Monday, March 2, 2015

Steady as a Rock (A Rocky Garden Update)

It has been over a year since my last post but to me it seems like it's been several years.

In my October 2013 post, I wrote about the new garden that Mom was working on during that time. The area was abundant with rocks and so she utilized them in the garden, which made me call it the "Rocky Garden". You can read the post by clicking here.

A path inside the Rocky Garden in early 2014.

A year ago, the plantings were still very sparse because the garden was just beginning to take shape. There were more rocks than plants. Little by little new plants were added and recycled concrete slabs were laid for foot paths. Now it looks more like a garden. These pictures below were taken last December, 2014.

In our part of the country, December is always a cool and wet month. But the plants above are definitely enjoying the season, as one familiar seasonal song suggests "T'is the season to be jolly..."

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Across The Pond

A young Red Jade begins to climb up a tree into a cable wire.
Those living in the U.S. or the British isles might think this post talks about the other side of the Atlantic ocean. But not really. It is literally what's across the pond, or shall I say, what's crossing the pond.

My father has developed a fondness for the Red Jade vine ever since he saw how beautiful and graceful it flowers. After fixing the damaged pergola for the Red Jade and building another one for two more Red Jades (see previous post), he thought it would be great if the vine would cross over the pond onto the opposite side. He was envisioning how the flowers would get showcased when it begins to bloom; how the dangling cluster of flowers would look really nice as they hang in a row above the pond.

To achieve this feat Dad fixed two parallel cable wires on two trees, each on the opposite side of the pond. Mom then planted two of her newly propagated Red Jades below each of these trees and trained the vines to climb up into the cable.

Cable wires suspended above the pond for the Red Jade vine to climb on.

As you can see from the pictures above, this "poor" young vine has a lot of growing to do and a long way to go before it could cross to the other side of the pond or at least meet the other Red Jade halfway.

It may take a couple of years before my father's vision of a row of Red Jade flowers hanging above the pond comes to fruition... that is, if it goes well according to his plan.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Reader's Corner

hi, just wanna ask if you know where i can purchase the champaca alba plant here in the philippines. thank you very much.

Regards, cons

Hello Cons,

If you are in Metro Manila, you will be able to purchase champaca alba at the Manila Seeding Bank. You can also request from any of the stores there if none is available when you visit.

Also, you may want to try to go to the garden stores at Guiguinto, Bulacan. Their plants are priced way cheaper than the stores at the seedling bank.

Have fun in your quest for champaca alba. I hope you find it.

Am glad you're back, wondering what happened to you. I can't locate your email add, so i used this. I hope you're doing fine. God bless.

Regards, Andrea

Hi Andrea!

Glad to be back also, although still slow in posting :) I'm doing fine and I hope you are also. God bless!

I am looking for 1000 Pachystachys Lutea cuttings.
regards A.Scheffers

Regards, mr. A.Scheffers

Hello Mr. A. Scheffers,

The Pachystachys Lutea is a very commom plant in the Philippines. If you are in this country, there shouldn't be any problem obtaining the 1000 cuttings you need.

Shipping to another country though is a bit complicated as it will require some papers to legally export live plants. You may want to shop online as most of these stores are able to handle international shipping.

Best wishes and I hope you are able to get all the "shrimp plant" cutting that you need.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Back in the fourth quarter of 2009 when we began the process of "greening" the farm, Mom bought some seedlings she thought were agave plants. But when I saw the picture (see below), I thought they were not agaves but maybe were related to the pineapple family.

As much as I can, I try to identify and record the names of the plants we collect and plant in the farm. Since I could not identify the common and botanical name of these plants I couldn't add it to my list.

In 2011, the last time I visited the farm, I didn't even remember seeing these plants. In fact I've completely forgotten about them. This year however, I've been noticing them very prominent in some of the e-mailed pictures I regularly receive from my mother. How couldn't I, they're big yet look very nice.

