Thursday, November 27, 2008

About Bracty Beauties

Arrangement # 122
The month of November is very wet in this part of the world. As a result many types of flowering shrubs will not be in their best. Thus it is good to have a mixture of plants that do well in the rainy months as well as the hot and sunny periods when the rains are less frequent. One such species is the heliconias. Today I did not see any good blooms except those of the heliconias. Therefore I scouted for the parrot flowers ( heliconia psittacorum) and found two varieties. One close relative , the heliconia latispatha with its green tips exhibited herself very well and I thought why not? I had the sassy pink twist around the rest of the orange and yellow bracts and finally let the sassy pink terminal bract come out straight from the glass vase while the rest of the company followed in unison. To add more lustre and warmth to the display, I added the Red Ti ( cordyline terminalis) leaves which I rolled back to give a certain artistry to the show. "Wait", cried the the banana terminal bracts of which I had two varieties. One in pink and the other in deep purple. They too joined today's composition as added interest. It is a day of bright colours and hues despite the gloomy overcast of November. Thus the title of today's composition.....Bracty Beauties.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Red Ginger, Red Ti , Sassy Pink and Seven Golden Candlesticks

Arrangement # 121
I like the glow of the Red Ginger,
The attractive leaf of Red Ti,
Orange bracts of Seven Candlesticks,
The pink of Sassy Heliconia,
Together in a posy,
With ripe colours of rambutan,
And the hot spicy chilli.
I name today's composition... Warm Feeling.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Brilliant Yellow Allamandas

Arrangement # 120
What is so special about allamandas? They have large yellow trumpet-like flowers ( Allamanda cathartica) , looking golden and confident at any time of the day. They are free flowering here in the tropics of course.  They form bunchy flowers that if planted en masse are indeed eye catching. Despite their attractive appeal, allamandas aren't scented.  But never mind. On my way back to the farm this afternoon after sending my worker off from work, I pushed the brake pedal hard to stop next to an allamanda shrub which was in full flowering and enjoyed a moment of life's precious offering. I took the secateur ( which I always keep one in my car just in case) and right away made seven cuttings.
Back at the chalet I took a brown clay vase and carefully pushed them into its large mouth. There you are. No pretense. Plain yellow flowers and a matching round short vase did the trick. Much pleased  with the presentation, today's title shortly zapped across my grey matter.......Golden Brilliance. 
Further notes:
There are four kinds of yellow-flowered  allamandas in Malaysia and one special kind that has mauve flowers( allamanda violacea) To me allamandas make great cut flowers especially when their leaves are kept intact, thus providing much freshness to the display and green contrast to the bright yellow flowers.  They are very easy to propagate. Just make a cutting from its woody branch.  Plant them at sunny locations of your garden.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Glow of Plumeria Obtusa flowers

Arrangement # 119
The large white flowers of the plumeria or Great Frangipani ( plumeria obtusa) stood elegantly above its green glossy leaves had me captivated as I walked pass them in my garden today.  A small breeze made them sway in the wind. I looked at them twice, thrice and decided  to make them the subject of today's display.
I held the flowers' stalk firmly inside the small glass vase by wrapping the stalk with the Red Ti ( cordyline terminalis ) leaves as if it was clad in a 'sarong'. The Red Ti leaves stole much limelight from the pure white and silky colours of the plumeria. Therefore to soften its strong fiery presence I added in the stiff orange and lighter red bracts of the parrot flowers ( heliconia psittacorum).
To conclude today's presentation I name the composition...Glow with Me.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wild Banana leaves, Red Ti ,Heliconia latispatha and Ixoras

