Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bali's gates and gardens

Here are more photos of the gardens and gates in Bali. They are everywhere. Downtown as well as in the villages. They are an integral part of the landscape and very much add to the surroundings. The wood and stone work are beautifully intricate. Fitting testimony to their Hindu culture. Their faith is everywhere from the decorative pieces to the little daily offerings put outside the door to the active participation in prayer and temple ceremonies.

As a tropical country, it gets very hot. We were there during the dry season, so it was dusty too. However, there was greenery everywhere. Although the stonework was in every direction, it never stood alone and austere. It was always surrounded by plants in some form or another adding charm and mystery to the scene.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bali 1

My oldest daughter and I have just been on a three day trip to Bali. It was my first time there and I was quite excited. Bali is a Hindu culture in an Islamic country. So I wanted to see the differences in aesthetics and gardening, and it didn't let me down.

With only a few days there, we didn't have a lot of time, but we went on a tour of their batik, carving and silver crafts. They were really beautiful - and amazing. I learned that in their weaving the woven pattern is pre-dyed onto the thread before it's woven and as I'm not a weaver and don't know how it's done, it just blew me away. How do you 'see' the picture in a long line - without computers? Now that's magic.

As we were taken around and walked about the place, we saw a lot of little gardens. A lot of them were hidden behind gates and walls and you'd only see glimpses of them as you went past. I've always loved that idea of a 'secret' garden that you could see just a little into. The gates themselves were also beautiful and made gorgeous frames for the small paradises within. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.





They use sandstone, limestone and volcanic rock for their sculptures. I'll put up more photos next week.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A world of plants

Entering Baladia's and Musa's balcony and you feel you are in a haven in a high rise. Surrounded by plants, the highway is but a distant hum easily forgotten and ignored.
The balcony, however, definitely can't be ignored as a combination of comfort and green provides a place to be still. "Being connected to nature is a type of meditation for me,' says Baladia.



Both owners have been gardening since they were children either as a home garden or in farming. When they were decorating their apartment, being able to step out from the bricks and mortar and connect to their natural surroundings was an integral part of their home design. It is a short step from the living areas into a green space. So much so that they took one wall out of the downstairs bathroom and put in a wall of green instead!


Plants frame the spectacular view on the lower balcony, and create a living wall for privacy on the upper. The lower balcony is more enclosed and sheltered than the upper which is open directly to the elements. This has created two different habitats and allows them to have a variety of plants.
Shade loving plants inhabit the lower balcony and help keep the area cool. Pond reeds, tiny ferns and moss thrive to add character to the pots and surrounding space. In two corners stand Joshua trees that have grown in fascinating lines as they reach from under the ceiling to the light.

Upstairs are more sun hungry plants including a mango and frangapani. The purple heart loves to sit in the full sun and has repaid them with dainty pink flowers. Baladia told me, "Having a balcony garden is like having a child. You cannot forget them; they need care, but they are very grateful and the more you look after them the more beautiful they become." 

As their garden is very personal to them it comes as no surprise that they both follow in the long gardening tradition of sharing plants with other keen gardeners (including me). Plants from friends around the world have found homes there including an ornamental banana and a young creeper that will proliferate in showers of red flowers (see below, left) when it matures.  The plant on the right is a succulent setting out roots - almost ready to be transplanted.




I have included a video for you that showcases more photos of their lovely balconies that their whole family enjoys - including Sasha the tortoise who has the run of the balcony downstairs!

video


Let me know what you think.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Worms - A sign of health!

In our clean modern homes in the concrete jungle, worms are the last wee beasties we expect on our balconies way up on high, but even here they are wonderful creatures that help the soil in our pots remain balanced and aerated, while adding to the nutritional value. I even found one today in my large snail shell pot! I had to take the plant out of its shell for some plant housekeeping and there it was lying against the wall very comfortable. As the shell had a small break that I wanted to fix, I had to take it out and put it on the soil. It soon disappeared into the cool dark and that was when I remembered that I hadn't taken a photo of it in the shell first. I wouldn't make a good paparazzi!
Anyway, it reminded me of the two little composts that the girls and I started four months ago. We'd made them in two plastic waste paper bins from Ikea and had put some compost from my friend's one in to help start it. The loam from hers was so rich and full of worms and good bugs. I made layers in one bin with soil and garden waste and some the loam and put a lid on it. 


