Saturday, July 11, 2009

Outside, Inside

Early this morning, I took time to walk around the garden in Kuching and did a couple of clearing up job at the side garden especially areas along the south fence. My efforts were rewarded well. The Blood Banana ( Musa zebrina) at the front garden seems to grow into a beautiful small clump now( see inset). I have constantly been watching its growth to ensure that any unruly adventure by the clump to surrounding areas be checked in time.
Below can be seen two pictures showing some of the planting details I incorporated to provide initially a green and colourful screen to the black metal fencing material. With my secateurs in hand and in rapid succession I took cuttings of young blood banana leaves, the multi-painted coleus leaves, the pendulous red bracts of the 'Firecrackers' ( Heliconia rostrata) , parrot flowers and finally the pink hybrid canna. I placed all of them inside a glass container that's was being held inside a tiny 'tambuk' or the local Bidayuh basket. Then I had them inserted inside a special decorative piece - a lamp shade, to hold the plants together for the show.
I made two versions for today's arrangement. One is for outside and the other for an inside arrangemment. Am I lost for a title? Well, guess what my mind said just now....Colour Outside, Colour Inside.

At the centre of attraction is the Dracaena marginata 'tricolour', being greeted by the parrot flower amidst a chorus of coleus and spider lily.

The 'Firecrackers' ( Heliconia rostrata ) and parrot flowers in the background .

Arrangement # 148

Outside Version

Inside Version

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hail to the Heliconias

Today's pictures were taken in Bintulu and I'm posting them from Kuching. The reason being, I was too busy with preparations to go to Kuching that little time was available to prepare for this post in Bintulu.
Today ( 1st July) I'm back in Kuching after a month long stay in Bintulu.
Today's show comes in a progression. I have used three types of heliconias. Stage 1 - the yellow bracts of parrot flower is set against the green leaves of the lady's palm. Stage 2 - the green tips and orange colours of the Heliconia latispatha join the crowd. Stage 3 - the red 'Firecrackers' ( Heliconia rostrata) finally tops the show.

Stage 1

Stage 2
Stage 3 - as the final arrangement.....Arangement # 147.....Hail to the Heliconias.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wild and Pasionate

Today the Trumpet Flower ( Bignonia magnifica) were in rich splendour as they reach over the aviary and onto the adjacent trees. I would like to team them with the colourful leaves of the Blood Banana. The purple flowers and dark red spots of the wild banana leaves seems to hold on to each other well, I thought.
For a simple arrangement I would name it.....Wild and Passionate.

Arrangement # 146

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pure white and common?

Is the Common Gardenia so common? Try to search for it in towns and there's a 90% chance that you'll hardly see it at all now. I used to see them in abundance in the sixties in village compounds or town houses. These days you'll be thankful if you can stumble upon one. For that reason I have planted scores of this shrub at my farm to keep it in ready stock. I plant it mainly for its scented pure white flowers and its dark green leaves.

Arrangement # 145

I have tried to keep the theme fresh and green today. Thus I have matched the pure white flowers of the Common Gardenia ( Gardenia jasminoides) with eye- relaxing green colours of young 'pandan' leaves. Would love to name this composition simply .........Fresh, Young and Pure.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Red Lobster's Claws

I was thinning out some bushes at the vegetation island today when I bumped into a clump of heliconia strictas or red lobster's claws. The pleasant encounter gave me ideas for today's display.
Arrangement # 144
I was thinking if only these were real lobster's claws they would not stand a chance to look pretty. Probably will end at the cooking pot. Well, man or woman, cannot live by bread alone. Often we need need aesthetics to recognise God's majesty. So today I rest my soul in the warmth of nature's love as I am feeling pleased that my attempt to grow heliconias here as wild as possible has succeeded to surprise me. Without further ado, I say why not call this composition...S u c c e s s.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Matinee

Early this morning I was happy to notice the Creamfruit ( Roupellia grata) plant showing off its white flowers ( see inset). This plant was bought from Kuching a couple of months ago. When pruned the plant seems to grow into a beautiful shrub and may exhibit a climbing habit if left unchecked. To match it I gathered as many flowers and colourful bracts as I could.
On the list are the heliconias ( 4 varieties), gardenia ( 2 varieties) and the lilium or pink lily hybrid. Today's special I thought. Make the composition as colourful and striking as possible.

