Archive | May 2009

My Blooming Bromeliads

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Growing bromeliads is quite easy, since it is a low maintenance plant but it will take at  least a couple of years before you’ll be richly rewarded with a terrific bloom.  Bromeliads belongs to the family of monocot flowering plants.

I planted this one in a small pot two years ago.  Since the roots are not too invasive, they can be placed in small containers while growing and they can also be used as indoor plant decors.  The flower spikes dies after about a month and a new shoot of green leaves begin at the roots, that’s the time to transfer it to another pot.

Flame Trees

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In front of our house are several flame trees planted by our neighbor a few years ago.  They are now in bloom and I can’t resist taking a few shots of the bright orange flowers.  Seen from afar, they are really eye-catching.

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Flame trees are also known as Delonix Regia. They have fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of flowers.  They are used as ornamentals  and in some areas, they call them Royal Poinciana or simply Flamboyant.  Exceptionally striking are the trees’ vivid red/orange and yellow blooms.   A study on the plant says that it is invasive because its dense shade and root system prevent the growth of other plants beneath it.

At The Heart of Manila Seedling Bank

It’s been quite a while since I had the opportunity to visit this place. Back when my son, Josef was still learning how to drive, we used to come here just to take a look at the different plants displayed in the many stalls . One time, we found a cacti shop and I  was really, really overjoyed looking at the varieties of cacti  sold at the area.The Manila Seedling Bank is an environmental NGO which was founded in 1977. It’s a seedling producer and over the years so many plant stores have sprouted like mushroom here. I am a member of Green 2000 so I get a little discount when I buy seeds and garden supplies here.
You couldn’t help but admire the different herbs and medicinal plants grown here. There are so many varieties of Basil. Lavender, Mint, Sage, and Lemongrass.

These are Mints of different variety. How  I wish I have all of these in my own little garden.

In one of the stalls we visited, they have Lantana in varied hues, water plants,and  different vines. I was able to buy two pots of blue iris here.

We saw this garden center and I was elated to know that their plants are all labeled. I asked the owner if I could take some shots and she gladly said to go ahead. I promised her I’ll write something about it.

Bing bought a pot of Kampupot, a double layered bloom, this is what we usually know as sampaguita.

Marigold and caladiums mixed with spathiphyllum plants.

Hanging ferns in different varieties and sizes. Wish I could bring all of them home.

We visited Purificacion orchids. These are Phalaenopsis Orchids or simply called Butterfly orchids. They actually cost an arm and a leg and depending on what variety, they can go up as high as P800.00 per pot.
Amaryllis, anyone? They sell them for P150.00 per pot.

These are dwarf sanseverias.  Wow, I have plenty of  these, maybe  I ought to find a buyer someday. hehe…

The pink mums are so beautiful. I would end up with empty wallet if I buy these on a whim.

Mums in pots and in different colors.  So eye-catching!

Saw these beautiful blooms of variegated poinsettia but they were  labeled  “not for sale”.


Mums in wonderful colors.  They are sun-loving plants and they thrive well planted directly in well-irrigated soil.

Don’t you just wish you have these beautiful white Chrysanthemums in your own garden?

Showy plants, aren’t they?   I simply love their different hues.


I forgot the name of this bell-shaped flower, I think they also belong the the family of lilies.

Stargazers, they  are my favorite flowers and it takes quite a while for them to bloom.

The gardener says this is a new breed of petunia, its variegated flowers are simply beautiful.

They call her the Hydrangea lady or is she the Mums Lady?

These are Geraniums, bought a pot for my garden.

Can you see the water fountain here?  Nice, isn’t it?

I’ve been dreaming to buy these since I saw them at Caleruega, so I bought  four pots in different colors.  They are called Celosia.

So can you identify these plants?

Orchids and Lilies

Wow, so many colors of impatiens!

These are horsetail, used to have them in my garden.

Entrance to one of the gardens there.  It reminds me of a Secret Garden, you don’t know what is in store and discovering the place is simply a delight.

Hanging petunias in bloom!

Nice garden seats, how I wish I have one…

Hmm..simply wonderful!

Summer Harvest

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In our part of the world, the rainy season has set in, although technically it should still be summer.  It’s only the middle of May now but the past few days, we had monsoon rains and flash floods aside from the recent typhoon Emong which devastated some areas like Pangasinan and other surrounding towns.  Our town Mabini, which is located in the western part of Pangasinan has no electricity yet until now. And no electricity means no supply of water too.  It’s good that in our  house there, they still have this old reliable water pump connected from a concrete well which the family had been using for so many years now.