Arrangement # 118
I have today met two variegated leaves that inspired me  to do today's presentantion.  First, the wild banana leaves of the musa  violascens and the light red to red and dark bronze leaves of the Red Ti ( cordyline terminalis) In order to match the flaming image of the Red Ti, in goes the dark orange to pastel red of the heliconia latispatha bracts and flowers ( slightly hidden).  I still keep yesterday's fan -shaped leaf of the licuala grandis and made it to wrap half of today's materials.  The licuala or fan palm leaf are green and plaited and toothed along the edge.  Nowadays it is remarkably easy to propagate this species from seeds because being popular as a tropical short palm it is made very available in many  a decent nursery.
To provide a middle focus to the display, I added the jungle geranium ( Ixora coccinea ) with its small scarlet tubular flowers in a ball-like cluster.  Another species I collected today is the Ixora chinensis var. lutea, having light yellow tubular flowers.
Having had the variegated wild banana leaves as a backdrop to the brilliant red and oranges in front, I reckon the best title for today's composition is....Jungle Flame

Friday, November 21, 2008

Purple Bignonia, White Caladium and Red Ti

Waking up early today, my spirits were lifted when I saw these purple flushes of the bignonia magnifica. Its bell-shaped mauve pink flowers were a good morning gesture after the heavy rains at pre-dawn over by my eco-farm.  Here I have planted them close to the aviary and trained them to climb over it for shade and much needed colour.
Then this spectacular leaf of the white caladium ( caladium X candidum ) had me excited over the opportunity of teaming it with the bignonia blooms. This caladium is exceedingly big i.e. about 40 cm long and 30 cm wide.  Its pure white leaf with green veins is a beauty in contrast.
Below are the stages of today's composition.
Arrangement # 117
With the help of the showy and bright light red leaves of the Red Ti ( cordyline terminalis) I have accentuated the ambience around the mauve pink colours of the bignonia to a higher level of brightness.  Then I used the leaf of the licuala palm as table mat for the glass bowl which is hidden by the white caladium leaf. In this particular instance I have sunk the center of the caladium leaf into the glass bowl together with the bignonia  blooms and Red Ti leaves.
Feeling happy and pleased, I name this composition...Today's Brightness.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You are My Family- Clerodendrum

Arrangement # 115
This is a tale of two clerodendrum species which I have ready stock at my garden.  First the climbing species with its white calyces and blood-red corollas called the Bleeding Heart Vine ( Clerodendrum thomsonae). 
In the above display I have included the slightly older calyces which appear dull pink in colour but nevertheless attractive to me because they stay for months on the stems before they die away looking brown. The Bleeding Heart vine comes from West Africa.  In the above presentation, I have teamed up the orange  bracts of the parrot flower ( heliconia psittacorum ) and the red hibiscus ( Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) to the bleeding heart for variety, colour and contrasting form. As usual I employing a simple trick of wrapping the stems of the flowers in Red Ti ( cordyline terminalis) leaves such that they appear neat in the glass vase.
I would like to name the above composition ....Torn Between Two Lovers.
Arrangement # 116
There is no competition in the above display.
There are from the same family.  Here I placed the pagoda flower ( clerodendrum paniculatum) overtopping the bleeding heart. The pagoda flower has a conical flower head that displays hundreds of small red flowers.  It is native to South East Asia and that means Sarawak, Borneo.  Thus it really surprises me why people do not use this plant in urban public landscaping or homes. Its flowers are frequently visited by butterflies.
I have attempted to display a gradation of colour in the above presentantion.
For being rather forgotten ( because we take it for granted) and now seldom seen I would like to name the above composition as .....Love Me MORE.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In the Company of Heliconias

Arrangement # 114
Is it something about the rain, that today I saw lots of blooms in the garden? This cold and wet November is something to be thankful , for the leaves and flowers seem to be flourishing in the garden today.
The showy bracts of heliconias are there forever stealing my attention. I collected just three samples of the parrot flowers ( heliconia psittacorum) in shades of golden yellow, bright orange and pastel red. Then I strolled for some stronger colours. Two blooms caught me stunned. One a fiery red ginger ( alpinia purpurata) and the climbing oleander ( strophantus gratus) with its pale rosy purple tint flowers.
Without much ado I placed all of them in a tall glass vase and had the long pendulous pink bracts of the heliconia 'sassy pink' twist around the strongly coloured company of heliconias,ginger and climbing oleander.
Rounding off this presentation I am glad to name it....Circle Game.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cassia alata or the Seven Golden Candlesticks

