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Beep Beep Boop…………… No more option to use the old way!

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This time we’ve had milder Summer in Melbourne area and so far the autumn weather has been cool and very pleasant. Two plants are thriving, Impatiens sodenii and Polka Dot Hypoestes. This two plants have been in our garden for quite a while and have become ignored and under appreciated, but if you look closely they are certainly too good to ignore and look very good in photos. They are easy to grow here in Melbourne and grow well in a shady spot.

Impatiens sodenii :

Impatiens sodenii 3

Impatiens sodenii

Synonyms: Impatiens oliveri,  Impatiens thompsonii

Impatiens sodenii is also known as Shrub Blasam, Oliver’s Touch Me Not or Poor Man Rhododendron. One of the tallest growing perennial plants in Balsam family, that can grow around 1.5 m tall. Though not as prolific as Busy Lizzy, Impatient sodenii has pretty large flowers all year around especially from Spring to Autumn.

Impatiens sodenii 2

Impatiens sodenii

Impatiens sodenii 4

Polka Dot Plant – Hypoestes phyllostachya

Polka Dot Plant - Hypoestes phyllostachya

Polka Dot Plant – Hypoestes phyllostachya

These herbaceous perennial plants have interesting freckled leaves that come in many different colours. Ours is the one that has green and silver colours. In cooler climate area like Melbourne, Polka Dot plant is suitable to grow in a bright room or veranda. To have deep spotting of the leaves, the plant needs stronger sunlight. Though it is mainly grown for the colourful foliage, the plant grows tiny flowers (about 1 cm long). The details of the small flower can be clearly seen in macro shot, no idea that they were hairy :)

Polka Dot Plant - Hypoestes phyllostachya

Polka Dot  Plant - foliage Polka Dot  Plant Polka Dot Plant - Hypoestes phyllostachya 3

Beep Beep Boop………….. It is not that bad, just have to get used to it. Thanks WordPress :)

Blush Tulip Oak

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Argyrodendron actinophyllum - Royal Botanic Gardens

Argyrodendron actinophyllum – Royal Botanic Gardens

What a handsome tree! I saw it at the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens.

Tree Descriptions (Queensland Agriculture & Fisheries):

  • Blush Tulip Oak, Booyong, Crowsfoot Elm, Blackjack (Argyrodendron actinophyllum ssp. actinophyllum)
  • Other tulip oaks include A. polyandrum, A. sp. aff. A. trifoliolatum, A. actinophyllum ssp. diversifolium, and A. sp. aff. A. peralatum.
  • The tulip oaks can grow up to 50 m in height. The bases of large trees are usually prominently buttressed. Leaves have white or silver on underside. A. actinophyllum ssp. actinophyllum and A. trifoliolatum occur in scrubs and rainforests along the east coast of Australia. (Queensland Agriculture & Fisheries).

Argyrodendron actinophyllum

Argyrodendron actinophyllum 2

Flowers and Seeds

Leaves, Flowers and Seeds (Picture from bunyanurseries.com)

Argyrodendron actinophyllum Sign

Meeting Titan Arum

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Titan arum Flower at the Royal Melbourne Botanic Garden 15/03/2015

Titan Arum Flower at the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens 15/03/2015

Today we went to see the Titan Arum flower at Tropical Glasshouse in the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens. The common name is Corpse Flower and the botanic name is Amorphophallus titanum. It was the second time for the plant to bloom, the first one was around Christmas Day back in 2012. Usually a Titan arum plant will flower about every 7 years, so it is really special for this rare plant to bloom again within 3 year period.

This time the flower was in full bloom yesterday Saturday March 14, and today it has started to wilt. The gigantic petal has started to close up. The good thing of seeing it not during full bloom is the less stench that the flower emits. When it is in full bloom, it will release very strong rotting meat smell to attract insects for the purpose of pollination. Yesterday the flower was measured 2.61 m high.

Titan Arum has started to close/wilt second day after full bloom 15/03/2015

Titan Arum has started to close/wilt second day after full bloom 15/03/2015

Long winding queue

Long winding queue

When we arrived at Gate E along Birdwood Ave, it was a short walk to the Tropical Glasshouse. It was a long queue and  took us around 1-1/2 hours (90 mins) to wait to get in. When we got inside the glasshouse, the bad smell had already started to fade. No need to cover our nose at all :) It was a pity that we could not stroll to see other parts of the garden as the parking limit was only for 2 hours.

Direction Board near Gate E - Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens

Direction Board near Gate E – Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens

Information Board

Not as stinky anymore

Not as stinky anymore

Looking at the TItan Arum

How it looks full bloom

How it looks full bloom

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For me, it was the second time I saw Amorphophallus flower. The first time was when I was still a child in our family property in Central Java. It was a very hot day, my sister and I felt like eating sweet juicy sugar cane. We asked one of the workers to cut some sugar canes that grew next to the house at that time. Suddenly the old man ran back and asked my sister and I to come and have a look. There hiding among the sugar cane plants, was a very large flower that look so strange and smelled so bad. In Indonesia Amorphophallus flower is called Bunga Bangkai which means Corpse Flower, while in Javanese language Titan arum plant is called ‘Suweg Raksasa’ (giant suweg). The name ‘Suweg’ actually refers not only to Titan Arum but also for other Amorphophallus species that grow in Java.