In the other one, I only filled it half way anticipating putting more leaves etc in it over the months. We did fill it up, but it never had a lid. I think that was an important point for when I opened up the lidded one I found beautiful dark soil. However, the other one hadn't worked as successfully as it had got too dry. I'd only watered them both every couple of weeks. For the lidded one that was perfect as too much water can drown the helpful critters. For the open one, it wasn't enough and it was too dry. I've put some of the dark soil from the lidded one on top to introduce some new worms to the brew and I'll get a new lid tomorrow.



Composting is great fun and very easy to do. Over the last four months I've hardly given the buckets much attention and they did their thing quite happily. I want to transfer some plants and I can use the new soil to do it in. What's even better is that it doesn't smell at all. My living room area opens directly onto the balcony and the bins were just to the side out of sight, but not very far away and there is never a whiff. 
If you want to learn more about how to make compost try this link D.I.Y Wormery and Compost.  I liked Gareth Hogan's resource as it specifically mentions small spaces and we all need to think about that.
He mentions making money from composting. I'm not sure if that's possible here in KL, but I'd like to get my condo into composting. 
Do you compost? I'd love to hear about your experiences.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Waxing Moon

As I was coming home this evening, I noticed that there is a half moon tonight and that it's bigger than last night. The first thought that came to mind was the moon is waxing and it's the perfect time for planting seeds. So, if you are here in Malaysia, then now is a great time for sowing as the seeds will spring up faster.
I'm going to plant some tomorrow. Maybe some salad plants.

Happy sowing all!

Friday, July 22, 2011

soil in pots - cost vs quality

One the most difficult aspects of my balcony garden is balancing cost and quality. Like any interest or passion, it's as expensive as we want to make it - and soil can be an expensive part of the set up.

Here in Malaysia, we can find some really cheap 2kg bags of soil in the supermarket for only RM2.50. It's fantastic, especially if you're filling up a very large tub. The only problem is that water retention is low, and although they have some nutrients, they run out of them quickly.

So how can we maximise our plant potential and keep costs low?

On my balcony, most of my plants have cheap soil, because it's what I can afford. However, I'm constantly having to water thirsty plants - the hibiscus and herbs such a basil are particularly thirsty. To completely replace all the soil is out of the question. So, I've replaced the top layer with a clay soil or a mulch. They both allow the water to come through, but slows down evaporation from the pot.

For new plants, I'll choose the soil according to the plant's needs.

Thirsty plants/plants that don't like dry roots:
- invest in good quality rich soil - it saves so much time walking in and out with the watering can.

Plants that don't like wet roots or don't need a lot of water (such as aloe vera)
- the cheap soil is fine. It's got good drainage and doesn't rot the roots. Just need to add fertiliser from time to time.

What soil do you like using for your pot plants?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Balconies in KL

It's been taking a long time to get this sorted out, but it's finally going to happen!
For a while I've been wanting to showcase beautiful and interesting balconies around KL so that we can share ideas. However, I've been having lots of technological problems which have held it back. Recently, they've been sorted out and I can get started. I plan to have the first ones out very soon.

Another highlight I'm bringing to my blog is videos on how to do different things about the place. The first one is being made right now.

So, watch this space. See you soon.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Japanese Paper Roses

When we went to Sungei Buloh to get plants a few weeks back, both my daughters wanted to get roses. I wasn't so keen as they are very difficult in a tropical country, but they wheedled me into it, so we came home with three traditional roses and two hybrid plants which the vendor called a Japanese Paper Rose.


The paper rose has a beautiful flower which looks just like a rose, but the plant is quite different. The traditional rose is quite bushy and has woody stems. They most often come up from one stem and branch off from that. The paper rose, on the other hand, looks more like an annual. All its stems come straight up out of the soil and don't branch off. The stems aren't woody either. They are herbaceous and thornless. In that regard, I think they won't last longer than a year.


