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!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Rocky Garden

A footpath in the "rocky garden".

A "rock garden" is a garden in which rocks are arranged in a manner that is artistically pleasing to look at. Rocks are the main component of the garden and plants are placed around the rocks to accentuate the rock formations.

 This garden that Mom is working on is technically not a "rock garden". She is using the rocks as part of the garden as accents to the plants she will be putting there.

That is why I call this a "rocky garden".

There are plenty of rocks buried in the farm grounds. Whenever they dig a hole for planting or for whatever purpose, they are able to dig out rocks of varying sizes. I experienced this first hand when I tried to help plant one of the Foxtail palms we bought the last time I was there. What should have been an easy task took twice as much time since every time my spade hits a rock I had to manually pull that rock out before I could continue digging.

Sometimes there are these huge rocks that are just too odd or too interesting to look at, like this one pictured on the left. This too has been dug out of the ground in the farm.

And there are other rocks that have been unearthed years ago. They have been exposed to the elements for quite some time and have began to gather moss, like this one rock pictured on the right.

With the abundance of rocks buried underneath, could it be that the farm used to be a part of a river bed in the very distant past?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Birds of a feather ...

There are new additions to the animals in the farm. These are the five geese you see below. Although they were bought from two different sources, it seems like they have always been together. Now this is the literal meaning of the saying "birds of a feather flock together".

I was told that in the earlier years of the farm, before I began to actively participate in overseeing it, there used to be a healthy gaggle of geese roaming freely there. Eventually, their numbers began to dwindle until none was left.

Happily swimming in one of the fishponds of their new home.

Thanks to my dad, they were reintroduced to the farm just a couple of weeks ago. Time will tell if they will increase in number.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I'm Back!!!

After over a year (almost 19 months to be exact) of hiatus... I am actually back.

My blogging muse has temporarily left me for some other blogger but now she's back and so am I. I was heartened by the comments left here and messages on my e-mail account about readers missing my posts. There were even a few messages of encouragement from some "anonymous" readers.

To my anonymous readers, thank you for your thoughts. Even if you don't leave any footprint I'm glad that you're there.

Now, before I publish new posts, there's just a minor change that I've implemented on my blog. As much as I enjoy reading your comments, I have disabled the comment section. If you are itching to write a comment, do e-mail me and I may (as a reward for your effort) publish your comment as a blog entry entitled "Readers' Corner". Don't worry, only your blog name and/or name (if you provide them) and comments will be published.

If you wish to comment there is a comment section on the right panel labeled "If you wish to leave a comment...", or go to "About Me" and click on the link or the ostrich picture. You will find my e-mail address in that page.