpath for instant planting. Late in the morning , before lunch I rapidly made the following arrangements below:

The above is my favourite. I name the composition..." Ancient Mystery".

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yellow Bamboo plant container

In this composition I added two fine details. Three stalks of miniature wild banana and a frangipani flower. I am now pleased with the final result.

The earlier composition....without the fine touches is pictured below.

The tallest grass

With the help of Ati, I began to clear the undergrowth of Vegetation Island No.1, which I planned to incorporate into the Heliconia Valley project. This Heliconia project covers tw0 vegetation islands, which are original jungle conserved. The total area would be about half an acre.

From the area relatively cleared of its undergrowth and thickets above, I was able to harvest some heliconias and a yellow bamboo culm ( stem). Could this culm be used in a flower arrangement? I wondered......since bamboo is botanically the tallest in the grass family, how can you represent it in a table arrangement?

Upon further thinking, I thought why not cut the culm and insert it into a vase. This would provide height to the low, round and flattish flower vase. Well, here's how it turned out.... firstly.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Strong Hearted?

A clump of heliconia stricta which was cleared of surrounding grasses have exposed its many red lipstick coloured bracts which I thought should be cut and served separately. I have endeavoured to just exhibit their strong colours in the composition below.

Shall I call the above arrangement,'Strong Hearted?' Hmmm....

Colourful heliconia bracts

Being a Sunday morning I thought of taking it easy. I had an early morning walk to the back of my chalet that faces the jungle. While walking up the steps of the heliconia collection area I noticed the heliconia clumps seemed to greet me in full colours and rich splendour. Why not clean up the footsteps and let the sun shine reflect further the beauty of the heliconia bracts? Or so I thought.

In a moment's notice I rushed to get my gardening tools and with a zeal and enthusiasm I have not felt for quite sometime, I began scrapping the overgrown footpath from the bottom step and quickly moved up, step by step. By the time I finished the morning hours, it was time for lunch. Along the side of the steps are a collection of six varieties of heliconia, which I will describe shortly.

Heliconias make splendid cut flowers, not because of its flowers which are very insignificant and almost enclosed by the bracts but it colourful bracts. Herein lies its appeal. The bracts can be golden yellow, pink, orange, lipstick red or combinations of the these various colours and more.

My favourites? It's difficult to say because In my collection presently are twelve species. And there are hundreds more! Pressed further, I would say heliconia 'sassy pink'. I love its long pendulous string of pink bracts some one meter long or more. Then there is the dark red and the 'dare you try me' look of the heliconia stricta. I have two varieties of the golden yellow coloured heliconia as in the heliconia psittacorum species ( lobster claw or parrot flower) . Another striking variety I noticed this morning was the heliconia latispatha which have tiny bracts of yellow and red colours. At one corner I found the bright and attractive heliconia rostrata ( fire crackers).

Most heliconia bracts last long, some more than a week in a container filled with water. There are easy to grow. Requires shade and respond well to fertilising. Needs lots of water though.

My arrangements for today:

Arrangement #8

I had an empty round glass fish bowl in the store which I took out from its hiding place and made it to hold three short stalks of heliconia'sassy pink' as above.

Arrangement # 9

In the above arrangement I added the redness of heliconia stricta to the composition. In closer view, each inflorescence of the heliconia stricta has lip stick red bracts edged with green.

Below is the scene of my morning workout. At this one spot is a collection of six varieties of heliconia .

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Perfume from the garden

I must confess that I am a great admirer of gardenias. In my eco-farm I have planted rows of them along the farm access road. But two varieties that I like best are the common gardenia ( Cape Jasmine or known botanically as Gardenia jasminoides) and another species that is variegated as shown here.

The flowers of this variegated species have petals like the rose. They turn slightly yellowish upon wilting. I chose two flowers this morning and had my dining area perfumed in an instant.

I made the gardenia as the focus of today's arrangement. To add a jazzy touch, I included the end tips of a young coconut frond, red leaves of the 'fire brand' ( Cordyline terminalis) , and young leaves of the wild banana. To upscale the mood, I added the golden yellow bracts of the heliconia lobster claw species.

It has been narrated that among the Tahitian islanders, if a man wears a 'tiare' ( Tahitian gardenia) on his left ears, it means he is 'quite content' romantically, If on the right ear, he' is looking' and if on both ears,'has someone and wants more'. In Sarawak however, the Malay girls like to collect the petals and broadcast it over the bed or under the pillow to enjoy its heavy fragrance.

