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Archive for July, 2010

Nepenthes rafflesiana – I can take it or leave it. Maybe it’s the shape of the pitcher that doesn’t appeal to me.

But when crossed with ampullaria, the resultant hybrid is a winner.

The oval, sometimes globular, shape of the ampullaria is distinct in the hybrid hookeriana. So too is the wide peristome.

What I love about the hook, as I call it, is its form. I love the rounded hooks best.

But really round ones are hard to come by and are tagged with formidable prices.

..

Most hooks are speckled, while some come in pure unadulterated colours. I love hooks that look like delicious ripened apples, the redder the better.

Lately, I’ve seen pink, purple, bronze and even gorgeously black hooks. Unfortunately they are all as rare as hen’s teeth.

Some hooks have green peristomes, some red, purple, yellow – you name it. Imagine the wonder of God’s creation and the innumerable combinations that can be found. Imagine collecting them all.

One needs to exercise some form of self-restraint though – unless of course, one has a yard the size of a football field and pockets a mile deep.

Since I do not have either, I’ll just be thankful for the hooks I do have.

Care and propagation: mix of peat moss, pine bark, sand and perlite; moss topping; bright light, slightly shielded from the hot afternoon sun; water generously. Propagate using cuttings or by separating basal plants.

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I was as pleased as punch when I bought the Adenium Obesum (AO) Purple Rain. I thought I had found the ultimate AO, until I saw a picture of the Triple Amazing Thailand.

It was on the internet, and it was just incredible. It was the sweetest pink colour. Irresistible. The Triple Amazing Thailand (TAT) put the Purple Rain in the shade.

……

But it was out of reach … it would probably be a couple of years before it reached our shores.

So when I saw pots of TAT at a garden centre, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Surprisingly the TAT was even cheaper than the Purple Rain. I was thrilled. Mum was suspicious and skeptical. “Maybe there’s something wrong with it,” she said, looking dubiously at a brown patch on one of the buds.

I pooh-poohed her fears; I wasn’t about to let TAT slip through our fingers. It was worth the risk, I thought. So I carried our booty and floated home on cloud nine.

Weeks passed. Fortunately, Mum’s fears were unfounded.

The buds are swirls of pink that unfurl to reveal daffodil-like blooms.

The outer crepe-like petals are the lightest shade of pink with a darker streak down the centres. Overlapping petals, a couple of shades darker, form its fluted heart.

I can spend hours gazing at its pink perfection. It’s a beauty; an Amazing beauty …

Care and propagation: light, well-drained media; full sun; water sparingly; propagate using seeds or cuttings

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My sister has a clump of Asystasia Coromandeliana in her garden. It’s beautiful, she says. I wanted to pull the weeds and replace them with some nicer Asystasia but she championed them. I can see why though – the small, delicate white flowers can look quite fetching when seen en masse.

Discounting this wild variety, there are another 4 types of Asystasia in our garden. The first to find a home with us was the purple Asystasia Intrusa.

Then came the pink one. This was sold at a ridiculous price when it first hit the scene. But my sis couldn’t resist the color. I decided to settle for a cutting instead …

One day, I chanced upon the A. Gangetica. The light lilac flowers were about thrice the size of the Intrusa. I picked a limp and discarded cutting nearby and hoped I wasn’t too late. I planted it but wasn’t sure if the cutting made it until it bloomed.  

The Asystasia has weak stems so mixed planting is recommended. I grow this amongst other plants like melampodium, otacanthus caeruleus and angelonia so that the plants can support each other.

Just when I thought I’d seen it all, my neighbor showed me her Asystasia Mysorensis and said it was edible. She picked me a huge bunch of the luxuriantly green vegetable.

The A. Mysorensis makes a great soup and is a firm family favorite. We cleared some space for it so that we could have a constant supply. Googling, I found out that the other Asystasia varieties appear to be edible too! But for now, I’ll just stick to the familiar ….

The Asystasia is easy to maintain, needing just an occasional pruning to keep them tidy. It’s a great fuss-free addition to the garden yielding something that pleases the eye as well as the palate.

Care and propagation:  most soil types ranging from loam to clayey soil; partial shade to full sun; water moderately. propagate using  stem cuttings

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