Here in  the city, the continuous rains for the past several days were beneficial of course  to some of our planted vegetables and perennial and annual plants in our small garden. The hubby made a trellis at the back of the house and planted some vegetables like squash, ampalaya, tomatoes and pechay. It’s always a thrill to see new shoots like this squash bud we saw lately,but you have to cross pollinate it with a male squash flower in order to grow.  He has also planted bonito ampalaya, those seemingly small ampalaya which are normally mixed with other veggies to make our famous pinakbet. Tomatoes are also in abundance although we only have about four tomato shrubs planted alongside some potted pechay.  Our two dwarf kalamansi trees  are bursting with fruits.  And it’s really so nice to grow organic plants like these, you are simply rewarded with fresh produce everytime you need it.

Wheat Grass Juice

Got a taste of this when we went to Frontera Verde Tiendesitas a few months ago. It tasted like grass of course but I didn’t know that it has healing properties and it is now promoted as immune system booster.

Wheat grass refers to grass grown indoors in trays for approximately ten days and is squeezed into fresh juice.  It is used primarily for therapeutic purposes. while the 60 + day old field grown grasses are primarily used for nutritional supplements.  I don’t know how effective this juice is in treating certain ailments but it was recently featured in the program Sweet Life.

According to research, wheat grass juice is 70% chlorophyll and its chemical composition closely resembles hemoglobin.  It is said to heal tissues, help purify the liver, improve blood sugar levels and help flush out accumulated toxins.

Cory Quirino wrote about it in her articles at Philippine Daily Inquirer.

http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/lifestyle/lifestyle/view/20080804-152627/Drink-wheat-grass-juice-to-boost-your-immune-system

Finding Peace in the Hills of Caleruega

Just recently visited Caleruega with my family last January 15-16, 2009. I have heard so much of this place from some friends who have been there on previous visits. I was as excited as a child when I saw it after more than two hours of traveling by car. It’s out of the way, alright, but it’s the seclusion of the place that makes it appealing. Staying overnight allowed us not just to see but to explore the place. Awesome! Beautiful! Serene! Peaceful! No words could exactly describe how I felt upon seeing the place finally after dreaming of it for quite sometime.

I spent few precious minutes alone at the Chapel of Transfiguration. God is everywhere, I know, but I felt His presence more in that place that very moment. It was truly soul-uplifting. I am an avid gardener so Caleruega is a paradise for me too. I’ve taken shots all those familiar plants and flowers in the various gardens of the place. I even chanced upon a gardener planting Salvia and I felt like digging my hands at the rich earth and touching the texture of the soil. It was a disappointment though that no one is allowed to visit their Nursery. My daughter took a shot of it from above and I was envious that they have several varieties of plants in their early stages of growth. Anyway, looking at the lush gardens and the different flowers in bloom truly gave me an inspiration to overhaul my own garden at home. There is a certain fulfillment in watching things grow. It’s the renewal of life at its best. Have you ever wondered that you just have to look at the flowers all around you and see how wonderful God made everything? Feel the texture of a petal and observe the combination of colors and you’ll simply be amazed. Trekking! Loving the mountain air and feeling the caress of the cold winds on your face. What more could you ask for? The hubby, my two kids and I went trekking, going up the highest hill beyond the hanging bridge. What a sight to behold! You would really feel you are close to nature and closer to God.

You can check the pictures I took of the place at this site:  Welcome, Let’s Share and Be Friends

The White Gardenia

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the lone gardenia shrub that I planted more than two years ago is finally in bloom.  Oh, oh, to smell the sweet scent of the gardenia flower!  One could say that gardenia has that truly intense fragrance which is a little better than the scent of roses.

The merry month of May usually gives us all those wonderful and beautiful flowers all around.  I remember when we were kids and still living in the province, Mom had several gardenia  shrubs planted in rows in front of our old house and every time they bloomed, we were rewarded with that heady scent that lasted throughout the day. Mom used to arrange the flowers in several makeshift vases and put them in all areas of the house.

Gardenias are smooth branched shrub that grow as high as two meters.  The leaves are about 2-6 cm. long, narrowed and are pointed at both ends.  They are shiny dark green.  The flowers are large, and occur in the upper axil of the leaves.  The white blooms last for a day or two then turn yellowish to brown before they die.  Studies show that the fruits of the gardenia seem to possess antioxidant property.

I remember this story published in the Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul.  I used to collect the Chicken Soup for the Soul series back in the late nineties.  It was shared by Marsha Arons and named the article, The White Gardenia.

Every year on my birthday, from the time I turned 12, one white gardenia was delivered anonymously to me at my house.  There was never a card or note, and calls to the florist were in vain because the purchase was always made in cash.  After a while, I stopped trying to discover the identity of the sender. i just delighted in the beauty and heady perfume of that one magical, perfect white flower nestled in folds of soft pink tissue paper.

But I never stopped imagining who the sender might be.  some of my happiest moments were spent in daydreams about someone wonderful and exciting, but too shy or eccentric to make known his or her identity. In my teen years, it was fun to speculate that the sender might be a boy I had a crush on, or even someone I didn’t know who had noticed me.

