Monday, 27 December 2010

coastal plants

Over the Christmas holiday, I partook in a reef walk at Sentosa. The area I was checking out was flanked by tall cliffs which had all sorts of plants growing on it. Apart from the N. Rafflesiana, I have not been able to positively identify the rest, some of which have thick, shiny and waxy leaves to deal with the constant salt spray. I should start focusing more on our coastal plants, in particular our mangroves which are increasingly becoming endangered.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

afgekia update

I saw this Afgekia growing very well on a trellis at the hort park. In fact, the car park area there is lined with different sorts of creepers on metal trellises. It's really good that they have these as it gives people like me ideas as to the type of creeper I want, and the location I intend to grow it. Seeing how dense the foliage can get, I think the Afgekia will do well on a fence or a green wall at my new place. Trellises are better left for plants with hanging flowers like the jade vine.

Alpinia pleuranthodium (pink pearls)

This is one of the lesser known or seen alpinias. I chanced upon this growing at the botanic gardens several months ago. It's not a frequent bloomer, but like many alpinias, it has a gingery fragrance. Unfortunately, not a lot is known about this plant.

alpinia formosana (pinstripe ginger)

Whilst potting around the garden, I noticed that my Alpinia fomorsana was blooming for the very first time. I've grown mine from a rhizome (which I imported from Aloha) in a pot for the last two years. The plant is about 1.2 to 1.5 metres tall and appears to do very well in our climate. The flowers are porcelain white with pink tips and have a strong gingery fragrance. However, unlike it's showy cousins the alpinia zerumbet, this species is grown more for its outstanding foliage consisting of glossy green leaves with fine white pinstriping. It grows well in pots, but probably produces larger inflorescences if grown in the ground. This species is often mistaken for the Alpinia vittata which is quite common in our nursery trade.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

I still have not managed to ID this species of costus. NParks should really make it a point to positively ID all their plants and have them labelled.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

goldflame honeysuckle (Lonicera x heckrottii )

A few weeks ago, I chanced upon this lovely honeysuckle specimen at World Farm. Known more commonly as the Goldflame Honeysuckle, this twining climber bears sweetly fragrant, tubular carmine flowers that open to reveal creamy, yellow throats above pairs of round, blue-green leaves.

It can be trained to climb fences, trellises or arbors but a support must be provided for them to climb on. Heaviest blooming occurs in full sun in well-drained locations and slightly acidic to neutral soil conditions. Although it thrives better in hardiness zones of between 4 and 9, it does appear to grow fairly well in our humid tropical weather, though regular watering will be required to prevent the leaves from going limp.

Monday, 18 October 2010

creepers and vines

I have a soft spot for creepers and vines, not just because of the way they twirl around delicately but more so because of the majestic flowers they produce, which are often either borne singly or in large clusters.

Vines are usually divided into woody vines such as the sandpaper vine (Petrea volubilis), rangoon creeper (Quisqualis Indica), passiflora and thunbergias, and herbaceous vines such as morning glory. Vines climb in a variety of methods. Some, like the rangoon creeper and jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) climb by twining their stems around a support while others like Passiflora use tendrils which twirl on anything they can hook on. And some others use twining petioles, clinging roots (Cup of Gold, Solandra maxima), thorns which pierce for support (climbing rose), hooked branches or adhesive pads (Shingle plant, Raphidophora celatocaulis).

Vines are useful when you have a fence which you want covered to screen off for privacy. You can also train climbers over pergolas or trellises or against bare walls or anything which you want covered. It is often employed by landscape designers to soften buildings or areas which are very built up.

So far, i've amassed quite a few different species of vines and creepers which I will use at my new place. As the new place is a corner semi-detached house, I have quite a long stretch of fence (made of Galvanised steel) which needs to be covered. I will probably cover it with something vigourous, like the rangoon creeper (Quisqualis Indica) or the different species of passifloras which I have. For the pergola area leading to the front door, i'll probably plant something elegant, like the jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys). The double-storey feature wall trellis (recycled from the cast iron grilles of the existing house) will probably feature either the sandpaper vine (Petrea volubilis) or the Afgekia sericea. The Cup of Gold (Solandra maxima) and Odontadenia macrantha will probably end up where the "nursery" area is going to be, together with the more delicate passiflora amethyst. Some of the walled areas will be covered with the Shingle creeper (Raphidophora celatocaulis). I will have to find a place for the Lonicera x heckrottii , Aristolochia labiata, and the leafy vine with long aerial roots!

Saturday, 9 October 2010


I saw this specimen at the hort park and this is my first sighting of the pink variety. So far, i've only managed to see the purple one growing at Lyndi's garden.

Not a lot is known about this creeper other than the fact that it originates from Thailand. Luckily for me, a trip to Ang Mo Kio nursery on Friday proved most fruitful as they had just brought in a new albeit young batch of plants. This will definitely go on some trellis at the new place, along with all my other creepers and vines.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

collection of Mt Tenggar plants

These are a collection of images taken during my recent trip to Mt. Bromo in Surabaya. The most common and by far the most spectacular flowering species has to be the brugmansia. They were planted everywhere in different shades of yellow, orange and white. Like in Cameron Highlights, Brugmansias typically do better in cooler climates, which explains why mine used to flower towards the end of the year, during the wet season. Unfortunately, I had to give my plant away as it is highly toxic and therefore posed a danger to my dogs.

Friday, 20 August 2010


Was surfing Ting Ting's blog and came across an entry with this image of Ting Ting and my friend Jason. They were featured in the August edition of Appetite magazine on urban gardens. The photo of Jason was taken in his cool-house which is his pride and joy. He tried convincing me to get one set up at the new place, but the thought of hefty electricity bills, coupled with the impact on the environment was enough to deter me. I can see the attraction in having a cool house because it opens up new possibilities for the avid tropical gardener, but it comes at a price. It all boils down to priorities. I think I will simply go with a simple 'cage-like' structure which would function as my nursery and holding area for my hanging and shade-loving plants.

Perhaps some day they would feature my garden. But what should I pose with? My bromeliad collection perhaps?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

pitcher update

I thought I would carry out an update on the pitchers at home. My love affair for pitchers (nepenthes) began with a pot of N. truncata I got from World Farm. It always starts with that one pot, doesn't it? Soon, I found myself getting another, and then another and before I know it, I have 10 different specimens hanging in my backyard. But it doesn't quite end there, because you end up collecting more, from other nurseries, garden shows, other collectors and so on. I even hand-carried some I bought from Chatuchak market in Bangkok on my flight home.

At the time, I was also fascinated by other savage plants such as sarracenias, venus fly traps, sundews, butterworts and even created a carnivorous plant terrarium, complete with 3 high intensity daylight fluorescent tubes. To-date, I probably have more than 20 different species and hybrids, most of which were bought and some were given by fellow pitcher-loving friends like Lyndi and Jason.

Pitchers are easy to care for, and contrary to popular belief, they do not really need to feed on insects to survive. Insects provide additional nutrients which help it to grow. They seem to be thriving relatively well, but would probably do better in a coolhouse environment.