06 Aug

Olinia ventosa, the Hard Pear Tree

Olinia ventosa or Hard Pear is a graceful tree with glossy green leaves and tiny white flowers. Native to South Africa, Olinia ventosa grows as a tall and evergreen forest tree. However, when grown in gardens it matures into a small tree.

Olinia ventosa

Olinia ventosa, the Hard Pear tree

Olinia ventosa is a good choice for landscapes and gardens for its decent foliage, fragrant flowers, and shady canopy. The tree is quite hardy and tolerates drought and neglect. Flowers, though insignificant, bloom profusely in spring and emit almonds-like fragrance. Clusters of tiny white flowers attract birds butterflies that visit the tree for its fruit and nectar.

Besides its horticultural use, Olinia ventosa is a good source of quality timber which is used in manufacturing of fine furniture.

Olinia ventosa prefers regular soil mix but can survive poor soil conditions as well. Propagation can be done from seeds. Young plants grow slowly but once established, Olinia ventosa grows rapidly and forms vigorous roots and branch system.

06 Aug

Lovely Flowering Vine for Tropical Garden: Distictis buccinatoria

Distictis is a small genus of flowering vines from tropical regions of West Indies and the Americas. These evergreen and sun-loving vines grow rapidly and produce showy flowers in spring and summer. Their fresh green foliage and attractive flowers make them a good choice for tropical gardens. The plants in the genus of Distictis have vigorous roots systems and tendrils that help these vines climb up trellis, fences, trees and walls. That is why Distictis is a popular flowering vines among gardeners and horticulturists.

Distictis buccinatoria

Distictis buccinatoria, Image by Mark Pilbeam

How to Grow Distictis buccinatoria

Distictis buccinatoria is commonly described as Red Trumpet Vine because of its showy orange-red flowers that bloom in abundance during the months of summer and spring. Distictis buccinatoria can grow up to 30 feet. It is easy to train and prune this lovely flowering vine, that is why it is a good choice for growing in gardens, balconies, or patios to get a year round foliage and decent summer flowering. It benefits from regular watering, full to partial sun, and occasional fertilization with a general purpose fertilizer. Young plants require regular watering but they become drought tolerant and they mature. Distictis buccinatoria can be propagated from cuttings in a sandy to loamy soil.

Other popular species in this genus include Distictis laxiflora (Vanilla Trumpet Vine) and Distictis ‘Rivers’ , which is a pink flowering hybrid of  Distictis buccinatoria.

30 Jul

Lovely Shrub for Gardens: Myrtus communis (Myrtle)

Today’s featured plant is Myrtus communis – an excellent ornamental shrub from the Mediterranean regions of the world. Commonly known as Myrtle or Greek myrtle, this beautiful shrub has been in cultivation as long as the days of ancient Roman Empire where it was an essential garden element. Today, Myrtle is known for its beautiful and fragrant foliage.

Myrtus communis

Myrtle (Myrtus communis), Image by Tim Waters

Myrtus communis has a bushy growth. The plant produces glossy green leaves that emit strong fragrance when crushed.  Summer is the time of full bloom when small clusters of small fluffy flowers are borne on Myrtle – making it the center of attraction.

Myrtus communis is good for containers as well as landscape plant. When grown in containers, it serves as a nice accent plant for patios. Besides its bushy growth, Myrtus communis can be easily pruned to any shape. That is why it is often used in designing topiary designs.

Myrtle is easy to grow as it does not have any special requirement. The plant requires a regular soil mix, full to partial sun, and moderate watering. In fact, it can be grown as a drought tolerant plant in rock gardens or xeriscapes.

Myrtus communis can be propagated from cuttings.

24 Jul

My Garden Accessories Wishlist

Now that the month of fasting starts, I really do not get enough time and energy to attend to my garden regularly. My pastime these days is shopping accessories for my garden – umm… not shopping – in fact building my garden accessories wishlist.

I do not have a big garden; in fact, I have a small rooftop garden (20×30 square feet) that accommodates my collection of Agaves, Howarthias, Aloes and other succulents. I am planning to spice up the place with some decorative objects, some garden furniture and a couple of practical garden accessories.

Here goes my garden accessories wishlist for 2012:

Myto Chair: This is the top thing in my wishlist. I love this lightweight chair because of its ergonomic design. Made from recyclable material, Myto Chair can be easily stalked up and moved. So, this is possibly the best garden furniture that I can add to my small garden.

Myto Chair

Halley Solar Lamp – I just love thing solar lamp because it can be easily configured in different styles and direction. It is lightweight, portable and stylish.

Halley Solar Lamp

Wingspaces Timelapse Camera – I do not get much time to attend to my garden (half an hour before leaving for work in the morning and about an hour at night). So I often miss my blooming succulents (they usually bloom in the afternoon). This nifty and waterproof timelapse camera can take photos automatically for creating a timelapse movie of moments that I often miss – a practical garden accessory indeed.

Timelapse Garden Camera

Relaxing Hammock – I do not have sufficient space for this relaxing hammock for I seriously want this in my garden. 😛

Relaxing Hammock

Outdoor Thermometer/Humidity Gauge – May be this should be at the top of my garden accessories wishlist. It measures temperature and humidity (with daily highs and lows) on a digital display.