As you can see, the leaves come out straight from the main stem itself without any small one of its own. It looks more like a sweetpea leaf.

We've tried to find out information on the internet about them, but haven't succeeded yet. Frances did find out a lot of information about traditional roses of course, sadly none of it about growing them in a tropical country. All the same, there was a lot of practical information that could be applied to them wherever they are.

1. They like well-drained soil. They don't like sitting in water, but they want a lot of it passing through. Frances solved this by getting an IKEA metal kitchen shelf with holes in it and putting a container under it.

2. They like lots of sun, but no heat.

3. They also like circulating air, but no direct breeze on them.

4. They don't like sharing their pot or space.

5. They like rain on them or a spray from time to time.

6. Regular fertiliser

So fussy!

She has got them in her window which gets afternoon sun and she leaves her fan on low to circulate the air.

She says that they responded well at the beginning, but they seem to have paused in their growth. She says that the soil is very wet even with it being drained. I wonder if it needs to dry out a little before the next watering because of the local humidity. I looked up on http://scvrs.homestead.com/WaterAndRoses.html and it mentions that they like a lot of water, but less in high humidity. So, it might pay to give a little less. We'll see. It also mentions that it's good to add a mulch to the top, such as bark. I might have to look into that. The mulch inhibits evaporation, helps keep the plant roots cool and provides nutrients.


This shows how the two types of roses look quite different. The new hybrid is on the right. You can see the metal shelf that Frances uses too.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Disaster!

I went out onto my balcony this morning to find almost all my tomato seedlings had gone!! Completely disappeared with the container remaining. I couldn't believe it. I still can't. There are no dried up plants - the soil was wet. The soil is still in there. It isn't reachable from any other balcony (and if a person had taken them, the whole container would be gone). No. It wasn't the weather, moisture content or people - it was pigeons!!

Exploring my balcony about a month ago. The seedlings are safely under cover at that time

Yes, pigeons. Then to prove my case against them, they keep coming to my balcony while I'm having breakfast and working at my computer and pecking at other pots and plants. I'm devastated. Just after my failure with the up-side-down tomatos and me telling everyone - no worries, I have more seedlings. sigh. I'm left with one, which was half pulled out and lying on its side.

My daughter, Zara, and I sowed the seeds about a month ago. They had been growing very slowly in general as the weather has been very bad and there hasn't been much sun in the afternoons as needed. I'd taken the lid off the seed starter as they were getting too big for it and I was going to re-pot them today. I'd been checking them each evening for water content and they were doing ok. Then - pigeon attack!
On a brighter note, I do have some in normal pots still. Most of them are still small, like the other seedlings. So, I'll have to keep protecting them. But one has shot up and is already 20cm plus. It must be in the perfect tomato growing spot on my balcony. Thank goodness for that.


Here it is with the arrow pointing at it. The other plant in the pot is basil, which is a famous companion plant for tomatos - in growing and cooking :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Up-side down tomato update

Sadly, my up-side-down tomatos weren't successful. They all died just this week. I think there were a couple of reasons for this.

1. The original plants weren't big enough. They were quite small and curled up to reach the light. Then, when they started to get bigger, they snapped as their weight pulled them down.

2. I found it hard to control the water intake. I hadn't used a good quality soil that retained water, so as I poured water in the top, it seemed to pour out the bottom.

Now, I have to learn my lessons and try again in the future. I still have some tomato seedlings left. They're small right now, so I'll have to wait until they're bigger. I'll also have to get some better soil and perhaps put some of those silicon balls in that hold water. Tomatos are very thirsty plants and need a constant water supply. They don't like drying out at all.

So, next time!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spinach in a pot


I've been asked about growing spinach in a pot and like many vegetables, it's quite easy to do. Even though, I'd grown plenty of leafy vegetables in NZ before, I was a bit concerned about the differences in humidity and heat. However, it seems that spinach likes those conditions and just thrives.

I first got a packet of seeds at the local garden store and popped them into a pot as per the instructions on the packet. They like full sunlight, lots of water and regular fertilising. What I really like about them is that they self propagate really easily and one packet can go a loooooong way.


