Monday, October 31, 2011

Black beauty

"Master said, God had given men reason, by which they could find out things for themselves..."
"Black Beauty"
by Anna Sewell

From red stem to black stem.

Admittedly, my knowledge of plants and their behaviors were very limited when we started collecting for the garden project. As I began to research on what to get, that's the only time I learned more about the different types of bamboos including those with black colored culms (stems).

From what I've seen in the internet, there are only a few species of what is called a "black bamboo", namely Phyllostachys nigra, Gigantochloa atroviolacea and Bambusa lako. Please let me know if there are others. Of the three, P. nigra is what I prefer most. But because it's a running type bamboo I thought best not to deal with the hassles and headaches of controlling its runaway shoots.

I don't know what Black Bamboos are available in the market in our corner of the world, so in 2009, when I asked Mom to buy some Black Bamboos I specifically said to look for those with a clumping behavior. When I saw pictures of the young bamboos my mother bought, their culms exhibited a deep black coloration, I thought we had it. But as the bamboos grew and matured, their black color seemed to be fading also. Have we been duped again?

Some of the supposedly "Black Bamboos" with varying culm shades from green to black.

Turning to the internet again I read that the culms of both Gigantochloa atroviolacea and Bambusa lako start out green and as they age they slowly turn to black, or at least dark to almost black. I have no idea what species of bamboos we got because they were bought from a garden store where the retailers are not familiar with the botanical names of the plants they sell.

The row of supposedly "Black Bamboos" greet guests as they approach the upper garden .

I'm a very skeptical person so I've lowered my expectation to the point that I believe these are not true Black Bamboos. Maybe these are hybrids? Black Bamboos or not these living things deserve a place under the sun, so even if I'm a bit disappointed, they are staying in their current location to live their long lives to the fullest.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Red Stem Thalia... revisited

Since my last post was about a new water garden and a few pond plants, here's an update on another pond plant which I've already posted last year, the Red Stem Thalia (Thalia geniculata)

This is why it is called a 'Red Stem' Thalia. That glob attached to the stem are the eggs of an aquatic snail.

I ended my "Red Stemmed Thalia" post on a not so positive note. I wrote about how sickly and pitiful they looked after they have been divided, considering that they came to the farm looking very healthy and very proud.

A distressed bunch of Thalias after they've been divided last year.

The picture above shows how they look just days after they've been separated and relocated. The fishpond's water was so turbid because it was the height of a severe drought back then. Now the Thalias (a.k.a. "Water Cannas") are so robust. Below is a picture that shows how the they have grown one year after they have been "manhandled" and moved to their current location.

Unlike the terrestrial Canna, the Water Canna does not produce beautiful flowers. They are tiny and dangles at the end of a very long leafless stem. When they are all in bloom the bunch look unkempt. And the two plant species have nothing in common but the name "canna."

Thalias are not known for their flowers.

Thalias (both geniculata and dealbata) do not produce stunning flowers but for this particular type of Thalia one can certainly appreciate the foliage and the deep red stems. These are marginal or bog plants, meaning they grow well in wet soil or shallow waters. They are tall and elegant, a great plant for a significantly sized pond or water garden.

The Thalias on one corner of the fishpond...

...and on another.

Aquatic plants provide a beneficial function in balancing a pond ecosystem. They absorb nutrients in the water which may be harmful to the fishes. Also, they provide habitat for other creatures. In our fishpond, snails climb up their stems and deposit their eggs there. Except for the unsightly clusters of eggs, the snails do no other harm to the plants.

The Thalias are due for another division. This means they have to suffer stress once again. I know they will survive, still whenever I see any of our beloved plants looking distressed I can't help but worry. But they're in the capable hands of my mother so I know they will be okay.