Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Going through the list of blogs I follow, I saw one entry titled "Raise Your Hand If You Have Ever Killed a Plant" by Noelle of "Ramblings From A Desert Garden...".

If I were to raise my hand, I would raise both hands and both feet as well. This is because the number of plants that died in our garden are too many to count with my fingers. And that is from one plant species alone. This is not a random killing. I consider this a genocide.

Sad to say that out of the 20+ Tree Ferns we bought and planted in our garden, all but one died. The only survivor is still recuperating in the Intensive Care Unit of the nursery and is still barely living.

Three of the Tree Ferns which tried in vain to adapt to our garden.

So what caused this mass killing of Tree Ferns? Neglect!

Before the unusually hot summer began I told my trusted gardeners (a.k.a. "Mom" and her minions) to move the ferns under the shade of the trees, either under the mango trees or down to the ledge where they could be partially shaded from the scorching heat of the summer sun. But since it would take manpower to move those plants, Mom asked for help from my other trusted helpers (a.k.a. Dad and his followers). Unfortunately, the plea for help fell on deaf ears. The Tree Ferns were never moved. Apart form constant watering to keep them moist, they were left alone to weather the intense heat of the sun which was aggravated by the "El NiƱo" phenomenon.

The Tree Ferns fought as valiantly as they could. They sprouted new fronds but as soon as their leaves unfurled, they wilted under the baking heat. Eventually the stress broke their spirit and they gave up. Their life force vanished and all that's left are but dessicated trunks.

I was so sad when I learned about the fate of our Tree Ferns. I really love the stately and elegant looks of these plants. Now they're gone. And gone too is the huge sum of money I spent to purchase those plants.

I may not be directly responsible for the demise of our Tree Ferns, but I might as well be. If I were there in the garden, I would have labored even on my own to move them one by one to a safer location just to give them a fighting chance. Alas, my heart (and my wallet) is suffering from the loss.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happiness is a butterfly

A row of Camia growing in our garden.
When I first gave Mom a list of priority plants to buy, it included White Butterfly ginger (Hedychium coronarium). I chose this plant because I loved the images I saw on the internet plus I was intrigued by the fragrance of its flowers. The articles I've read all say its flowers have a very sweet scent.

So off went Mom and Dad to the garden stores looking for this plant without expectations of finding it. As soon as they showed the picture to one seller, she exclaimed: "Ah! Camia!"

Ah, Camia! What a joyful feeling I had when I learned that it is the one they call Camia in the Philippines. It's like rediscovering something I've discovered before. Despite not recognizing it from the pictures in the internet, I know Camia. I've seen and touched it in my younger years but only the flowers, never the plant where they come from. The plant is indeed available locally and quite easy to grow. I never imagined I will be looking for it someday. I never even imagined growing it someday in our garden.

The Camia (White Butterfly ginger) flowers.

I love the White Butterfly ginger, it is truly a very sweet-smelling flower. It is so fragrant that it is stringed as leis, sold outside churches in the Philippines as a fitting offering to God and his saints.

I'm just so happy that I got reacquainted with the White Butterfly ginger.

"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you"
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Monday, July 19, 2010

The whole nine yards

Behind our humble home is a quaint patio which is in need of repair due to age coupled with neglect.

Despite of its broken-down state, the view from the patio is quite relaxing. It includes the entire length of the fishponds and beyond that is the mango orchard. But directly below the patio is an eyesore of a yard, a long and sloping stretch of neglected space. It is home to an unkempt bed of weeds and wild grasses of different kinds, where a couple of fruit trees and clumps of bamboos seemed to have sprouted out of nowhere.

The state of the yard below the patio before improvements were made.

From the very beginning of our project, this neglected yard has been one of my specific target for improvement. My plan is to transform this forgotten space into a landscaped garden, install footpaths and benches so that one can stroll around or just sit down to admire the view. For the avid angler, the edge of the garden is an excellent spot for fishing.

A view from the patio of a garden in the making. The area has just been cleared of the wild grass that used to inhabit it. They have also began the initial landscaping.

A view from the soon-to-be garden looking up toward the patio.

Once this mini project is completed, the view from the patio will look much better than it is today. Hopefully, it will entice people to come down to the yard and explore the garden.

Friday, July 16, 2010

African football

For the past several months I have encountered too many blog entries from different blogging sites about Scadoxus multiflorus, commonly known as African Blood lily or Football lily.

Maybe this was the subliminal result of the advertisements bombarded to the public by the recently concluded 2010 FIFA World Cup which was hosted by South Africa. Or maybe because it's just the perfect season for this plant to emerge from the ground and show off its lovely bloom.