In fact, they can begin to act like weeds and self seed in all the pots around, occupied or not. This isn't a problem, however. You just pull them out when they're big enough to cook with, but not too big that they've rooted in too deep.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, my younger daughter and her friend got overly excited with growing plants a month or two back and used up the remainder of the seed packet in a long box. They all sprouted and then began to fight for light and resources. I pulled the bigger ones for eating and then the smaller ones came through. That's given us a few meals that way. The last ones are beginning to go to seed now, so hopefully, there'll be a new generation soon.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Revival and Recuperation

As I mentioned in one of my early blogs, many of my plants had had a hard time earlier this year when they were forced to stay inside the house against their will for several weeks while renovation work was done on our building. Some looked near the end and others got hit by disease causing leaf loss and deformity. However, with my chilli spray and an excellent organic fertiliser leaf spray they've bounced back with a vengence!

Firtly, my Golden Pseuderanthemum. When she went back out onto the balcony, she was barely one stick and a couple of leaves. But within a month, she'd put out leaves and even a little spray of flowers. Now she's beautiful and bushy. She's very happy in her corner. She likes the sun, but not too much and now she's florishing!




Another one that has suffered has been my purple heart. I love this plant with its deep purple leaves. Sadly, it suffered a lot from something - I honestly don't know what! Its leaves lost their colour, but it looked like the colour had been stripped from the leaves, not faded and its leaves and stalks were growing in deformed shapes. There didn't appear to be any insects, but I couldn't find anything online about purple heart diseases. All that was mentioned was that they were hardy plants! Then I read that they don't like soaking roots and to let them dry out a little before the next watering. So, what did I do? I let them dry out too much and any shoots I had died! Determined not to give up, I watered it again anyway and sprayed the soil with the new organic spray. Two weeks ago, I was rewarded with little purple shoots and now I've got some little purple plantlets reaching for the sky.



A third one that had a hard time was my bird's nest fern. It got burned by my chilli spray when I put too much garlic in it. Old leaves and new shoots were all affected. I didn't prune it back immediately, thinking that it would still need to photosynthesise for any new shoots. It took a bit longer to spring back than the others, but I finally got to prune all the affected leaves off last week and the new ones are looking so beautiful and fresh.




The final one for today was my spider lily. It'd been hit hard by the white bug which was proving ridiculously hard to get rid of. I'd even taken the bulbs out and washed them in conventional insecticide. Then I started using my chilli-garlic spray and it just loved it. The white bugs were just starting to multiply again when I made my first batch of insecticide and I sprayed all my plants weekly for over a month. My spider lily just lapped it up and wasn't even burned by the strong batch. Since then I haven't seen hide nor hair of any white bug and my spider lily is an abundnace of leaves. Then last week, I got the best gift of a spray of flowers. The scent was delightful and not a hint of chilli nor garlic. ;)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Flowering Aloe


The tall stem has beautiful bell flowers that last only a few days.

The young flower was photographed during the day providing better light.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Up-side-down tomatoes


Recently, I saw an idea at the hardware store for growing tomatoes up-side-down. That way you don't have to worry about staking them or making room for them. It was RM50+ for the special container, minus the soil and plants. I didn't have the money on me at the time, but I liked the idea. Then early this month I had some delicious tomatoes and sprouted the seeds. Suddenly I found myself with 18 tomato seedlings; not enough room and still without enough money as I was waiting to go to Sungei Buloh :). I looked around and decided to recycle. I took the little vertical planter I'd made (which I'd intended to use with plants from Sungei Buloh, but the tomatoes were more pressing), re-lined it with plastic and set it up. It was very easy. My only concern is that the holes might be too small eventually and that the soil isn't very water retentive. Next time, I'll definitely make sure the holes are bigger. I used some Spanish Moss to keep the soil from going through the holes.


Other possibilities are buckets, sieves, big plastic bottles and different types of plant containers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pineapple


This is my friend's pineapple plant. Isn't it beautiful? I hope that mine will grow one soon too.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shopping!

I'm not a great shopper as a rule unless I am in one of two kinds of shops - a book shop or a plant nursery and yesterday we found the latter.

