Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Banksia integrifolia

Botanical Name:  Banksia integrifolia
Common Name:  Coastal Banksia
Family:  Proteaceae
Country of Origin:  Possibly Eastern Australia
Named after Sir Joseph Banks

This picture was taken at the UC Davis Arboretum.   The flowers were very striking and hard to miss. I noticed at least two specimens of Banksia during our recent visit there but I am not sure what varieties they are.  

Monday, April 24, 2017

Wildlife Refuge

Hummingbirds eat nectar and small insects.  

"If you feed them they'll come..."  That is true to most of nature.  Living things can sense the direction of the source of good things and tend to gravitate towards it.  Life was designed that way for survival.  In the case of plants, their roots grow toward moist areas and the leaves towards the light.  If plants that seem so immobile can get to the food how much more to those that are equipped with wings and legs?  

Yes, I'm referring to the birds and other small mammals that now seem to reside in our garden because we have been regularly giving them food.  In return they give us entertainment and they help with pest control by eating aphids, larvae, slugs and snails that have found their way to my garden.    

There are so many wild doves in the area but we got our resident ones.

All of these birds can be attracted to a garden depending on the plants growing around.  However, in the absence of plants they can be lured by providing them feeds and water.  During summer time, water is as important as the feed in attracting them to the garden.  

He's cute but he scares the birds from the feeders.

The other thing that make a garden bird-friendly is the presence of bushes that provide shelter and cover from predator.  In our garden, the boxwood hedges provide just that to the finches when the hawk tries to get to them.

Broken saucers can still serve as a feeder.

Old breads are not wasted.  

When the quails are around, they bring down the snail population.

If you want to make your garden more interesting this season, try attracting more birds into it. 

Even doves enjoy the hammock in the garden

Birds are good boarders, they pay their fees in terms of entertainment and pest control.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dehiscent Fruits

Fig. 1   Arbus precatorius seedpods in watercolor.
 It is a plant that grows as a weed in the coastal areas of my hometown in the Philippines.
And for the sake of nostalgia, I decided to draw it based on a picture I saw on the internet.

One the subjects I have enjoyed painting recently have been some dehiscent fruits.  These are the fruits that split-open at maturity to reveal or release the seeds in them.  Dehiscence is nature's seed dispersal mechanism.

Sometimes as gardeners we seem to be focused on the flowers especially on ornamental plants such as the Fortnight Lily (Dietes iridioides).  However as a plant scientist, I seem to be more fascinated by the inherent ultimate purpose of the plant which is reproduction.  Flowers are mainly there to facilitate the seed production.  It is for this very reason that the petalss are not very lasting - they fade right after pollination.  The fruits which contain the seeds are the true star of the whole show.

Fig. 2  Dietes iridiodes seedpods in watercolor.
Commonly known as Fortnight Lily, it is a popular choice for the local landscapes because of its heat and drought tolerance. It has beautiful white flowers that bloom in waves from spring to fall.  After the petals fade away, prominent green seedpods take the place of the flowers.  However, during this time of year blackish-gray cracked seedpods hover over the evergreen leaves.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Colorful Flapjacks

Older leaves turning yellow while the flower stalk remaining bluish gray.

Kalanchoe luciae 'Flapjacks' are very interesting succulents because of their flat leaves with colors that seem to change with the seasons.  I noticed that during seasons when the plants undergo stress, such as heat, drought and cold, the leaves tend to carry a warmer yellowish color starting from the older leaves.  In the spring and fall seasons, the red color intensifies with a hint of blue near the growing points of the plant.

'Flapjacks' make succulent specimen for containers and the garden. 

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