My mother often contributed to my speculations. she’d ask me if there was someone for whom I had done a special kindness, who might be showing appreciation anonymously.  She reminded me of the times when I’d been riding my bike and our neighbor drove up with her car full of groceries and children. I always helped her unload and made sure the children didn’t run into the road.  Or maybe the mystery sender was the old man across the street.  I often retrieved his mail during the winter, so he wouldn’t have to venture down his icy steps.

But there were some hurts my mother couldn’t heal. A month before my high school graduation, my father died suddenly of a heart attack. I became completely uninterested in my upcoming graduation, the senior class play and the prom – events that I had worked on and looked forward to.  My mother in the midst of her own grief, wouldn’t want me missing out on any of these things. she cared how we children felt about ourselves. she imbued us with a sense of magic in the world and she gave us the ability to see beauty even in the face of adversity.

In truth, my mother wanted her children to see themselves much like the gardenia – lovely, perfect, with an aura of magic and perhaps a bit of mystery.  My mother died when I was 22, only 10 days after I was married.  That was the year the gardenias stopped coming.

My Dish Garden

So far, here’s what I’ve done three months ago and I’ve changed the plants since then. I intend to replace some of the river stones with small white rocks and pebbles  for contrast. It’s quite easy to do a miniature garden but I am not that artistic enough to present it in such a way that is more pleasing to look at.  Will overhaul it again when I find other miniature plants!

A Morning Visit at the Katipunan Garden Center

I’ve long been planning to visit the garden center to buy some ornamental but Josef is always busy with work so he could not accompany me there to buy plants.(Call it the handicap of not being able to drive, I never tried learning, that’s why). So when the hubby came home, I got myself a permanent driver, haha!It’s really a gardener’s paradise !  Go green! I could stay here all day long and just stare at the flowers.
I am planning to make a dish garden for indoor decor.  I have a spare clay pot, it  was previously used for our water fountain but since I could not find a replacement for the “buho” arrangement that was  part of the set-up, I might as well put it to good use in some other ways.
They have a sizable collection of ornamental here. So pleasing to see familiar plants that I’ve seen in Caleruega. Bulacan Gardens sells theirs a little more expensive than the rest but they have several varieties of palms, indoor plants, different sizes of clay pots and some garden decors too.This  area is still part of the Bulacan Gardens. There are several garden stores here lining up the road of Katipunan but some are so expensive. I wish I have time to go to Manila Seedling  Bank to look for some cacti plants.These are large pots of garden accessories , corner accents, different hanging plants and they  have bamboo torches  too.A feast for the eyes!  We bought a pot of bougainvellia for our corner fence, six pieces of cucharita, ruella plants (I am glad they have them in light pink and white, Kyoto grass and spotted aglonaema. The hubby looking at some ornamental – white angels, santan, agaves, aglonaema, you name it, they  have them there.

How To Get Rid of Ants In Your Garden

There are basically three types of ants usually found in one’s backyard, the black ants, fire ants and red ants.  Black ants are considered monogyn, their colonies have a single queen. They nest underground and are commonly found in rotten deadwood or under stones.  This type of ant is a problem to most gardeners. Black garden ants often explore their surroundings during the summer months to search for more food for their queen and their young.

Some common names of fire ants are Ginger Ants and Tropical Fire ants.  They are mostly found in open areas in large mounds. They feed mostly on young plants and seeds.  They nest in most areas like riverbanks, pond edges and watered lawns.  They produce a painful sting which is similar to what one feels when burned by fire.  Red ants are known as leaf-cutter ants and usually invade a vegetable garden by the thousands.

About two days ago, I found the hubby twisting some old newspapers and lighting them to get rid of those unwanted pests in our backyard.  I used to get rid of them by drowning them with boiling water.  They come back after a while though as long as the queen ant is still alive.  One surefire way of course is to spray them with insect repellent but do you know that there are several ways of killing them by using other natural remedies which are usually found in our cupboards?

The first step is of course to follow their trail and get rid of those left-over food which they are attracted to like sweets, grease or food rich in protein.  Chemicals may be harmful to pets and children so we have to find ways to get rid of these pests without harming the environment.  We can use the following:

– baby powder or other scented talcum powder
– black pepper or cayenne pepper
– salt
– cinnamon
– boric acid
– cream of tartar
– coffee grounds
– paprika
– ground bay leaves
– vinegar

Planting mints around one’s house or garden also helps.  Ants usually follow a scent trail so make sure that when you see a lone ant strolling across your coffee table, don’t let it make it back to their nest alive.  Vacuuming them up also helps.

So why do ants kiss when they meet? Is that their way of communicating with each other?  Do they emit signal messages telling each other where to find food?