I'd been wanting to go for a while as I've been wanting plants for projects that I want to do. But I haven't been sure where to go and my car has broken down. Yesterday, however, I got to borrow my friend's car, I was given vague directions to Sungei Buloh and off we went.

Two hours later, we finally arrived after discarding the directions and going the way I thought it was. And it was brilliant. A whole row of them. I was like a cat in the catnip patch! And the prices were all very reasonable. We spent just over RM100 all up and got a very full boot-load.

Here's some highlights:


1. Pithecelobium dulce, Variegated Madras Thorn

2. Heliconia flower

3. Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum)
Flamingo Flower

4. Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Crispa’ (A. lobbianus)

All of them

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Monday Morning and Tropical Storms

Today is the second day of my weekend. My younger daughter, Zara, has gone to school and I have the day to myself. It's usually filled with the chores that need doing and can't be done in the rest of the week. It's also the day I work on my balcony garden. Zara and I often do a bit on the Sunday as well, but more often than not, I like to sit and enjoy it.

So far, I've sprayed my plants with an organic fertiliser and checked their water levels. I've also taken some photos of distant rain. The sun rising turned the buildings pink while the background is black with the rain coming in. Although it isn't a storm, we can get some spectacular storms here with the clouds engulfing the city. I got some fantastic photos a couple of years ago when I was facing the twin towers. The photos are quite historic now as a 30 story building has since been built in front and we can't get them from there again.

This morning


March 2009

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I haven't been doing much with my garden in the last few days since Frances arrived. We've been making a wall for her room and I've been trying to finish off the spring cleaning that I started last week. My aim is to have no junk spots in the house.

But my garden has been progressing all by itself. I love that about gardens. My seeds are starting to sprout and one of my Aloe Vera is putting out a flower. It's a stalk at the moment. So I'll put up photos of it when it's in full bloom.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Preparation


This last week has been a week of preparation. My eldest daughter is coming back to live with me in Malaysia after finishing high school back in New Zealand. We've only spent about six weeks together over the NZ summer break each year and I've missed her.
So, I have been getting ready for her arrival and having a huge spring clean. This has been on many levels. She and I are just heading off into new stages in our lives. She's starting hers and I'm wanting to start new projects and start a new business. Therefore, it's really out with the old and in with the new. The clearing of latent energy has been really important and I really want to make our home beautiful. The girls and I have moved many times and we've never had the chance to settle and beautify.
This has included really making our balcony a place to rest and relax between jobs and projects. My younger daughter and I have sowed some seeds in a planter in order to plant out in all the pots and to showcase in a future post. Speaking of which, I'm having a go at encouraging a pineapple to flower. My friend's son planted a pineapple top and when they returned to the UK, we inherited it. We've had it for about four years now. I didn't think that it would ever flower; it being cut off from a pineapple. However, another friend has got her one flowering, so I'm having a go. If it works, I'll definitely let you know.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cheap ideas for beautifying your balcony

ideas post #2

The best ideas of all are free ideas. So, let's...

Recycle!

The catch word of the 21st century, but there is truly so much free stuff about that you can use on your balcony. Being an ex-pat I often have friends leaving the country and moving on. Usually, when they ask, 'Nic, would you like...?' I've said yes before they've even finished the sentence. That way I've received lamps, large cushions, furniture and lots of bits and bobs. I've become more discerning since I got my own home and don't want it too cluttered, but I'll still have a look before saying no. From this I've gotten many things for my plants to stand on or to decorate the place; old tables, a metal frame that once held a TV, bricks (a great gardener's friend), my giraffe ornament and an old Japanese temple bell!

Other ways to recycle:

Freecycler - freecycle_kl@yahoogroups.com
It's an international group with local chapters all around the world, including KL. The idea is "one person's rubbish is another person's gold."
So, if you have something you don't want, put it up on freecycler and more often than not, someone will take it. You can also ask for things and someone may have one they don't want. I got an old sewing machine that way. I took it in for cleaning and it's great. I haven't tried freecycler for things for my balcony yet, but I'm sure there must be people who want to get rid of old pots and such like. Hmmm. Maybe I should ask about BIG ones!