There are about 200 known varieties in the world andhere in Malaysia the gardenias were initially introduced from China. For that matter the gardenia flower is sometimes called 'Bunga Cina', meaning'Chinese flower.'

Gardenias love semi shade. Be generous when watering them and will respond you in kind if you dress it in rich compost and fertiliser. These simple acts will be rewarded with abundant flowering.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Great Frangipani

I will not do justice to this plant if I don't provide sufficient information about this tropical beauty. The Great Frangipani is always white in colour. Other varieties are also available in colours of yellow, pink , red and combinations of them. To my mind , however, the white variety is most appealing to the senses as a result of its extra strong scent.

This morning I woke up early to catch the early blooms and was surprised to see the frangipanis exhibiting their best . I plucked two branches with a handsome cluster of flowers at its terminal ends. Rushed back to my chalet. Found an old sea shell. Turned it upside down and pleased to see the result as below.

Way back in the 17 th century, a French botanist by the name of Charles Plumier had journeyed to the tropics and described various species of this plant. The botanic name 'Plumeria' is therefore a recognition of his studies. This plant is one of the easiest plant to propagate and grow.

Take a slightly old branch, preferably a meter long, hang it to dry its sap for a day or two before planting it in a soil mix of damp sand and peat moss. Do not water too heavily or else the succulent branches will rot . Once established fertilise them with a rich compost and decayed manure.

In Sarawak and Malaysia for that matter, the great frangipani loves the open sun and rain. They flower continuously and just recently have gained a big following among gardeners here due to its evergreen quality and heavy clusters of white flowers that they freely exhibit the whole year long.

Besides ,the white frangipani has gained a certain degree of spirituality due to its focal point and prevalence in the Balinese garden concept. Overall, I love frangipanis for its fragrance, its showability ( I mean showy character) and ease of maintenance.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Delight in the Air

A spray of pink flowers of the Plumeria rubra species or commonly called pink frangipani.

I am at a loss to name this plant. Anyway, it is a recent introduction to the landscaping circles. The recent interest in ' contemporary tropical' landscaping movement has generated lots of energy and adrenaline rush among collectors to the deep jungle of Sarawak and Borneo for rare tropical plants. In particular, the plants are selected for their architectural form, decorative potential and fragrance besides being a novelty. This morning I was clearing a clump of this plant below some fifty meters away from my chalet.

What attracts me was the long stalk and bracts of this particular plant. The brown bracts are indeed a novelty. The flowers are tiny yellow and are at the very tips of the bracts.

Arrangement #4

Immediately I placed a stalk in the glass container. Then while walking back to my chalet I came across a spray of Plumeria rubra ( pink frangipani). I thought the composition would do well with a spray of pink flowers to create delight in the air.

Little pineapples and fiery red hot gingers

From yesterday's pick, I have retained the red ginger, albeit a a cut shorter. Today I think I'll mix them with a dwarf species of the common pineapple.

In the wild, this dwarf pineapple species produces tiny fruits which I think are very decorative . Here's a small clump just outside the front door of my country home , I called 'my chalet'.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fiery Red Ginger

This I consider as the simplest and easiest way to display the red hot colours of the ginger. Just two stalks and a glass container would make me a bright morning. Happy to be back again!

Sunday Drive

Left Kuching around 9.30 am and arrived Bintulu at 7.30 pm in relative darkness. On Monday morning( 16 June) checked our garden surroundings which we left about three weeks ago. What intrigues me was this clump of red ginger welcoming me home. By late morning I had an idea for my next post.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Of Sea Cycas and Heliconia

I am extremely attracted to heliconias for the simple reason that their bracts are very colourful , firm and relatively lasting as cut flowers. Thus this morning I was hunting for heliconias in my garden for my first flower arrangement. Below is the result.

The green fronds are from the sea cycas plant or what locals here call 'pakis laut'. They have been given an extra cut to match the size of the glass container and the heliconias.

An inspiring morning workout

This is where it all began. I was pruning the fronds of this sea cycas ( cycas rumphii) this morning at our front garden lot, when out of the blues a thought zapped through my mind. Cut Flowers. Blogging about cut flowers. Blogging about flower arrangement. Cut flowers from your immediate environment. Flower arrangement materials within walking distance round and about your house. And to make it interesting why not blog about the cut flowers arrangement on daily basis? Couldn't resist the temptation. Thus the birth of this blog, today Saturday, 14th June,2008. I am glad to celebrate this Father's Day with this blog..He..he..he