Bunga Suweg - Amorphophallus sp. This picture is similar to the one that I saw in my childhood, the spadix is thicker and dark maroon colour.

Bunga Suweg – Amorphophallus sp. This picture was similar to the one that I saw in my childhood, the spadix was thicker and dark maroon colour.

During my childhood back in 1950 – 1960s we often saw these plants that had very peculiar leaves and spotted stems. We nicknamed them ‘snake food plant’. Unfortunately it was only once we saw it bloom. I still remember the ‘very large, very tall and very smelly Suweg flower’ looked similar to the Titan Arum, but the long spadix was red meat colour and looked somewhat thicker.

Note: This blog was last edited 16/03/2015 4.32 PM

Previous blog about this plant:

https://kiyanti2008.wordpress.com/2008/12/06/corpse-flower/

Ficus Bonsai

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Ficus Bonsai 1: Our oldest bonsai after I cut the branches much shorter in an attempt to grow more leaves. It used to be lanky and the foliage only grew on the end of the branches, now it looks much better.

Ficus Bonsai March 2015 1 Ficus Bonsai March 2015 2

Ficus Bonsai March 2015 3

Ficus Bonsai March 2015 4

Ficus Bonsai 2:
Small Ficus Bonsai 2 Square

Small Ficus Bonsai 1 Square

Ficus Bonsai 3: Not very happy with this one, I will cut the branches shorter by the end of next winter or early spring.

Bonsai Ficus 1

Bonsai Ficus 2

Ficus Bonsai 4:

Small Ficus Bonsai 2

Small Ficus Bonsai 1

My bonsai trees still look young for their age, but at least they are quite small and grow in bonsai pots :)

Garden Early Autumn 2015

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Mushroom - Coprinus/Coprinellus disseminates growing under Jasminum sambac

Mushroom – Coprinus/Coprinellus disseminatus growing under Jasminum sambac

Summer this year was one of the mildest in a long time around Melbourne area, with only very few days of over 35 deg. C. This first week of autumn was cool with some cloudy and windy days and few rains. We  could not complain at all . Today was generally grey, about 22 deg. C with the sun that was too shy to show up.

It is too early for the leaves to change colour, but some Autumn flowers are blooming.

Choisya ternata – Mexican Orange Blossom:

We grew this plant long time ago, but only now that it is ‘really’ blooming with quite a few flowers. This slow growing plant from Mexico has white flowers, fragrant and very pretty. Usually it blooms during Spring to Summer, so it is a surprise to see ours is flowering now in the Autumn. Once established, it is very hardy and can tolerate high temperature and light frost.

Choysia ternata

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Choisya ternata – Mexican Orange Blossom

Murraya paniculata – Mock Orange:

Earlier towards the end of Summer, our Murraya had abundant flowers and the sweet scent could be enjoyed all around. I missed to take photos while the flowers were at their best, now it is only few flowers remained and most of the white petals have dropped.

Murraya paniculata 2

Murraya paniculata - Mock Orange,- Kemuning

Murraya paniculata – Mock Orange,- Kemuning

Duranta repens “Geisha Girl':

This time I let the Duranta grows out of control, usually it is always neatly clipped into a ball shape. The result is that it blooms much more than usual. I have to put up with the untidy look, once it has finish flowering later I will give it a good cut :)

Duranta 'Geisha Girl' 2

Duranta repens 'Geisha Girl'

Duranta repens ‘Geisha Girl’

Yellow Kniphofia:

For the last two years this plant did not flower at all, I think it was caused by the scorching heat of the summer. Now it is growing flowers but the stems are much shorter than usual, but they are still very pretty nonetheless. The original photos have ugly old fence background, so I edited the photos and give them white and black background :)

Kniphofia - yellow

Yellow Kniphofia

Yellow Kniphofia

Sedum telephium ‘Autumn Joy':

As it is mentioned in the name, Sedum “Autumn Joy’ will flower during Autumn. Like most other succulents, it is very easy to grow and will always flower every year.

Sedum telephium 'Autumn Joy'.jpg 2

Sedum telephium 'Autumn Joy'

Sedum telephium ‘Autumn Joy’

Washington Hawthorn / Washington Thorn – Crataegus phaenopyrum : The Autumn Berries, not fully ripe yet. When they do ripe, birds will eat them. How silly I was to think about making hawthorn berries and loquat jam as they are available in different time. Loquats ripen around Winter and early Spring.

Washington Hawthorn Berries

Washington Hawthorn Berries

2 Small Trees for a Small Courtyard

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Japanese maple - nice garden decor.2

The other day I saw one of the most beautiful courtyards with a very minimal use of plants and decoration. The focal points of the narrow and enclosed courtyard consist of a big pot in the centre and a Japanese Maples tree on each sides. To accentuate the view, garden spot-lightings were installed and they create a soft romantic feeling at night. There is no lawn, instead the ground is covered with pieces of crushed white granite stones.

