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.

small but rare

This precious little gem is a Phalaenopsis appendiculata var. alba. It was given to me by one of Singapore's most prolific orchid collectors, Jason Ong. I saw it for the first time during the recent Singapore Garden Festival as J had used two in his display. They're very costly, considering the fact that the flower is no bigger than my finger nail. Still, this is truly a collector's plant which I fear, are in the wrong hands, namely mine. So far, it is still blooming, but the real challenge lies in keeping it alive and growing it. * Update, as of 1 July 2011, I am happy to announce that this is still alive!

Like most Phalaenopsis, the appendiculata alba is an epiphytic plant, with fleshy roots and a short stem completely covered by imbricating leaf sheaths. There are a few fleshy leaves which are elliptic or oblong which are about 7 cm long, 3,5 cm wide. The flower stalk is much more shorter than the leaves. The flowers are produced in succession and are no bigger than 8 to 10 mm.

golden banana

This was given to me as a pup over two years ago. I grew it in a pot and neglected it somewhat, occasionally feeding it with bonemeal. I'm surprised how it has survived, given that many other musas which are supposedly easy to grow have died in my care including Musa velutina, Musa uranoscopus, Musa Thai Red and the Musa white variegated. The only musas I have left today are Musa ornata, Musa, laterita and Musa Sumatrana (Blood Banana).

The Musa siamenisis or Thai Gold Banana a newly discovered species from Southern Thailand. It is considered rare in cultivation. It is closely related to the more common Musa laterita and grows to similar heights. This species grows to about 6 to 8 feet tall and is best grown in medium to full sun, though mine has appeared to flower under a canopy of tall trees. It enjoys rich soil and regular applications of organic fertiliser. I tend to feed it with a handful of Australian bonemeal. The rhizomes form quickly, and when planted in a pot, tends to fill up almost the whole pot. Like the Musa laterita, it has runners and will pup some distance from the mother plant. For this reason, this species is best grown in a container or a confined space.