Wednesday, 28 January 2009

white lotus

For the longest time that I can remember, i've only had the common pink lotus. In fact, I have to confess to being somewhat ignorant as I never knew that lotus, like water-lilies, come in a variety of colours. So it came as a surprise when I stumbled upon a pot of white lotus at World Farm several years ago. Unfortunately, my friend (who was plant-shopping for his new home) beat me to it by purchasing the one and only pot, so I had to settle for second best, which was really to wait for his plant to flower and produce seed.

Of course, that never happened. Don't get me wrong. The lotus did bloom, but my friend was none the wiser and claimed that did not know to collect the seeds for me. Eventually, the lotus died under his lack of care, and with it, all hopes of me ever finding another white lotus. (but to be honest, I didn't really try hard enough)

A couple of months ago, I spotted a pot of white lotus sitting in a pot outside my French neighbour's house. He told me that he got it from a lotus farm opposite farm-mart. Not long after, his lotus flowered and I managed thereafter to collect some seeds from the lotus pod. I wasted no time in sowing them in a large dragon pot and in a matter of weeks, the first bloom emerged.

There is something very sacred-like and pure about the white lotus. Its petals, when looked at under bright sunlight, seem almost translucent, like pure white linen, glistening in the sun. It also has a slight scent which to me, accentuates the sense of purity and lightness of being. Very ethereal and mystical.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

the plastic orchid

I found this Epidendrum hybrid (known as Epicattleya Rene Marques 'Flame Thrower' HCC/AOS) at Woon Leng while shopping around for a gift for a friend who was throwing a birthday dinner party at his newly refurbished house complete with a very lush and resplendent garden. As he himself, is very much into gardening and plants, I figured that a plant would make a very appropriate gift. So I set out to find something that would be fairly unique and exotic, and this was what I ended up with.

According to the chap at Woon Leng, this hybrid is a cross between the Epi. Pseudepidendrum and the Catt. Claesiana. Although it was a tad exorbitant, the rarity and uniqueness of the blooms seemed to make up for it. Besides, it's not often that one comes across a plant with bright green flowers (other than the hydrangea, some other orchids and the calla lily) and when you pair that with a zesty burst of yellow and a spot of fuschia, you get in fact, quite a spectacular, albeit plastic-looking flower.

The last I heard, the orchid seems to be doing well and has produced new pseudostems and spiked several times. I too, managed to get a pot of my own at this year's Garden Festival but for considerably less.

Cattleya burana beauty

Of all the various genera of orchids which exist in the world today, the one which I love and enjoy the most has to be the Cattleya. There is something very exotic and spectacular about the luscious and flamboyant blooms, many of which are large and fragrant. It's no wonder that the Cattleya is often referred to and is often used as a corsage. 

The burana beauty is one such example. They are also amongst the easiest of orchids to grow, with most being very tolerant of poor conditions and neglect. The fact that mine flowers without the need for fertiliser is proof of that! 

Monday, 26 January 2009


I chanced upon this today whilst taking my dogs out for their usual walk. As with quite a lot of the labels around the ginger gardens, the label for this plant just read "Hornstedtia" without naming the species. I carried out some preliminary research on the internet but I could not determine what species of Hornstedtia this is. Most of the ones featured appear to be either Hornstedtia scyphifera or leonurus. This on the other hand, has yellowish cream coloured flowers.

Hornstedtias belong to the Zingiberaceae family. They are not as well known as the etlingeras or the zingibers of this world, but they hold their own and are known to be one of the tallest gingers in the world, some of which can reach a height of about 7m or more. Hornstedtias have two rather distinctive features; the inflorescence and stout rhizomes are either wholly just above ground level or raised about 50cm or more above the ground supported by vigorous red stilt roots (see photo below). The lateral, spindel-shaped inflorescences are surrounded by densely imbricate involucal bracts often characteristically reticulate or ribbed. The flowers are usually red with a narrow protruding lip, emerging usually from the top of the cone-like inflorescence.

There are allegedly about 60 species of Hornstedtia, most of which can be found in South East Asia.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Cattleya schilleriana

I think I know how it feels to be a father-to-be, waiting eagerly for the first born to arrive. The anticipation can sometimes build up into a frenzy as each day brings you closer to the due date.  That's how I felt while I was waiting for the only bud on my Cattleya schilleriana to flower. It did, and on the eve of the Chinese New Year. (hopefully, this brings me good luck)

You would probably have be more understanding had I told you that this Cattleya has never once flowered, other than the time I bought it from Woon Leng more than a year ago. Then again, maybe it is just me, as unlike other orchid enthusiasts, I very seldom bother to spray my orchids with fertiliser. Blame it on a combination of being lazy and too much hassle. 

Still, the inaction doesn't stop some of my other orchids like the effervescent Cattleya burana beauty and the sweet smelling Vanda mini palmer from blooming fairly regularly. 

The Cattleya schilleriana is a small epiphyte which is endemic to Brazil. It reportedly grows on mossy rocks, hardwood forests and cliff faces in close proximity to surface water which helps maintain high levels of humidity. The leaves of Cattleya schilleriana are spotted with red. The plants range from 4 to 10 inches in height and are similar in appearance to Cattleya aclandiae. The flowers are of heavy substance and the petals and sepals are quite ruffled. It is considered fairly rare to have more than 2 flowers per stem although 5 flowers have been reported before. The flower color is quite variable with some plants producing olive-green flowers tinted with brown and spotted with brownish-red spots while others are redish-brown with almost solid mahogony spots. The lip has a pale yellow base color which shows off the purple veining.
Being epiphytic in nature, the Cattleya schilleriana is ideal on slabs, rafts, or baskets for best growth. The plant also needs bright light and good air circulation. 

Nepenthes reinwardtiana

Another to add to my collection of Nepenthes, this time the Nepenthes reinwardtiana. Although this species is rather widespread in places like Sumatra and Borneo, commercial nurseries in Singapore do not appear to have it, which probably explains why I paid rather handsomely for it. 

This species can be found in a variety of habitats, including roadside embankments to lowland rainforests, exposed rock faces, peaty spagnum swamps and growing en-masse on trees. Although this is a climbing species and therefore mostly terrestrial in nature, it can also be entirely epiphytic, forming great masses on the larger tree branches of the canopy where light is plentiful. 

The pitchers are up to 25cm long, narrowed in the middle, then flared towards the large, oval, sloping mouth. The colouration ranges from a pure pale green to a dark red. The lid is also oval, with evenly scattered small glads all over the underside. This species is distinguished by the usual presence of 2 waxy "eyes" on the inside of the pitcher but the function of these remain unknown. 

N. reinwardtiana is an easy species to grow under typical lowland conditions with high temperatures and humidity resulting in larger pitchers.  It also strikes readily from cuttings, which is great news because I will be able to propagate them. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


I like photography. I always have. Like art and gardening, it is a deeply personal activity which affords one the space to explore and the opportunity to express his or her thoughts, emotions and creativity through the lens. It is an opportunity for people, ordinary folk like you and I, to witness what the photographer sees.  

I don't consider myself to be a professional photographer for I do not have the appropriate equipment nor the requisite skills. But I like to think that i've got a keen eye, an interesting perspective and I do take pretty decent photos.  Most of the photos on this blog were taken by me using my Canon Powershot G10 (or its predecessors, the G7 and G3 respectively) a compact but powerful 14.7 megapixel camera that functions pretty much like a SLR.  As you can probably tell, I enjoy taking macroshots of plants, especially foliage with its different patterns and different colours and shades of green. The montage below of foliage in my garden speaks for itself.