Now that they've grown big and bushy, I remember seeing pictures of plants that look  like these in  the internet. They are palm-like with stout trunks and prop roots near the base. They use these roots to support the main trunk as they grow top heavy with leaves, branches and sometimes fruits. They are called "screw pines" (Pandanus spp.) or "pandanus palms" although they are not related to the palm trees.

Screw pines are dioecious, meaning they have separate male and female flowers, hence male and female plants. Only the females will produce fruits. Our pandanus are not yet mature enough to bear flowers so we may need a few more years to know their sexes.

Now I know the genus where they belong. There are several species under the Pandanus genus. It may take more hours of reading and surfing the net before I could get lucky enough to identify the species of the pandanus we have growing in the farm.

At least, now I could include this in my plant list.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Reader's Corner

Hi! Glad you're back and blogging again. I really enjoy reading your posts, that's why I - among your other followers - missed your posts.

Hope you're alright and will continue blogging.

God bless!


Thanks for your warm message, Chellet. It's good to be back as well.

So many things have happened in the farm during the eighteen months this blog was silent. Most of the changes though were not garden related. However, the garden side of the farm still exists and the ongoing and planned improvements - no matter how miniscule some might be - are still worth penning.

And that is why Solitude Rising remains.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Moment of Silence

In light of the tragedy that severely affected millions of Filipinos in the central Philippines brought by the strongest typhoon (hurricane) ever recorded to hit land, and in solidarity with those who are suffering, Solitude Rising will be silent for the whole month of November. Posts that were suppose to be published this November will appear in December instead.

Super Typhoon Haiyan over the Philippines on November 9, 2013 as imaged from Earth orbit by NASA Astronaut Karen Nyberg aboard the International Space Station.Category 5 killer storm Haiyan stretches across the entire photo from about 250 miles (400 kilometer) altitude. Credit: NASA/Karen Nyberg

Photo and caption were taken from Article title: "Super-Typhoon Haiyan Causes Catastrophic Death & Destruction – Space Images from NASA, ISRO, Roscosmos & ISS"

Monday, October 28, 2013

Red Jade Dilemma

Red Jade in full bloom three years ago.
Nature has not been kind to our two beautiful Red Jade vines.

The storms of last year toppled the structures where they were growing, breaking tender branches that would normally bear the beautiful, pendulous clusters of red flowers.

It is inevitable though that these structures will eventually crumble. After all they're just made of bamboos, which rot easily especially in a place where it's wet much of the year and humid all year round.

As a temporary solution, and creatively as well, my father decided to use the main trunks of living plants as posts for the arbors.

As you see from the picture on the right and below, one arbor is now supported by the trunks of three live palm trees on one side. On the other side are three sturdy logs serving as legs of the bamboo latticework.

This particular vine used to hang above the ruins of a long gone gazebo. A storm from last year flattened the bamboo pergola and damaged the plant, breaking most of its branches. Good thing it still survived.

Now it has a new and better home, just on the opposite side of where it used to climb. In a few months it will become lush and hopefully around this month next year it will start to bloom.

And if one vine is not enough, there are two new young Red Jades getting trained to climb into another arbor. One of the young vines is shown in the picture on the left and the other vine is seen on the right side of the picture above.

This new arbor is made of cable wires. These weaving tangle of wires are supported by three mahogany trees. For a storm to bring down this cable arbor, it needs to be strong enough to topple at least one of these trees. But then again, exactly three years ago, a powerful storm did manage to bring down a mighty Narra tree nearby (see picture above or below).

Installing the trellis made of cable wire.

The finished cable wire arbor/trellis.

These structures are just temporary, especially the one with the bamboo top. My wish, budget permitting, is to replace them with sturdier structures like the metal pergola across the pond.

I've been going back and forth, not sure whether to call these structures "arbor" or "pergola". While writing this article I was watching a replay episode of "Yard Crashers" on HGTV and like the host knew my dilemma, he said "if it's a passthrough it's an arbor, if it's a larger structure it's a pergola. There you go! These are pergolas!