Acurite Humidity Monitor

Wheelbarrow Set – With changing seasons and new plants coming in, I often have to move my plants. They are either planted in large containers (old Agaves, Yuccas and some cacti) and many of the plants (Haworthias etc.) are in small pots. Thus moving them around is really tiresome. This lightweight and sturdy wheelbarrow would be a very practical garden accessory.

Wheelbarrow

23 Jul

Magnolia grandiflora, Lovely Flowering Tree for Warm Climates

Magnolia is a large genus of deciduous and evergreen trees that are popular for their beautiful and scented flowers. This is also one of the longest surviving trees on the planet dating back to about 95 million years ago, that is why mention of Magnolia is found in ancient as well as modern culture and literature. Long before it was introduced in horticulture, Magnolia has been used in China and Japan in traditional medicine.

The genus primarily belongs to Southeast Asia but grows natively in many parts of the world including the Americas and West Indies.

Magnolia Tree

Magnolia Tree, Image by serenithyme(flickr)

Today, Magnolia is popular among horticulturists and gardeners as an excellent flowering tree. The waxy flowers are known for their beautiful shape and colors and intoxicating fragrance. That is why, it has also been extensively hybridized to produce various new varieties with a broad range of colorful flowers. The most popular and widely cultivated species is Magnolia grandiflora which is an evergreen species with large leathery leaves and magnificent flowers. The plant can grow up to 6 meters in cultivation and as tall as 30 meters in wild. The foliage and flowers vary greatly according to the growing conditions. The size of leaves, flowers and the tree itself depends on the conditions of light, water and soil.

Popular Varieties of Magnolia grandiflora

A number of popular cultivars of Magnolia grandiflora are also commercially available. These include:

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Goliath’ – Nice flowering tree with bushy growth and extended flowering season.

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Exmouth’ – Fast growing tree with green, leathery leaves. Flowers are large and strongly scented.

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ – A dwarf and slow growing cultivar with a columnar shape which reaches around 4.25 m, prolonged flowering cycle in warmer climate.

Generally, Magnolias prefer fertile and slightly acidic soil, plenty of water and good exposure to sunlight. Young plants of Magnolia need protection from strong winds.

21 Jul

Pisonia umbellifera, the Bird Catcher Tree

Pisonia is a genus of shrubs and small trees suitable for gardens as a specimen plant. The plant is grown for its foliage though is known for its sticky fruits that often trap insects and small birds – this giving it its common name – Bird Cather Tree.

Pisonia umbellifera Variegata

Pisonia umbellifera 'Variegata', Image by Joel Abroad

Pisonia is majorly represented by variegated variety of Pisonia umbellifera. It grows as a small tree (up to 4 meters) and produces fresh green leaves with blotches of cream color. The beautiful foliage of Pisonia umbellifera ‘Variegata’ makes it a nice ornamental plant for gardens. The plant is evergreen and produces clusters of yellow flowers in early summer.

Pisonia umbellifera ‘Variegata’ is sensitive to cold and frost, thus grown as greenhouse plant in colder climates. In its native climate of Indo-Pacific region it grows as evergreen plant which is propagated from stems cutiings. Pisonia umbellifera ‘Variegata’ requires partial shade and moderate water.

19 Jul

Sedum album, the Coral Carpet

Sedum album or Coral Carpet is a low-growing and very attractive plant for containers as well as a mat-forming ground cover. The plant is known for its small, mossy and succulent foliage that makes this plant look like coral from the oceans. Sedum album or Coral Carpet makes an excellent ground cover because of its shiny and dark-green leaves that turn red in winter. Since it is frost hardy, it is used in rock gardens, containers or garden landscapes for a year-round effect.

Sedum album, Coral Carpet

Sedum album (Coral Carpet), Image by William Kirby

Sedum album spreads horizontally and effectively covers empty areas with its succulent growth and tiny, star-shaped flowers of white or pinkish color. Flowers usually appear in midsummer.

Sedum album is a good plant for a beginner’s collection. It only requires bright sunlight, and loamy but well-drained soil. Water moderately in summer but only occasionally in winter when it turns red. New plants can be produced from leaves that root easily and grow into small plants. When grown in containers, repot your plant every other year in spring.

18 Jul

Antigonon leptopus, the Coral Vine

Antigonon is a small genus of creeping vines grown for their lovely pink flowers that appear in midsummer till fall. The most popular plant from this genus is Antigonon leptopus that comes from Mexico and Central America and is commercially known as Coral Vine or Mexican Creeper.

Antigonon leptopus, the Coral Vine

Antigonon leptopus (Coral Vine), Image by Tatiana Gerus

Antigonon leptopus is a fast growing vine that can climb supporting walls, pergolas or trees and produces small clusters of pink flowers. Ideal for growing in gardens, against walls, or over pergolas, Antigonon leptopus grows up to 40 feet. Heart-shaped leaves and vigorous growth of tendrils makes it easy for this creeping vine to cover empty spaces very quickly.

Antigonon leptopus requires full to partial sun, regular watering and a loamy soil in which it can establish its tuberous roots.

Antigonon leptopus can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.