As I was going through the blog entries about the African Blood lily, I had this feeling that I've seen this plant before, not in someone else's garden but in our own. I just can't ascertain that this is indeed the same plant as the one I saw, until recently when I received the picture below.

Some Football lilies growing in the original garden.

Mom confirmed that we have had this plant in our original garden for many, many years now. The original garden is a small plot just outside our humble house and is enclosed by a wooden fence.

The reason why I'm vaguely familiar with it is mainly because well, I rarely visit the farm, and when I'm there the plants are usually in hibernation. In one of my rare visits though, I saw a few of the flowers but they were on their final days and were already exhibiting a rather tired appearance. That was probably the reason why I just took a very quick glance and moved on. What I didn't see, or perhaps failed to notice were the beautiful foliage that appear next after they bloom.

The young Football lilies in the nursery. They will be planted in the upper garden when they are mature enough.

Now that I know that this beautiful plant is able to thrive in our garden, I asked Mom if she could propagate the ones we have so we could also plant them in the upper garden. Little did I know that she had already done so.

And so concludes my contribution to the ever growing number of blog entries about the African Blood lily or the Football lily.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Generation gap

I think it's safe to assume that everyone is aware of the life cycle of most plant species: a plant grows, matures and produces flowers; the flowers produce seeds; the seed germinates and grows. And the cycle begins again.

But what if one important process is missing?

Those who have Red gingers might know what I'm talking about. This behavior is quite new to us since it's the first time it happened to our Red ginger plant. And I'm quite delightfully surprised with this peculiar behavior.

The flowers of the Red ginger with with new "seedlings" growing on them.

One would think that the Red ginger flowers should produce seeds first then wither. Instead, while still quite fresh, some of the flowers sprouted young Red gingers, completely skipping one important step.

Mom took the young shoots and planted them in individual containers. A new generation of Red gingers are now happily growing in the nursery, a welcome addition to our growing number of Red gingers.

The Red ginger "seedlings' transplanted to individual containers.

Wouldn't it be nice if all flowering plants are like that? We won't need to grow plants from seeds anymore. Now that's what I call a generation gap... I mean germination gap.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A room to grow

The rain has been falling more frequently now. It's time to move the plants from the nursery to their permanent location in the upper garden.

Even though there are still lingering days with no precipitation, it's safe to move most of the plants from their cramped space in the nursery to where there is plenty of space to spread their limbs, roots and leaves. And that move is what's keeping our gardeners busy since the rainy days began to arrive.

One of our helpers busy transplanting ornamental plants in the upper garden.

But now that the soil is getting a more constant soaking, the wild grasses too are in a mad rush to grow and reclaim the ground. They are growing so fast that they are towering over some of the already established garden plants which have been transplanted several months ago.

Two other helpers clearing the area around the plants where the wild grass seem to have totally taken over.

Wherever they need to put the garden plants, they need to clear the area first so that the plants would have some space to grow and a better chance of survival. They have to constantly keep the grass at bay, otherwise they will rob the plants of the light and nutrients they need and eventually suffocate them.

A young goat munching on some fresh grass cuttings from the upper garden.

Unsightly as they are, part of the reason why the grasses are allowed to grow tall is so that the goats would have plenty to feed on. The goats are no longer allowed to roam freely in the upper garden to protect the plants from their voracious appetite. Their vast foraging grounds have been reclaimed so their food must now be brought to them manually.

Someday the sea of wild grass will give way to a landscaped and well maintained garden. Someday.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Crazy about the goat

A few months back, I recounted the blooper my parents committed when they unintentionally purchased a different breed of goat from what I asked them to get.

Well, it happened again!

It seems like they can't get the right breed whenever they buy a goat. At first they bought a Boer when I asked them to get an Anglo-Numbian doe. Because of that we now have a female Boer with no mate and a male Anglo-Nubian still with no partner.

So a few months later I asked them to get a Boer buck and an Anglo-Nubian doe. Because juveniles are cheaper than adults, that's what we planned to get to fit in my budget.

The newly bought Anglo-Nubian doe (6 months old) and the hybrid Boer/Kalahari Red buck (4 months old) in a quarantine cage.

Finally they got it right with the Anglo-Nubian doe. But to my surprise they also brought home a mixed Boer and Kalahari Red buck! What the ....? Must I fly home to make sure they do things right?

Ah, my dear parents! I don't know if their goal is to collect all existing breed of goats or maybe they simply find pleasure in driving me crazy. Maybe it's payback for all my mischiefs when I was younger? The last time I checked I was never the black sheep of the family. But that's another story.