Cereus Cactus

I inherited this beautiful plant from previous owner of the house we purchased.  It did not bloom for several years.  I repotted and fertilized in  the hope it will bloom.

Pure white flowers the size of a dinner plate open as soon as the sun go down and stay open all night, then it close in the morning.  My Epiphylum Oxypetalum in Latin or night blooming cereus will give an intoxicating fragrance that permeate the room where the flower is.

It blooms in waves during the summer months with sometimes as many as 15 flower at once.  a magnificent creation by nature leaves us in awe by this elegant Cereus.  A member of orchid cactus family, it needs period of dryness and cool time temperature in the winter to ensure summer bloom.  It is indeed a gorgeous flower.

 

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C night bloom

Orchid The Jungle Queen

Orchid, exotic from the far east.  Exquisite , dainty, fragile, simply gorgeous.  my late father an orchid enthusiast had well over 100+ plants in his collection.  As I am the photographer in the family, I captured these beauty every time I am in his garden.

Caring orchid in the tropic which is their environment is easy, but in another part of the world thy need a lot of pampering.  More important humidity, warm temperature, no soil needed just add bark in their container.  In the wild orchid grows latched on to trees, they absorbed food through their leaves.

I remember as a child growing up in the tropic, when my mother needed vanilla, she would go to the garden and harvested the slender dark bean.  fresh vanilla has a strong distinctive taste.  So delicious taste better than those bottled vanilla extract.  these photos taken all with film Canon SLR macro lens.

 

 

 

Elegant Peonies

Peonies are beautiful flowers.  With a sweet scent similar to roses.  Bloom in mid spring until early summer.  Did you know that peonies make superb cut flowers ?  The variety that grow in my garden is “Festiva Maxima” it has an old fashion rose fragrance.  Intoxicating scent through the whole area where the flowers grows.  Some varieties are fragrant.  Others have no fragrance at all, and a few tend to have an unpleasant bitter scent.  the “Festiva Maxima” produces large, white double blooms with a crimson flecks in the center.  Somewhat peculiar , though ants like to gather on the flowers.  Perhaps the sweet scent.

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When making your vase arrangement, harvest the flowers as early in the morning as possible.  Using a sharp knife or prunner,  cut the stems so they are 18 inches long.  Be sure to leave at least two leaves on each remaining stem and never remove more than on half of the flowers from a single plant.  This allows the plants to continue to photosynthesize.

If you to use the flowers in an arrangement immediately, select blooms that are almost fully open.  If you want a bouquet that lasts longer select flowers in various stages of opening.

 

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Peacocks in cherry blossoms

Bagatelle gardens, Paris with their peacock showing off their gorgeous plumage.   The birds enjoying their leisure time among cherry blossom trees.    They roost on tree and nest on ground.  India chose blue peacock as their national bird, often you can find these birds in royal palaces.

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Daffodils Reflections of Spring sunshine

“I wandered lonely as a cloud. That floats on high o’er vales and hills. When all at once I saw a crowd.   A host, of golden daffodils”  -William Wordsworth-

A description of how daffodils seen by William Wordsworth, an English romantic poet from the 18th century.

 

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Daffodils and other narcissi and their color range from cream, white, yellow, orange and even salmon.  Some cultivar are big and bold and others are small enough to make an important contribution to window box and rock garden.

Most garden variety of the daffodil are descendant of the wild narcissus.  There are now more than 9000+ varieties of narcissi, grouped into a number of divisions according to flower shape and color.

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The word “narcissus” is used to describe varieties with a short central cup, even though the large cupped and trumpet daffodils are also botanically narcissus.

Daffodil bulbs are reliable, adaptable and easy to grow when left undisturbed in the soil for at least three years, it will produce  increase of flowers each season.  Not only they are hardy and beautiful, their bitter-tasting bulb repels rodents.  Besides the daffodil is one of the best bulbs for naturalizing in the garden.  Because it grows under deciduous trees and in open woodlands.

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Before deciding where to plant daffodils, you need to carefully prepared the site .  Mix well-rotted compost into the soil and let it settle for several days before planting.  Then, mix bone meal into the planting area 5 pounds per 100 square feet.

 

 

Plant narcissi from September onwards and no later than the end of October.  Partial shade is ideal, but full sun  tolerated.  As long as the soil is fertile and reasonably moist.  Allow the plants to grow on for at least six weeks, after flowering before cutting the leaves back.  This way the bulbs  will have sufficient energy for next year bloom.  Propagate by dividing clumps of bulbs after the leaves have died and replant in the fall.

