Thursday, September 25, 2008

Intellectual Flowering

Arrangement # 100
I was strolling around and about my garden this afternoon after spending a fruitful half morning of cleaning up my gardening store.  Next to where I was working this vigorous climber called the trumpet flower ( Bignonia magnificia) greeted me in colours of purple. The flowers are bell-shaped and in my garden it never stops to exhibit its flowers throughout the year. I have planted it to climb over the netting of my mini aviary.  What wonderful flushes of purple against a dark green mass of leaves. And what does purple reminds one?  Well for me it was my university's royal colour, the University of Pulau Pinang which later was renamed Universiti Sains Malaysia. Those were the days ( 1971-1973) when I felt extremely stimulated intellectually. You can say it as my era of intellectual flowering.
With a bunch of the trumpet blooms in my hand, I strolled again to search another to make a crowd. What a delightful surprise I got from the climbing oleander which I planted about two months ago. The climbing oleander ( Strophanthus gratus) has just flowered and I know that this is the first bloom ever to be produced from this only plant I bought from the Kuching flower market quite a while ago in my Bintulu garden. The white flower of the climbing oleander has a rosy purple tint to its petals. Finally to add accent to the display I added the colourful orangy and reddish bracts  of the heliconia latispatha and the heliconia psittacorum species.  Happy to recall of my youthful pursuits in the second year of University of  Pulau Pinang 's establishment,  I dedicate this arrangement to ...My Intellectual flowering. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Red Hibiscus, White Ginger and Wild Banana

Arrangement # 99
It's the Queen of the tropical flowers. The red hibiscus ( Hibiscus rosa- sinensis) is Malaysia's national flower. I saw them a plenty at my garden this afternoon. Besides the red variety I came across too the light orange variety, that is two tiered with one smaller bloom hanging down from the bigger flower like a Japanese lantern. The latter variety has a dark red tinge colouring at its core.
Hibiscus do not release any fragrance. But no worry. I plucked a stalk of the white ginger ( Hedychium coronarium) and more stalks of the white gardenia flowers ( Gardenia jasminoides variegated) to add a lure of scent to the presentation.
Finally I am thinking of making the display look tropical. Therefore I took the variegated wild banana leaves to provide the exoticness to the presentation and placed them in a Sarawak flower vase. This vase has the native Iban design carved on it.  As a signature to the presentation, I let the vase sit on a young coconut frond. That's it, the tropical look is there. Imagine swaying coconut leaves, distant shores ( of course beaches too) and nature in abundance. A perfect tropical getaway.
The Queen of tropical flowers now casts an impressive display of tropical sight seeing, a romance under the tropical skies and Oh! what I call ...ATropical Galore.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Passion to Die For

Arrangement # 98
First things first. The white caladium was just outside my front door in all its glorious white colour.  It is no wonder that sometimes people refer to it as Angel's Wings (Caladium bicolor). It's large white leaves have green veins radiating from the center. I thought for once to display just white colours, white leaves and white flowers.  Therefore I got hold of the satiny flowers of the white ginger ( Hedychium coronarium) next.  But as I reflected upon it, what are the white corpuscles without its red blood companion? Thus enter the Red Ti ( cordyline terminalis)  leaves to make passion reverberate in my veins . I realised all to soon that the passions must not be too extreme. A slight moderation would be better for my heart. Again I make way for the sassy pink bracts and the orangy heliconia latispatha bracts to weave their way into the presentation.
A pure white and blood red composition I thought would be well remembered in the title...
A Passion to Die For.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Batik on leaves

Arrangement  # 97
A late afternoon walk around my garden today revealed the gorgeous blooms of the ixora flowers.  I came across two shrubs of the species. One was the orangy variety and the other light yellow in colour.
When I was looking for some matching green foliage, my certain mind was moved or rather changed by a striking clump of a caladium hybrid  which has batik-like effects on its leaves. I mean the cracks and accidental lines and spots reminded  me of batik painting  technique. I wonder why Malaysians haven't name this after their batik craft. I for one would like to propose a common name for it..why not pink batik?.
The ixora coccinea, sometimes called jungle flame or jungle geranium, have tubular flowers. The yellow variety is also referred to as ixora lutea. Both grow abundantly in my garden.
Next I needed  a plant that will provide drama , movement and signature to the display. My choice ,if you have guessed it correctly is a string of heliconia sassy pink bracts which I made to circle around the perforated flower vase.
To promote the use of the caladium hybrid and the Malaysian batik art, I propose today's composition title ...Pink Batik. 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fragrant White Flowers