Arrangement # 143

Today being a Saturday, I would like to name the composition as ...Saturday Matinee.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Lady Blushing

There is so much of fragrance, sweet fragrance in the air today. I see the common gardenia or Cape Jasmine ( Gardenia jasminoides) and the Plumeria rubra var.acutifoloia throwing their scent to the wind. How could I miss this opportunity? Below is a closer view of the plumeria having smaller sized white petals flushed with yellow in the centre.
Like the gardenia, plumerias flower continuously. Their bunchy flowers are eye-catching .

Arrangement # 142

Having gathered the flowers of the gardenia and plumeria, I placed them inside a glass vase. To add greenery I threw in the variegated leaves of cordyline or 'Ti" plant as they are known in Hawaii. The pink colours of Lilium would provide much sparkle to the show. What would you say to a pretty girl in yellow, pink and white ? ......I would say "Wow, You're Pretty."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Colourful Bracts

In Bintulu now. After spending a month in Kuching we miss the garden flowers here.  Thus early this morning I made cuttings of heliconias, alpinias and crotons.  They were a magnificient show.  Alpinias are ornamental gingers that like semi-shade and its roots love rich and moist soil conditions.  A favourite of mine is the Red Ginger ( Alpinia purpurata) due to its attractive red or scarlet bracts.  Today I saw one inflorescence with a number of plantlets from which I normally propagate the plant apart from the usual way of splitting the rhizomes from the mother plant to mutiply its numbers.

Then I noticed the new variety of heliconia which  I brought from Kuching a few months ago producing red and yellow bracts different from others in my collection so far.  I have yet to find the common name for this species ( see below).

Today I attempt to make a composition in three stages as illustrated below.
Arrangement # 141  ( in 3 stages)

After adding three varieties of heliconias to the single red ginger I find the display lacking in accent.  Thus I added the multi-coloured, variegated, curled and twisted leaves of the croton.
I am settled for this simple composition and glasly name it .... Brilliant Bracts.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Two Hearts

Arrangement # 140

The south garden is shaping up well.  Today I made a cutting of the scarlet inflorescence of the Costus woodsonii ( see picture to the right).  The scarlet cones can last for a week or more and thus ideal as cut flowers.  Then I saw a blooming red rose.  It matched well with the scarlet colour of the costus.  Without thinking further I plunged both of them inside  yesterday's glass vase and thus recycled yesterday's variegated leaves of the Ctenanthe pilosa. It interesting to see the leaves still looking fresh today.  Such a simple and fast composition  deserves a rapid title I think.....Two Hearts 

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Full of Luck - Sepenuh-penuhnya!

Arrangement # 139

THe Malays call the Eurcyles amboinensis plant as 'Sepenuh' and is said to bring good luck especially when it flowers. Eurcyles amboinensis is also known as Proiphys amboinensis.  For one thing it is difficult to flower.  Conditions must be ideal. That must be it for the last one week!.  The weather in Kuching was hot yet it rained almost all evenings and there again was accompanied with thunder and lots of lightning effects.  Thus I have been enjoying the white flowers of this beautiful tropical lily plant.  Its wide heart-shaped leaves are dark green and glossy.  I managed to propagate about ten now vegetatively  i.e. splitting its tubers.  Today I decided to team it up with the magical white and green leaves of the Ctenanthe pilosa which is slowly growing into a big clump. The Ctenanthe is related to the 'maranta' and ' calathea' species. 
Today's composition look clean and simple, and would just call it....Plain Lucky.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lovely Pink and Orange Flowers

Today I noticed the cannas are looking good. Since about two months ago I have collected two varieties that I think are excellent for their colours and dwarf-like qualities. They are the pink and orange variety. Cannas love manure as fertiliser and since last month ago the heavy application has done a good job of producing healthy plants with stalks in heavy flowering as can be seen in the picture below.
Thus I had in mind early in the morning to make cuttings of them for today's display. What other plants should I add to the company? The brown bracts of the Calathea lutea looked wonderful to match with the brown vase. Then while walking around for another candidate the fragrant flowers of the pink frangipani stole my senses. In they go. The inset shows the brown vase displayed at the front garden.