Turn pillows into large cushions
We're supposed to get new pillows to sleep on every year or so. So, turn the old ones into large oversize cushions. Since you're going to use them on your balcony and the floor, it's not a problem using the old filler. Also, since it is old filler, you won't be so concerned if they get spilled on. Great if you have children and pets. Use old curtains to make the covers from.




What recycling ideas have you used for your balcony?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gloxinia rebounds - again

My gloxinia has put forth new leaves yet again. The last few times has been very difficult as it'd be attacked almost instantly by the white pest and die back again before any flowers could bud. It also took a long time to regenerate this time and I thought it really had died this time. I gave up and put it out on my other deck where it got enough water during the rainy season and suddenly put forth new leaves again! I instantly hit it with lots of chilli pesticide when I was also doing the others and I've given it an organic plant food spray. So fingers crossed...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cheap ways under 20RM to decorate your balcony

In the next few posts I'll be writing about different cost-effective ways to beautify your balcony. Today, all the ways cost less than twenty ringgits.

1. Stools and stones


1kg bags of stones can be bought for as little as RM2.50 and used in many ways. Above you can see how my daughter and I decorated the top of the plant. If you don't want to add in little plants, the stones can look great and protect the plant from losing too much water too soon as well. My daughter also likes to collect shells and stones from any rivers and beaches we go to which have the added advantage of being free and they can look great in the garden too.

I got the stools from Ace Hardware for RM14.99. Very cost effective. They advertised themselves as great for children or to hold plants. My idea was as little tables next to our cushions for afternoon tea.

2. Bamboo arches


I got these arches for just over RM11. Three in one pack. I got them for my syngonium which loves to trail up the wall and everywhere. The problem with that is it pulls the paint off. So I thought the bamboo will give it something to do. The other two I want to use for my tomatoes when I sprout them. There were other types too. Straight bamboo and willow branches. All about RM3 - RM10.

3. Tall Planter


I saw this idea in a book on small garden ideas that I got yesterday. It had little grape hyacinths in it. It's a great idea for a balcony where vertical gardening can really provide abundance where horizontal surfaces can't. I haven't got plants for it yet, but I wanted to see if I could do it for less than RM20 and I did.

Wire netting RM3-5 per meter. You need less than half a meter.
dirt - RM2.90 a bag. You need two.
Pot - RM5
lining - paper - priced accordingly or free if you use newspaper.

It was very easy to put together. Prices can go up depending on the pot you use and the lining. The book had used sphagnum moss to line the netting. I couldn't find any and I think it it's a bit expensive so I used a thin coconut matting which is too thin. I had bought a thicker coconut matting which had been too thick. Newspaper could be a good option. As long as it's something you can poke holes into.

What ideas have you used for less than RM20?

In the next post; ideas for less than RM50

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Creating Humidity

After reading up about Goldie and finding out that she needs humidity I thought I'd try it for her and my orchids. My Orchids, as I've mentioned before, seem to be in stasis at the moment and I want to encourage them to grow. So, using things that I had around the home, I got started.
I used:
Big pebbles
small fish bowl pebbles
a plastic tray
Abate insecticide for water features

I had these things already, but they're easy to get at Ace Hardware or other garden/pet centres. I got the tray from Ikea. It was very cheap.

I put the different sized pebbles in the tray. I'm buzzed that I got a tray that matches the paint on my balcony. My daughter enjoyed arranging it all. She also took the first three photos.


Sprinkled the Abate over them. It says to re-do it every two - three months


Added water


Voila!


This is the base of Goldie's pot.You can just see the pebbles underneath. I added a sachet of Abate to this too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I've found it!!

I'm very excited because I've finally found out the name of a plant that I've had for about five years, pictured below.



It's simply known as Pseuderanthemum reticulatum or by its simpler common names of Yellow-Vein Eranthemum and Golden Pseuderanthemum! Phew, I don't think those names will be flowing from my lips in a hurry. But it's great because now I can research it properly and improve my care of it.

Before I carry on though, all credit for finding the name goes to a lovely lady called Jacq who's listed in my blog list. She found it in a book that she just got called Tropical Horticulture & Gardening. We'd both tried googling it, but couldn't find the picture anywhere. Now I can find it everywhere! So thank you Jacq.