Arrangement # 96
White fragrant flowers. This seems to be the theme today. I collected blooms of the  gardenia, plumeria and spider lily and have them tugged inside a yellow drinking glass, the ones you can plenty at the RM2 shop nowadays. I chose yellow to reflect the yellow core of the plumeria bloom.
Then I accentuate the height to match the over topping spider lily flowers by inserting the colourful orange bracts of the heliconia.  Composition-wise I am happy and would leave the display at that. Pure and simple , without any pretensions. All the blooms chosen are fragrant, some ooze out a sweet soft scent like the spider lily (Hymennocaullis caribaea) while the plumeria ( Plumeria obtusa) sometimes called the Great Frangipani produces a strong and quite heady scent.
Today people in Malaysia plant the great frangipani in modern contemporary gardens to get back to traditional roots and for the aroma therapeutic effects it is believed to offer. For example, soak the gardenia and jasmine flowers in a towel and place it around your head, in no time your headache is forgotten. Hmmm....can try that. For the perfumery I have at my room right now, I name the composition...Perfume Blossoms.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Golden net bush and hibiscus hybrids

Arrangement # 95
I stumbled upon the golden net bush plant late this afternoon around 6.00 pm. at my garden.   The evening rays heightened the yellow colour of its young leaves. The golden net bush or golden eranthemum ( Pseuderanthemum recticulatum) has golden stems and and bright yellow leaves  with a web of green veins. The flowers are white with spotted violet at its center.
How would I display its attractive blooms?
Without much thinking further, my eyes were caught by the soft colours of a hibiscus hybrid plant bearing light orange petals and brilliant red at its core. This variety is unique because the flowers seem to hang from slender stalks and they come in two tiers. These two flowers then became my choice of the day.
How would I display them?
Back at the chalet, I noticed the perforated green flower vase was empty. That's it. But before they go in there, I realised that I need a signature to the display.  Therefore I looked for the colourful stem of heliconia sassy pink, removed its bracts to expose it flowers and let them popped out of the perforated vase.
Finally I threw in a single red hibiscus bloom for good measure and lay it on a banana place mat. Done.
Now comes the hardest part. What should I name the composition?
Hibiscus flowers do not last long as  cut flowers. Probably a day at the most. That gives me an inkling for today's presentation. Why not call it...Just tonite, my darling.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The spiders and the gingerly hot

Arrangement # 94
Three blooms of the spider lily ( Hymenocaullis caribaea), two flower spikes of the red ginger ( Alpinia purpurata) and a variegated cordyline species make today's presentation.
Today's composition combines red hot energy of the scarlet ginger and the subtle freshness of the spider lily. Thus would like to call this composition....Just as hot.
P.S.The inspiration was this encounter below:
Have spiders perched on these evergreen leaves? These spider lily blooms show their delicate spider-like petals. Spider lilies should be cut and placed inside the living room because they ooze out a softly sweet fragrance. Time taken: 5.30 pm, the U- turn about to reach my farm, Laman Kambatik, Bintulu.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Third Look at Dillenia

Arrangement # 93
This display reminds me of how we often overlook at our local beauties.  We take them for granted. They flower freely. They are always there when you want to look at them. You wrap food with their leaves and let our children have fun with their fruits.Charlie was impressed.  
His second look was at Melastoma.  Locally known as ' senduduk' or Straits Rhododendron ( Melastoma malabathricum) its purplish- black fruits attract the birds and the boys who like to stain their tongue with their fruits.  Thus the Greek word for 'melastoma' to mean 'black mouth'.
Charlie's third look was at Dillenia.  She's every where.By the roadsides, the waysides and the most unlikely places - the disturbed areas. Her cabbagy  leaves are used to wrap food and fermented rice.  Her fruits when ripe let loose red-fleshed seeds that are the prime target of the feathered species.  Her name dear Charlie is the 'Shrubby Simpuh' or 'Simpuh Air'( Dillenia suffruticosa )
Charlie is now a confirmed admirer.  He's takes great love to looking up these beauties. In the story above, the greenery ( the envy? ) is provided by 'creeping Charlie' ( Pilea nummulariifolia )
All good things must come to an end. no matter what.
The two beauties looked back  at Charlie and with the sweetest of smile uttered the two cutest words...
Recognize me ? 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lovers at Heart

Arrangement # 92
Red is the colour of my true love's heart.  Wonderfully wild and passionate . Red as in the vibrant colours of the cordyline terminalis often times referred as Red Ti in Hawaii and elsewhere called as 'firebrand'.
Our hearts are plunged into the well of passionate desires and longing.  Of loving and craving.
When our hearts are entwined as lovers do, we felt no pain. 
Only hope that such a moment will come and never end.
No regrets. I call today's poetic presentation...Lovers at Heart.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ebony, Scarlet and Sassy Senoritas