I am not so sure what kind of Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum sp. ) they are, but they have smooth white trunk. The trees are pruned nicely so that the branches grow close to the main trunk. Being grown in an enclosed position all around, the maple trees are protected from harsh heat of Melbourne summer and the trees grow beautifully. This kind of garden design is very suitable for a small yard setting and for those who are too busy to look after a more conventional garden with a lot of plants and lawn.

Japanese maple - nice garden decor

Note: Thank you Kus… for your stunning courtyard :)

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Crepe Myrtle - Lagerstroemia indica

Lately I noticed that many Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica sp) trees were newly planted along side Springvale rd. Though both the Crepe myrtle and the Japanese Maples have some similarities like for examples that they are both deciduous, small and have pretty autumn leaves, there are two big differences. Crepe Myrtles enjoy full sun position and tolerate hot sun, Japanese maples hate direct hot summer sun. Crepe Myrtles are grown for the beautiful and long lasting flowers but Japanese maple flowers are small and insignificant. I can imagine both of these trees can make a beautiful addition for a small yard setting.

Most of the newly planted Crepe Myrtles along side the road are still small, but most of them have already grown pretty ruffled crepe-like pink flowers. The strong hot sun does not seem to bother these beautiful trees. No signs of wilted flowers nor stressed foliage and the flowering time is quite long.

From what I have read online, the new hybrid of Crepe Myrtles (Indian Summer range) are tougher as they can resist the powdery mildew/fungal problem which is often attack the old breed. According to the garden guru Don Burke, the new hybrids  have Indian tribe names such as.

Acoma – white flowers
Tonto – deep pink flowers
Zuni – mauve flowers
Sioux – carmine pink flowers
Yuma – pale pink flowers  etc…

Crepe Myrtle  Flowers

Crepe Myrtle - Lagerstroemia indica  along side the street

Crepe Myrtle – Lagerstroemia indica along side the street

Note: In USA, the common spelling is ‘Crape’ Myrtle.

Garden – February 2015

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A big brown dragon fly that I spotted few days in our garden

A big brown dragon fly that I spotted few days ago in our garden

We had the coldest December and January in Melbourne as long as I could remember. These two months of summer, the temperatures were mostly under 25 deg. C.  It was only last night that we could fold the doona away and the warm summer eventually has arrived. The weather forecast today is 35 deg. C, but until now at 11.20 AM it is only 29 deg. C. Hopefully the clouds will linger the rest of the day to make the temperature feel cooler.

Golden Diosma in the shape of pot with lid

Golden Diosma in the shape of pot with lid

The Golden Diosma (Coleonema palchellum/pulchrum Aurea) plants benefit cooler summer as high temperature and humid condition make them suffer from scorching leaves and fungal problems. The last few years some of our Diosmas had these problems, though they fully recovered when the weather was cooler.

  • Not suitable for tropical condition as the heat and the humid condition will make the plant loose foliage due to fungal problems and scorching.
  • Fragrant leaves.
  • Small pinkish blooms from July to October.
  • Suitable for hedges and regular trimming is necessary to prevent it from growing scraggly.
Diosma Flowers

Diosma Flowers

Golden Diosma

Golden Diosma

Hydrangea – The other plant in our garden that benefits cooler summer weather is Hydrangea. This plant with pretty flowers hates heat and strong sun light. This shade loving plant  will grow better in cooler climate. To have blue flowers the soil has to be acid with pH 5 or less and bluing tonic that consists of aluminium and iron can be used. If you fancy pink better, alkaline soil is needed, pH 7 or more and this can be achieved by adding lime. This is how our Hydrangea flowers look like without adding anything to the soil, they are kind of light purple and we are quite happy with it.

Hyderange

Hyderange 3

Hyderangea

Hydrangea

Jasminum sambac/Arabian Jasmine: One year since I have bought it and it is still in the original pot. I put it under the veranda and it did not drop leaves during the winter. Now it is growing taller, so I guess it is semi climbing type of Jasmine. It has quite a few flowers, but they are smaller and I think it is caused by cool temperature, not enough heat to grow larger. I had applied some fertiliser but it did not help with the flower size.

Jasminum sambac - Arabian Jasmine

Jasminum sambac - Arabian Jasmine plant

Jasminum sambac – Arabian Jasmine plant

Blooming Water Lilies:

Pink Water Lilies

Water Lily - Creamy colour

Odd shape Mirror Bush/Coprosma repens. At first I made it look like a bird but the beak sticked stuck out too much towards the driveway. Hubby complained it scratched his car, so now the poor bird is without a beak.

Beakless Bird - Mirror Bush/Coprosma repens

Beakless Bird – Mirror Bush/Coprosma repens

Mirror Bush - Coprosma repens

Mirror Bush – Coprosma repens

The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte.”
― Vera Nazarian

 

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