So far, what I've learned is:

1. It likes sunny to partial shade. Does best in bright indirect sunlight coming from the South/East/West. I have sun from the west, so great.

2. Likes a bit of humidity

3. Even watering and fertilizing every fortnight.

Nothing new really as my 'Golden Pseuderanthemum' (maybe I should nickname her Goldie) really lets me know when she wasn't happy. She curls up her leaves and drops them in the space of days if she was throwing a tantrum. But I like one idea about making it more humid and that is adding pebbles in her water tray and keep it filled with water to increase humidity. I'll have to put mosquito pesticide in it too though. I might try it with my orchids as well, as they aren't too happy right now. They aren't dying, but they aren't growing either.

I'm thrilled to find out her name. Goldie's a lovely plant and her flowers are very pretty. I got her when I went to Bukit Tinggi Botanical Garden and Japanese tea garden. Lovely place. I had another one, but it sadly died in January when all my plants had to stay inside. Most of them weren't happy, but the goldies acted like pre-schoolers kicking and screaming on the floor. All the leaves dropped pretty rapidly and then the stems started going brown. Thankfully, one didn't give up entirely and I managed to get her out in time. Pruned her back to the green and away she went.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Not so well

Hi, I've been a bit sick over the past four days and nothing that I've wanted to do on my blog has come to fruition. But I have been making tea from my Karpuravalli plant. My daughter has been enjoying plucking the leaves and turning it into a medicine for me. I feel very looked after.

Hope to have much more soon.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Learning moment with chilli and garlic

As you probably know, I've been spraying my plants with the chilli and garlic pesticide and it's been working fabulously. In the last three weeks I've only seen one large white pest, which I dealt with swiftly, otherwise nothing. All was going well until I saw brown patches on my bird's nest fern. The chilli or garlic had burnt it! I felt devastated. As I mentioned in my last blog, my fern was just recuperating from being moved about, new swirls were coming through and here I go and burn it.
I checked all my other plants and they're fine. They actually seem to be thriving on it. So it's just the fern. I won't be spraying it again.

As it is, I can be thankful for two things:

1. The bird's nest fern is quite pest resistant anyway with broad leaves that can easily be wiped (which she likes).

2. All the other plants, which are far more prone to pests, love it.

Poor thing
You can even see the trails from the liquid.


The hibiscus on the other hand is reaching for the sky. No blemishes whatsoever.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tradescantia pallida 'Purple Heart'

One of my favourite plants with its dark purple leaves, light pink flowers and trailing vines, Purple Heart has been a wonderful variation in colour on my balcony. Much to my distress though, in the last six months it's been struggling with some kind of infestation of either a type of fungi or a parasite. If it's the latter, I can't see it, but the colour of the leaves has been stripped to a pale green and the leaves are curling and growing crooked. It's always loved direct sunlight and doesn't like to be too wet. I've managed to confirm that in my research, which also tells me that it's relatively disease and problem free! And for the last six years it has been. Its long vines flowing down the sides of the pot earned it the nickname, Rapunzel.
Normally, with an infestation I just cut the plant right back and it usually works. This time it just comes back the same. Two weeks ago, when I started spraying my plants with my homemade chilly spray, I sprayed Rapunzel too and it seems to be working!! So here's keeping our fingers crossed.

Rapunzel at her worst


Getting better - so here's hoping.


Wee flowers on a shrub I got from the Genting Highlands Botanical gardens shop. It came with a weird parasite that took a year to eradicate. But she's all free of it now. I mainly took them off by hand and pruned back any infestations. Thankfully, it was never interested in any of the other plants which made it easier to deal with.


My Bird's Nest fern's new shoots.


She is very fussy and reacts strongly if moved to a spot she doesn't like. She hated being stuck in the house while the building was being painted a few months back. It wasn't until she was back in her favourite spot did she put out more shoots to replace the leaves I'd pruned way back in November last year.

Here's a peek at my friend's balcony which I hope to feature soon.


We had wanted to get some evening pictures in the warm light of sinking sun, but it decided to rain instead. So hopefully next time.