 

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Indonesia at a glance

Bali Island landscape

 

Arched gracefully between two continents of Asia and Australia is a vast archipelago of 17,000 islands with the musical name of “Nusantara” better known as Indonesia.  The islands were blessed with spectacular natural beauty, including majestic volcanoes falling steeply to crystal clear highlands, lakes forested gorges, rocky highlands and golden beaches.

Indonesia was discovered by Portuguese traders in the early 16th century.  Then the Dutch came, ousted Portuguese.  Because of Indonesia bountiful spices and other commodities, the Dutch established their presence on Java island and gradually to the rest of the islands.  The Dutch colonized Indonesia for 350 year.

Jakarta capital of Indonesia was named Batavia by the Dutch.  There are still many old Dutch buildings in downtown Jakarta close to  China town.   Also a functioning draw bridge similar in Holland heading to “Pasar Ikan” or fish market where there are several Dutch colonial storage buildings.  It is a tourist attraction now.

During the war in Asia, The Dutch surrender the islands to Imperial Japan.  They occupied  the islands for three years.  After their country destruction from the atomic bomb, they surrender to the Dutch.    The Dutch did not colonized the islands any longer.  Indonesia received independent on August 17, 1945,   with President   Soekarno and prime minister Hatta for Indonesian finally became a free country.

The islands having large variety of plants, animal life, both aquatic and terrestrial.  Among its rare species are the Orangutan primate, the Komodo dragon (giant lizard).  Another assets of Indonesia is its people, rich in colorful cultures and traditions inherited from the dawn of civilization.  Indonesians are divides into approximately 300 ethnic groups, speaking about 365 languages and dialects.   By decree from President Soekarno that all Indonesian have only one language to communicate with each other  that is “Bahasa Indonesia”.

Indonesians are well known for their friendliness , politeness and hospitality.

The country motto “Bhineka Tunggal Ika”  unity in Diversity.

 

 

 

 

Photography by Kalpana Kartik and Kamala Saraswathi  Copyright

 

Pond Dwellers………..

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Mallard the common wild duck, ancestor of almost every breed of domestic duck.  In the wild it is an opportunistic feeder, eating snails, aquatic insects, grasshoppers, fish eggs anything the mallard could find.  These birds are a common sight on the pond.  They are permanent residence on all water sites.

Male has glossy green head, bill yellow, wing patch blue.  Female sandy brown, bill molted orange.  Their habitat, lakes, marshes, ponds, swamps and parks.

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Female nests in a down lined hollow of grass and stems hidden vegetation near water.  Incubation 26 to 29 days.  Young duckling leave nest soon after hatching.  Their first fly about 8 weeks.  I live near a pond, when nesting season is in full swing.  Occasionally while walking close to the edge of the pond I discovered a nest with 4 eggs.  This time no sight of female duck.  I left then went back an hour later, there she was laying on her eggs.

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Mother duck and ducklings
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Mother duck and duckling

Mother duck with their ducklings taken on my property close to the pond.

WOOD DUCKS, Aix Sponsa

Enchanting wood ducks,  A crow size duck.  Male   with colorful markings and female has bold white eye patch.  Both are gorgeous ducks.  Usually seen in small flocks, but may form a larger flocks in winter.  When a wood duck startled by a slight noise, off they fly like a rocket.  It is amazing how strong they are to propel out of the water with a quick motion.  Female wood duck will hatch from 8 to 14 eggs, incubation 28 to 32 days by female only.

Although born as high to 50 feet above ground in a tree cavity, the little one soon scramble out on a tiny clawed feet and take their first anxious leap into thin air floating downward like puff balls to where their mother waits to take them for their firs swim of their life.

Once awhile human will help the female duck with nesting.  A nesting box will be provided near the edge of water.  Their habitat wooded swamps, ponds and marshes.  They feed on aquatic plants, nuts, fruit, insects and small fish.

Wood duck nesting box attached on to a tree close to pondWood duck nesting box attached on to a tree close to the edge of a pond.

RING NECK DUCK, Aythya collris

they usually gathered on the pond autumn through late winter.  A small diving duck who probe the bottom of the pond for seeds and tubers of water plants.  Male bright white ring around neck hence its name..  Gray bill is best field mark chestnut collar visible only at close range.  Female,  gray brown, eye ring whitish, bill gray with white band.

Their habitat, ponds, lakes in wooded countryside, marches and estuaries.  they are such a joy to watch.  Diving under water at least a minute to forage, then, appear  above water.  Soon they will be off again to another pond looking for food.

The pond is a gathering place for all waterfowl, a sanctuary for these creatures to enjoy without being disturbed by anyone.

Ring neck ducks

 

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