Arrangement # 91
The exotic bracts of calathea and heliconia sassy pink are joined by the fiery hot scarlet ginger ( Alpinia purpurata).
To provide interest and as conversational piece I  lay down the pendulous stem of the sassy pink on the calathea leaf place mat.  This kind of flower arrangement should last for a week as a table decoration. In many writings I do come across mention of heliconia sassy pink as 'sexy pink'. Between these two I still do not know the authoritative name. Either way both'sassy' and 'sexy' sound well and good. What about calling the above composition....S.S. mean Sexy Senoritas ?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Calathea and Sassy Pink composition - 2

Arrangement # 90
My fascination with the brown calathea flower spikes and the long pendulous pink bracts of heliconia sassy pink continues. I grab hold of my good old rotten tree trunk, tested and seasoned over time, and plunge the terminal flower spikes into its gasping hole. Had one pendulous stem half circle the upper storey and another at ground zero. Thought that was easy.
With a bit of light effects and alakazam...a composition is born. Upon reflection, I call this composition simply.....Return to My Roots.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Calathea and Sassy Pink composition-1

This week we are busy at the farm clearing the initial young fruits of the oil palm, merely a cultural practice to encourage later fruits to be bigger and more even ripening. On one of those rounds I met across a clump of this calathea lutea. The broad leaves of this plant are used by the local people here especially the Kelabit to wrap rice when they go for day long journeys to neighbouring villages  mostly on foot. What is equally attractive about this plant are the terminal flower spikes where the brown bracts cover insignificant yellow flowers.
Arrangement # 89
In the above example the calthea leaf, some 60 cm wide and  80cm long , is used as place mat for the glass vase. Here I crowd the calathea spikes and let them arrange themselves in irregular upright form like in the wild.
To make the display wild and tropical and exotic I lay the pendulous stem of the heliconia sassy pink around the base of the vase. That seems easy.
Finally to create a signature to the composition, I remove some of the sassy pink bracts to expose the partly hidden flowers and circle it around the calathea spikes.
I thought that's looking good.  Therefore am pleased to give this name to the composition....That's Looking at You Kid.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pure Gossip

Arrangement # 88
Imagine a girl, a lady or a woman so lovely, kind-hearted and pure of heart as adorable as the gardenia!
She is beyond superlatives. Her qualities radiate as much as her fragrance gravitate one towards her.
She is the topic of conversation.  Everyone in the kingdom wants to know  what she eats, who she's with, what she has to say about anything. She's being circulated throughout the blogs of the world.
Hot topic. Hot conversation.Hot personality.
Is she real? Or just .....PURE GOSSIP?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wild Pineapple Fruits and Day Lilies

Arrangement # 87
Three fruits of the dwarf wild pineapple,one stalk of the pink canna hybrid,three stalks of the the day lily ( Hemerocallis) and three stalks of the heliconia latistapha make it to the table today.
Day lilies do not last long, perhaps a day or two. Slightly longer would be the canna flowers. But the heliconia latistapha would last the longest among the two mentioned earlier.
The wild pineapple fruit I add to suggest' fruitful days.' Yes, today despite me fasting, I did a lot of work at the farm and when I broke my fast this evening around 6.32 pm my sacrifice was well worth it. Sweetened and made more meaningful of course by the hard work put into it.
Without much ado, I declare today's composition...Fruitful Days.
( Note: This clump of heliconia latistapha gave me the inspiration for today's presentation)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Focus on the Plumeria Rubra

I have been observing the flowering stages of this pink frangipani for the last couple of days.  I anticipated  I would soon use it for the next cutting. Well today it was in relative full bloom. Therefore I rushed to get my secateurs and carefully made my priced cutting for the day.
Frangipanis normally refer to the pink variety of plumeria.  Scientifically this fragrant flowering species are called plumeria by mistake. That botanical name was given for the French botanist named P L U M I E R. But a mistake is a mistake. Instead "plumier" was spelled P L U M E R I A!.Thus to this day the name stays and is used to describe both the white variety ( Plumeria obtusa ) and the other colourful relatives like the sample above known as Plumeria rubra.
For today's presentation therefore the pink frangipani will assume center stage.
Arrangement # 86
Once my mind is decided to make the frangipani the center of appeal, it was easy to distribute its infectious beauty to the rest of the company. First goes the orangy red heliconia psittacorum, then the sassy pink heliconia. But to add freshness to the composition I threw a few young foliage  of a cordyline species. The freshness was accentuated by placing them against a banana leaf background like above.
Have you notice three tiny differences in the display above? Guess what, the background is ferro cement, the glass vase sits on an ordinary banana leaf unlike the first presentation where the wild banana leaves were used. Thirdly, the orangy heliconia has moved places. I did the above just for experimental reasons. ( sentimental me??) Having a perfumed presence as the central focus, I call this composition...A Fragrant Focus.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Best is Yet to Come

