Monday, November 3, 2014

Beautiful but deadly...

As I was walking towards to see the Sculpture by the Sea, an annual outdoor display of sculpture (over 100 separate works) distributed along the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk, I had to stopped to take a photo of this beautiful oleander plant with its dense foliage providing privacy for its owner. Even on a very busy city road these plants can make a colourful screen against both noise and visual pollution. Hence its popularity as an hedge among home gardeners. I also noticed that it is a favourite outdoor shrub, popular for its evergreen qualities and delicate flowers in many houses around Sydney's famous Bondi Beach. Or is it because these plants easily cope by the seaside, not seeming to be worried with salt laden air; in arid hot conditions, and even where the drainage is poor .
With all those beautiful colours, perfume and toughness why I have recommended you do not plant it in your garden? The answer is that it is said to be poisonous - if you choose to eat it.
Oleander poisoning occurs when someone sucks nectar from the flowers or chews leaves from the oleander. How do I know? Because I googled this information for you.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

How the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Plant Got Its Name

With the recent popularity of lifestyle shows featuring garden makeovers we have begun to see a new type of poisoning case in our homes. Many of us do not know many beautiful plants such as this Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow plant, or Brunfelsia latifolia, we planted in our garden are poisonous and toxic. It got its common name because of its fragrant and tri-colour of purple, lavender and white blooms. This unique plant creates variegated clusters of colour and breathtaking beauty when all three shades are present.
These flowers last for three days and change color with each day. The first day they are purple (yesterday), the second day they change to a pastel lavender shade (today), and on the third day they change to an almost white color (tomorrow). Because each flower lasts for three days and goes through this colorful transformation, it is easy to tell whether it is a yesterday bloom or a shade representing today and tomorrow.
While these flowers are pretty, offer months of blooms and give off a sweet-smelling fragrance, it is important to note that these plants also contain poisonous alkaloids and may not be the best choice for households with young children. Seeds from the flowers are poisonous and berries from the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow plants are especially toxic. To avoid accidental poisoning, caution should be taken and extra safety measures put into place such as adult supervision when toddlers, young children or pets are playing outdoors.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cattleya Orchids in bloom.

Our Cattleya orchid plant has put up a showy performance for which South American is famous for. This South American native orchid is widely known for its large, showy flowers. It is also called the “corsage orchid” because it is often used in corsages and wedding bouquets. Even though it is not so common to wear corsages anymore, my wife Jo could not help but to hang it in our veranda as a floral decoration for our dinner guests this evening.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I found this Redback spider when I lifted a flower pot in my backyard this morning. Usually I leave it alone but I quickly trapped it in a glass jar, since I remembered a newly arrived Singaporean family living in a nearby suburb has requested me to show them a live Redback if I come across one. I quickly rushed it to their house but I could not persuade the Mrs of the house to take a closer look even I was holding it in a glass jar in my hand. She then rushed into her house and came back holding a can of insect spray. No way, I will allow this beautiful Australian icon from being killed although the female red-back is certainly not adversed to making a meal out of the hapless, smaller male of the species after mating. I can't help but to think that our Singaporean mum must have grown up watching Mortein advertisements and now took it as her maternal duty to eradicate every flying and crawling insects in the world. I can understand her fear, as the Redback spider (Latrodectus hasseltii) is one of Australia's most venomous spiders. It's found across Australia including Tasmania. The redback spider is closely related to the black widow spider of the United States and the katipo of New Zealand
It is often found in outdoor dunnys, letter boxes, under logs and rocks and other dark areas. The Redback spider is most active at dusk and during the night as the weather gets warmer. It is easy to spot a Redback because the female red-back is black with a distinctive "hour glass" red or orange marking on its back, hence its name. Only the female bite is dangerous. They can cause serious illness and have caused deaths. However, since Redback Spiders rarely leave their webs, humans are not likely to be bitten unless a body part such as a hand is put directly into the web, and because of their small jaws many bites are ineffective. Please be careful and wear a pair gloves when doing your gardening chores.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I have received five similar messages asking me on how to grow and care for orchids since I posted these exotic neon bright Dendrobium Nobiles in our FB page. Like many of you, I have always been fascinated by these elegant and exotic plants which have hypnotised gardeners for ages. Many orchid blooms look so glamorous you might suppose that only experts could produce such a beautiful specimen. To be honest, these dazzling stunning beauty of orchids initially makes me orchid-shy because the thought of growing and nurturing orchids seems a difficult and mysterious chore for me to pursue.

Beginning orchid growers find themselves seduced by the gorgeous beauty with showy blossoms could not help but to spend their weekends to look for them in speciality orchid nurseries, botanical gardens or mail order catalogues. Before you put them in your cart and swipe your credit card, the most important is to realise that raising these orchids may call for you to explore some of the technical aspects of orchid growing in same climate zone you are now living in, perhaps the first thing is imitating the orchids natural climate and diet will encourage them to prosper. Remember how difficult you survived and experienced your first winter living outside Singapore and the homesickness of longing for your comfort food of home. Growing orchid in your home means you must provide temperatures within the range that the plant comfortably grows. However with a bit of TLC, the list of requirements is much the same as any plants, and with practice and armed with a few basic cultivation rules of providing the right amount of water, humility, temperature, light level, potting mix and light level, your orchids will reward you with blooming successes.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Spring has sprung...

Spring has sprung and we have been rewarded with abundance of nature gifts. What better place could there be to place a chair and to sit and enjoy the peaceful productivity of our garden? Surrounded by our plants and trees, we take springtime to sit in our garden and observe the play of sunlight and wind on the plants and vegetation. Watch how the insects interact with our plants, and consider what we are going to harvest next ...