14 May

Artocarpus heterophyllus: the Jackfruit tree

Artocarpus heterophyllus or the Jackfruit tree, as it is popularly known, is an evergreen tree from tropical lowlands and rainforests of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is also grown in some parts of Africa, and the Americas for its foliage and fruit.

The jackfruit has a special significance in the history, culture, flora and lifestyle of the Southeastern countries of Asia where it is known by many names including Katthal, Pila and Panos. The tree has been grown in this region for several hundred years as an excellent source of food and timber. Even today, it is an important part of the local flora mainly because of its edible fruit which is one of the biggest tree-borne fruits. The round or oblong fruit grown on trunks and weights as heavy as 36 kg. Typically, the fruit has green skin dotted with small spikes. Inside the fruit is found jelly-like pulp that tastes like banana, apple and pineapple.

Jackfruit Tree, Artocarpus heterophyllus

Jackfruit Tree/ Image via flickr

The fruit is consumed ripe or unripe and eaten raw or cooked in several traditional recipes. Besides its fruit, the jackfruit tree is a good source of timber that is used in the manufacturing of furniture and other wooden items. The timber, when seasoned and polished, gives a rich mahogany-like look. Flowers of the jackfruit tree are quite unusual in shape. Both male and female flowers appear on the same tree in early spring.

Artocarpus heterophyllus grows into a large tree and produces dense foliage thus making it a good shade tree. Usually it prefers a rich soil under bright sunlight. In native rainforest, the jackfruit grows quickly to form a sturdy structure.

11 May

Small and Lovely Shrub for Landscapes: Pelargonium trifidum

Pelargonium trifidum is a small sprawling shrub from a large genus of tropical flowering plants, Pelargonium. The plant is known for its beautiful white and maroon flowers that often bloom in late summer.

Pelargonium trifidum

Pelargonium trifidum/ Image by Alan Gregg

Pelargonium trifidum is rather low-growing shrub with sprawling branches and brittle stems. The leaves are succulent and aromatic. When provided with proper support of a tree or fence, the plant can grow up to 1 meter.

Because of its growing habit, Pelargonium trifidum makes a good choice for growing in garden border or under the trees where its gets bright sunlight. As far as it is provided with moderate water and exposure to the sun, Pelargonium trifidum is quite easy to grow and maintain.

Pelargonium trifidum can be propagated from seeds in late summer or from softwood cutting any time of the year.

07 May

Lovely and Unusual, Clianthus puniceus: the Kaka Beak Flower

Clianthus is a beautiful tropical shrub with very lovely and unusual flowers. Originally native to the New Zealand, Clianthus belongs to the family of Golden Shower and the Orchid Tree, and grows easily in tropical climates – average watering, full to partial exposure to the sun and protection from long, frosty winters.

In its habit, Clianthus grows as a scrambling shrub that can reach up to 3 meters, produces evergreen foliage and clusters of claw-like flowers in summer. The unusual claw-like formation of its flowers gives the plant its common names – Kaka beak, lobster claw or parrot’s bill.

Clianthus puniceus, Kaka Beak

Clianthus puniceus/ Image by Tony Rodd

The most common and commercially grown species is Clianthus puniceus. It is an evergreen shrub which is perfect for growing in a warm and sunny spot where it can be grown in a well-drained soil. The claw-like flowers of red or pink color appear in summer. Typically, a mature plant bears flowers in small clusters that make the plant quite attractive and unusual.

Clianthus puniceus can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.

30 Apr

Teak Garden Furniture for Your Outdoor Living Space

Your outside space should be treated just like the inside. Your furniture, accessories, and of course, the plants that you choose can really make a difference to how your garden or outdoor space is perceived. Pay attention to the way your garden looks, feels and smells and it will be a beautiful place where you will want to spend time.

Outdoor Style

The world is your oyster when it comes to deciding which style you might like to go for. Britain’s climate means that a whole variety of different plants will grow and thrive here so you don’t have to go for an English country garden style every time.

English Country Garden

An English country garden doesn’t have to be strictly Victorian, instead, try a 1920s feel. Think traditional English flowers such as Forget-me-nots, Geraniums, Pansies and Snapdragons, but paired with art deco style wire furniture and an antique mirror or two. Arrange straight beds around a focal point such as a birdbath or a summerhouse.

Moroccan

Or alternatively a Moroccan style garden is a lovely relaxed place to be, with white walls and trellis style tiles, low tables and cushions for seats. Go for exotic plants in large terracotta plant pots and citrus plants. You can’t forget the essential for Moroccan style, a shimmering water feature. Think of an oasis, with a stone floor and leafy plants. Lanterns, stripy fabric on hand carved furniture and accessories like birdcages all work well to create a North African feel.

Japanese

Clean simple lines make Japanese gardens a place of sanctuary. The use of bamboo as separation and curved lines that mean you can’t see the whole thing at the same time, which adds interest and adds to the sense of mystery. Evergreens are a predominant feature of Japanese gardens as they rely on subtle differences in texture as well as color. A pavilion or tea house can be a feature in your garden where you can spend time entertaining or viewing your garden.

Teak Garden Furniture

Teak Garden Furniture

Cottage Style 

A cottage style garden is a garden that looks overgrown and untended. They are informal and free flowering, with traditional English flowers like roses, lavender and foxglove. Similar to the English country look, it differs in the fact that there is no structure. Homely furniture like teak garden furniture works really well and if it doesn’t match, all the better.  Cottage gardens also include wooden structures like arches for climbing plants to grow over.

So whatever your style might be, make sure it’s reflected in your garden too.

22 Apr

Lovely Tropical Climber: Ipomoea quamoclit

Ipomoea quamoclit, commonly known as Cypress Vine, is a delicate and fast-growing climber from the family of morning glory. Characterized by delicate, finely cut foliage and lovely scarlet flowers, Cypress Vine makes a good climber for growing against fences and trellises.

Ipomoea quamoclit,  Cypress Vine

Ipomoea quamoclit, Cypress Vine/ Image via flickr

Usually grown as an annual bloomer, this twining vine grows quite fast and grows up to 6 meters and produces smooth-textures foliage. Flowers of pink, red or scarlet colors appear in early summer. The fern-like foliage and small attractive flowers give a tremendous look to the plant. When in bloom, Ipomoea quamoclit attracts bees, birds and butterflies.

Ipomoea quamoclit has many common names including Cardinal Climber, Star Glory, Cypress Vine and Indian Pink.

Ipomoea quamoclit prefers partial to full sun and slightly moist soil all the time. The plant seeds itself freely and can become invasive in some climates.