Arrangement # 85
Two yellow bamboo culms. From yesterday's presentation is retained the caladium, sassy pink and heliconia psittacorum. I add the calathea lutea in the above display to give the feeling of equal achievement. Two man ( or woman)  standing tall.
As we look around us,do not feel proud of our achievements because others could be even better.  Be thankful that you can contribute to make the little difference in people's lives. And you can mutiply it by the billions of lives on earth. By promoting prosperity around us  we accept the fact that we are a child of the universe, in a big cycle of change and renewal.
If the call is made to us, rise to the occassion, play our role to the best of our capability
knowing that all's well that ends well. Thus feeling philosophical today, I
call the above composition...The Best is Yet to Come.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bamboo Culm Compositions - 5

Arrangement # 84

The two yellow bamboo culms are cut staggered and so is the tiered arrangement of the caladium,sassy pink heliconia and finally the top of the deck heliconia psittacorum.

Now I am beginning to like the caladium hybrid pink foliage not merely for its magnificient coloured foliage but also its longevity as cut foliage.

Today is special. This morning I had a try at watercolour and decided to paint the caladium and the sassy pink . The result is on top of this post.
Being such a wonderful day( since I have not been painting for quite a while) , feeling relieved and released, I name this composition... Better Days to Come.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bamboo Culm Compositions - 4

In earlier compositions I used only one bamboo culm. In the ensuing compositions, I will add another to make a company. In the example below the lily, ginger lily and caladium hybrid support the heliconia psittacorum which forms the top storey in the display.

Arrangement # 83

By adding another taller piece of bamboo culm, I have provided height to the arrangement. The cascading heliconia sassy pink suggests movement and drama to the show. For the drama in our life and our living is but a stage in time, I call this composition...A Theatretical Display.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bamboo Culm Compositions - 3

Arrangement # 82
This will be the last display using a single bamboo culm. In the next few displays I will try to use two culms in the arrangement. Here I have endeavoured to make the culm more interesting by pulling out fine strips of the bamboo skin thus revealing some vertical lines on the culm. Just one short stalk of heliconia sassy pink and a couple of strong red and cream yellow bracts of heliconia psittacorum will be fine .
The presentation is made interesting with the banana leaf as background. giving it a rich tropical touch .
I like then to call this composition...Tropicana.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bambo culm compositions - 2

My attempt today is to combine two species of heliconia inside a yellow bamboo culm. The upright orangy-red heliconia psittacorum and the cascading heliconia sassy pink. To balance the two contrasting movements I threw in four leaves of the pinkish caladium hybrid with green edges.
Now I am thinking of a beautiful young maiden, slender in form and her pink face blushes as she is teased.
The red hibiscus add much vigour and gushes of blood as she put on the sweetest smile a man will die for.
Arrangement # 81

For such a memorable moment in the life of the young maiden, I dedicate this composition to ....Blushing Maiden.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bamboo Culm Compositions - 1

Early this morning I came across this beautiful yellow bambo clump. The golden yellow colour of the stem strikes me as something unique and of good presentational value.
Having cut one long stem from the clump, I then cut it into shorter lengths for use as a display container like below.
Arrangement # 80
I am pretty impressed by the gorgeous golden yellow colours of the bamboo culm and thought it needed some strong colours to match. The ones closest to where I was working were the bright red foliage of the Coryline terminalis or popularly known as 'Red Ti' in Hawaii, and some light purple blooms of bignonia.
The colours being strong and vibrant had much tension in them as they are placed together.
The upright character of the Red Ti seems to accentuate the dynamic tension between it and the drooping bignonia flowers. This calls for an immediate resolution.
I found the soft and mild green leaves of a fern nearby to be the saviour of theday.
Feeling resolved, I would like to call this composition....Dynamic Resolve.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Parrot Flower

Arrangement # 79
I am feeling not too well today. Probably due to the my body not yet in tune with the fasting routine which started yesterday( 1/8) Anyway my spirits as usual are always on a high note.
A walk up the hill this morning convinced me of the richness of heliconia psittacorum or parrot flower.
It has a narrow sized bract when compared with the stricta or sassy pink varieties to mention but a few of the heliconias with large sized bracts. The one I have selected this morning has orange bracts.
I cut the stalk long and then placed them in a plastic mineral bottle( recycle?) with the top section cut to let in seven stalks of the parrot flower. Added a tiny solution of green syrup to the water to get some colours to the plant container.
Today's composition is just plain in order to show the rich orange colours of the heliconia psittacorum.
Thus, the title of today's composition...Plain Parrot.