(The Cassia alata plant is in the center of the picture above)
At my eco-farm I have planted from seeds the Seven Golden Candlesticks plant ( Cassia alata ) or Gelenggang in Malay.  By about one year's time they have grown between 2-3 meters high.  This tall shrub or alternatively you can call it a small tree, loves damp conditions especially near streams and disturbed areas. It is native to tropical America but grows wild in Malaysia.
I have purposely planted it in my eco-farm for the main reason that it is exceedingly difficult to find them even along roadsides or villages these days. Well, you can say it's my small attempt at conservation.
What I find interesting about this plant is its attractive orange bracts and yellow flowers . The flower buds are covered with orange bracts which fall when the yellow flowers open.  The leaves of this plant are used for treatment of fungal infections.
Arrangement # 113
For today's display, I went to the stream nearby to collect two branches with inflorescences.Then I  scouted for matching yellow bracts of the parrot flower and green leaves of the 'pandan' shrub for special effects and accent.  For being so beautifully wild yet eye-catching I name today's composition...WILD THING.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Fragrant Great Frangipani

Arrangement # 112
In ten minutes can you disappear and come back with a composition?
Well this afternoon I took that challenge. With the decisive secateur in hand and a mind that said "Yes, Can Do" I dashed into the garden outside. A nice bunch of plumeria blooms ( plumeria obtusa) and interchangeably referred to as the Great Frangipani became my first target. Quickly I remembered the many banana bracts around and thought one would do fine . To add just another sexy or sassy touch for that matter, a stalk of the heliconia 'sassy pink 'joins the merry party ( For me at least). That's it composition done. I've come back in ten miuntes as promised.
The title.......Sassy Fragrance.
In Malaysia, remember not to present a dear friend with the Great Frangipani flower inspite of its marvellous fragrance and subtle qualities. The Malays call it 'Bunga Kemboja' and is grown mainly at temples, mosques or graveyard sites. Its connection to the metaphysics and spiritual world is most acknowledged. Lest your friend misinterpret your message, your gift of meaningful perfume might mean your desire for him or her to vaporise earlier than sooner to the spiritual world.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gardenia augusta or Cape Jasmine

Arrangement # 111
Apparently my camera was not its normal self this afternoon. The picture above is possible after many editing attempts.Hah!. Anyway, my focus today is the white, large and fragrant flowers of the common gardenia( Gardenia augusta or Cape jasmine).
Even as late as 5.30 pm I could find fresh blooms at many a shrub around my chalet today.  Having gathered enough, I cut a few bracts of the calathea lutea and recycled yesterday's heliconia bracts to make today's presentation.
The interesting thing about the gardenia is that it is supposed to be originated from the Cape of Good Hope ( Africa) thus its name Cape Jasmine.  However it is also native to China and introduced to this part of the world, thus popularly known as 'Bunga Cina' in Malay, meaning Chinese Flower.
However for me from the many synonyms, my favourite is to refer this plant as the Cape Jasmine because in today's world of aroma theraphy the jasmine fragrance is always a better brand name.
Thus, my title for today's composition....My Jasmine.

Monday, November 10, 2008

In Parrot- like Fashion

Arrangement # 110
A collection of three varieties of the parrot flower ( Heliconia psittacorum) makes today 's presentation.  The bracts are of various colours - orange, deep yellow to light golden yellow and one particular variety  much to my liking has pastel pink bracts with orange flowers and green tips. The stems of the inflorescence are wrapped in Red Ti leaves ( cordyline terminalis) to make the presentation neat and have red colours reflect in the vase.  The bright red petals of the Red Ginger ( Alpinia purpurata) adds vibrancy and a small statement to the display.  Thinking of what people say about learning things by mere copying or blind following, I would like to name this composition as ... Parrot like Fashion.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Red Ti, Golden net bush, Red Ginger and Parrot Flower