View of South Garden (the front portion) with orange canna hybrid in the foreground.

Today, like most days of April and May the weather in Kuching is hot and sunny though it is very likely to rain here in the afternoon even in light showers. It does rain mostly at night too and all these occasional rains have made the plants this month healthy and strong. Other plants that are growing profusely in the garden right now are the multi-coloured foliage of the coleus of which I have collected about 12 varieties so far. Collecting these varieties in Kuching is not a problem at all because the flower market at Satok Sunday market has abundant supplies of them. This is peculiarly Kuching and is probably due to the fact that there are many protocol activities in Kuching that require ornamental plants for official functions. ( Note the colourful coleus foliage towards left of the pink canna above)
Arrangement # 138

In the above picture I have display the arrangement indoors.
The overall effect is lovely. Therefore would name this composition...Colour me Lovely.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Red Fountains in the Sunset

The various colours that are seen at the front garden is something to be admired. Hues of orange, red, yellow, white, brown and pink are in harmony with one another. Of special interest today is the deep brown colour of the fountain grass ( Pennisetum setaceum ). I've made some cuttings of its inflorescence from the front garden just now, and will marry it to cuttings of the spiral red flag ( Costus woodsonii ) , pink canna hybrid and the red lobster claw ( Heliconia stricta ).
It was just a few months ago that I started to plant the fountain grass in my garden mainly for its colour and of course its magnificent inflorescence's (resembling long fountain sprays) that are produced daily.
Arrangement # 137
The reddish brown colours of the fountain sprays, red lobster claws , scarlet cones of the spiral red flag and the pink canna petals seem to blush in a glowing atmosphere. The colours remind me of an evening sunset and therefore name today's composition ....Red Fountains in the Sunset....( Sounds familiar?)

At the south garden, closer to the fence I have also planted a small cluster of the fountain grass which is barely seen at the middle ground of the picture above.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Canna Stop Loving You

There are three varieties of cannas that I grow in my Kuching garden right now. There are in colours of pink, red and orange. Today I have just made a cutting of the pink canna. With a little bit of help from the two reliable heliconia varieties viz heliconia stricta and latispatha, a simple composition is done.
Would like to name it..... Canna Stop Loving You.

Arrangement # 136

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hot on Heels

It was an interesting afternoon just now. I walked through my collection of heliconias at the Heliconia Valley area at my eco-farm here in Bintulu. The red hot 'lobster claws' (Heliconia stricta) sent an appealing look I couldn't resist. I had planted many varieties of heliconias here and many have established and attuned themselves to the environment that they are able to provide me with dozens of colourful bracts on daily basis. A respectful tropical garden should now have at least 10 species due to the fact that most varieties are easily obtainable from many nurseries or flower markets in Sarawak. The good point about the Heliconia stricta is that it has a long shelf-life. Secondly being heliconias they attract wildlife like the humming birds or the sun birds which sip their nectar or eat their tiny fruits.
Arrangement # 135

Today I was very occupied with work on my nexart exhibition. The strong colours of the Heliconia strictas stimulated me to express my eagerness and determination to make the show a success . I've less than 27 weeks to do so. In quick successive steps I plucked and make cuttings of the Red Hibiscus ( Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), Red Ginger ( Alpinia purpurata),Parrot Flower( Heliconia psittacorum) and lastly the striking Heliconia 'Sassy Pink'. My mind ran so fast that before I finished the composition, the title just kept on flashing my grey matter....Hot on Heels.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Geisha

I was taking a walk at one of the vegetation islands behind my chalet yesterday. I noticed a clump of Licuala palm ( Licuala spinosa) in its prime best. I took a stalk of its broad fan-shaped leaves for the day's cut flower composition.
Licuala palms grow best in humid and filtered light with rich humus cover for its roots. As such they are ideal plants under a forest canopy but not in potty environment. At my farm I find that the tallest ones are now reaching 4 meters. Locals here use the leaves to wrap food or thatch them to make sleeping mats or sun hats.

Their wedge-shaped leaves look fresh and deep jungle green in colour. To provide a refreshing contrast to the composition I add two stalks of the frangipani or plumeria flowers ( Plumeria obtusa).I like to use them for they are scented and the flowers will last for a couple of days when other buds slowly open up to the world. By cutting the leaves edges in a staggered formation I achieve the effect of movement.. The plumeria flowers being white and gentle in colour like the lily indicate gracefulness and the green leaves connotes growth . The slender glass vase and the outspread leaves look like a Japanese geisha in kimono. Thus, today's composition is called......The Geisha.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Red Ginger, Red Ti and Heliconias

Arrangement # 133

Having arrived Bintulu safely after a ten hours journey from Kuching by road on the 3rd of March, I felt inspired to do a little composition to indicate the free abundance of red colours in our garden today. From a clump of red ginger ( Alpinia purpurata) I cut a stalk of brilliant red terminal bracts arranged like a parasol. Next on the list were the heliconias, particularly the heliconia stricta with four emerging red lobster claw-like bracts and the orangy red heliconia latispatha with its characteristic green tips. To hold them firm in the glass vase I sandwitched the pastel red young leaves of the Cordyline terminalis or Red Ti and two variegated wild banana leaves ( Musa Hirta) . Since the materials were close at hand it took me less than 15 minutes to finish the composition. Fully satisfied, I call this arrangement....Welcome Back.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Parrot flower, Firebrand and Red Ginger

What would you do if your eyes are feasted by the young leaves of Red Ti ( Cordyline terminalis) and the superb yellow and light pink bracts of the Parrot flower ( Heliconia psittacorum) ? Amazed, I quickly run my thoughts on a composition that could display such vibrancy yet simple to compose.

First I fold up the Red Ti leaves ( sometimes referred to as 'Firebrand') and plunge them into the vase. Four of these fitted in just nicely into the small squarish glass vase. Next I inserted a long stalk of the Parrot flower and firmed it upright. I thought for a simple composition that would do. Some would pronounce it as minimalist. Less is more. However to add to today's glowing show I threw in the terminal infloresences of a Red Ginger ( Alpinia purpurata ) plant that grew nearby.

Arrangement # 132

My feelings swung upbeat. Yes, it is confirmed now that Red Ti leaves are a staple for the kambatik style floral arrangement. But they must be essentially young to exhibit its vibrant and luminous red colours. For today's composition , the blood in me says.....Call Me Hot.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pink flower plants

It has been a while, a long time really since I last posted in this blog. I am back at it again and this time around it gets restarted from Kuching. Our Kuching garden is shaping up slowly as can be seen from the images here. On the left the pink frangipani blooms
are a real treat to the eyes. This plant stock was taken from Bintulu when I first started to landscape the house garden here way back in 2007.

The red hibiscus and the sassy pink heliconia join to make a crowd. Since they are showing their best this morning, I'll make them the focus of today's show.

Arrangement # 131

Pinkgression 1 - the three pink sisters seem comfortable in the long glass vase. Just cut from the garden and looking fresh they all look pretty but there isn't the scent of a woman.

Pinkgression 2 - The fragrant pink frangipani blooms get introduced to the crowd. All seems to be part of the puzzle except one flower that takes a humble seat downstairs. For an excellent show in the pink of health I call this compsosition......Pretty Ladies in Pink.

CU of the composition from a bird's eye view.