Arrangement # 109
I am still not over with my experiments using the Red Ti ( cordyline terminalis) leaves. Here I fold them and held in place with the aid of staples. When placed in a glass you can see them clearly and glowing.
Three of these leaves, slighly bent gives the impression of open arms. Into the open embrace I plunge in the parrot flowers ( helionia pssitacorum), a Red Ginger terminal spike and the yellowish young leaves of the golden net bush.
The warm exuberance of this presentation makes me call this composition...Warm Embrace.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Red Ginger, Bleeding Hearts and Red Ti

Arrangement # 108
I thought I have successfully utilise the beauty of the red ti ( cordyline terminalis) leaves in the above display.
For one thing,the leaves when wrapped around the flower stems or stalks of the red ginger ( alpinia purpurata) and the bleeding hearts (  clerodendrum thomsonae) makes the presentation neat especially through the transparent glass container or vase.
Secondly, the top end section of the sword-like leaves when bent add an interesting feature and artistry to the show.
Here the bleeding hearts flowers, the just recently plucked ones appearing more whitish than the slightly aged ones in mild red colours, breaks the symmetry of the display in a refreshing sort of way.
The height of the compositon is achieved by the exotic tiered formation of the red ginger's petals which I think provides much zest and appeal to the whole show.
All the Reds, please stand up!.....for that's the title of today's composition.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Heliconia 'sassy pink'

The heliconia sassy pink variety is my choice today. This variety grows abundantly in my garden of which I can making cuttings on daily basis. My special liking about it lies in its pastel pink bracts looking like lobsters claws, its pendulous dark pink to red stem and creamy white flowers with green tips. For this presentation I remove some bracts to expose its true flowers which are less significant than its showy bracts.
Below are variations of a common theme, the sassy pink against a seasoned piece of drift wood.
Arrangement # 107
(in three variations)
The long pendulous stem is very versatile and does not seem to break under pressure. Here it winds to a loop.
In the above example, the terminal bracts points downwards at 6 oclock.
Above, the terminal bracts points at 5 oclock. The rest of the long lobster claws are pointing in various directions, thus making the display more dynamic, eye-catching and dramatic.
When left hanging like a pendulum in its natural state, the sasy pink heliconia looks beautiful and majestic.
However when arranged in diverse angles, it displays much drama, excitement and surprises. Therefore I an inclined to name the above compositions as....Sassy Movements.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Banana bracts for flower display

Been watching the banana inflorescence recently. After a while once the fruits are relatively bigger, the bracts fall off. They curled up and I thought of its use as 'flower boat'. Below are my attempts.

Arrangement # 106

Here a slightly new bract becomes a set for the cut fowers.
A slightly older bract is placed onto the bigger one and is rolled in to so that a heliconia bract can be inserted into it.
Two rolled in bracts placed inside an open bract.
The title of today's composition....Put on the Banana Bracts

Saturday, November 1, 2008

To be equal or be fair? Is the question.

Arrangement # 105
How judgemental can you be? Well today, my attention is focussed on three kind of flowers.
On the top echelon are the parrot flowers ( heliconia psittacorum) recognizable by their narrow bracts of orange or pale red colours and one of them above has red flowers with green tips.
The middle rank is occupied by the golden netbush ( pseuderanthemum recticulatum) which have an intricate web of golden veins. But I what I like most about it is the golden yellow colours of its young leaves.
On the lower level is a collection of two fragrant white flowers of the gardenia (gardenia jasminoides) and jasmine ( cape jasmine) respectively.
It is almost impossible to give equal emphasis to everything or every person. I mean, each thing has its own unique qualities and positions or stations . Perhaps the act of allocating ranks is a natural thing in life. Therefore it is no point to give equal treatment. In the final analysis it is the fairness of treatment that counts, especially when it comes to dealing with people or personalities. Probably each according to his or her own needs is the best axiom. Therefore my composition today is called....Above all, Be Fair