Friday, December 17, 2010

WA Native Flora

Being an avid gardener, I am always on the lookout for flowers and plants whenever I travel. Here are some of the commonly seen ones in Western Australia during summer.

Found growing in the native bushland.


Delicate flowers growing by Scarborough Beach.

Found growing in the native bushland.

Found growing in the native bushland.

Found growing in the native bushland.

Native flowers for sale at the general store.

Commonly grown in most home gardens.

The most exciting garden I saw was the organic kitchen at Providore.

Chives and herbs.

Organic tomatoes.


Not sure what this is but it must be edible.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blueberry plant

I just returned from Western Australia. When I saw this blueberry plant for sale at a market in Margaret River, I wished I could bring it home.

See the blueberries? How I wish we could grow them here in the tropics!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Aristolochia tagala

Years ago, when my son was setting up a butterfly garden, we went around Singapore looking for food plants to grow in our farm. In our attempt to attract birdwing butterflies, we grew aristilochia tagala, a food plant of the rare birdwing butterfly. We searched high and low for the plant and finally found them growing at Alexandra Hospital. We picked some seeds and sowed them at home.

Soon, we had lots of aristolochia tagala vines, commonly known as Indian birthwort, growing at the farm. Unfortunately, we failed to attract any birdwing butterflies.

Recently I was surprised to see this rare plant growing in my patio garden. Then I figured there must be seeds pods lying latent in the pot of water jasmine that I brought back from the farm. Under the right conditions, the seeds germinated and grew into vines.

The seed pod is very interesting. When it reaches maturity, the round pod bursts into a parachute-like object, scattering the seeds around.

This is a medicinal plant. According to this website, the leaves can used to treat fever. In Indonesia, the leaves are made into a poultice and applied to the swollen abdomen or limbs. In the Philippines, the plant is used to treat snake bites and malaria. In India, the roots are considered a tonic, carminative and emmenagogue. A number of other species are used by the Chinese for dysentery, high blood pressure, beri-beri and swollen feet.

With the vine thriving in my patio, I wonder if I could see the magnificent birdwing butterfly in my garden someday?

Distressed rosemary

The rosemary bush in my patio, once my pride and joy, has been showing signs of distress lately. Little by little, the branches began to dry up. Now all I have is a dried up bush.

I have trimmed it down completely hoping that new sprigs of leaves will start growing again. Luckily I have propogated two small pots from this plant, just in case I can't revive this old bush.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It's funny how both adeniums ended up in my garden. One was given by a friend for safekeeping while they move to their new house. The other one, which is really tiny, was thrown out by my son after he found it unsuitable for his terranium. It's a highly toxic plant anyway.

The adenium, aka desert rose, sat in my garden for a long time, growing so slowly. Then suddenly, it produced a lovely red flower. Adeniums are known to be heavy flowering plants, so I hope there will be more flowers to come.

My other 'sunflower' plant also started flowering. The colour's a little lighter than the other one.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I've always wanted to grow sunflowers in my patio. I sowed some seeds expecting to see large big and tall plants with sunny blooms.

I've grown them before in my parent's garden. They were about 7 feet tall and laden with huge flowers.

When the ones in my patio started producing buds when they were barely 1 foot tall, I was rather surprised.

Now that the petals have appeared, I am shocked. These aren't sunflowers! They are small and certainly look nothing like the photo on the packaging!

These below are the real deal. They were taken in France but I have grown similar ones here before.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Female corn flower

JC wanted to see what the female corn flower is like. I've got some growing on my plants now. The silk and ear make up the female flower.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Look out for veggies

I sowed some vegetable seeds into three very large pots over the weekend. They have all germinated. I'm expecting a good harvest in December.

Kang kong seedlings.

Chye sim seedlings.

Spinach seedlings.

What a surprise to find a shiny ball hanging on my Christmas tree. Someone from above must have tossed it down.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Best performer

If I were to give an award to my plants, the chive will win the best performer award hands down!

Ever since I've had one pot in my garden, I could just amble into the patio and cut the leaves off for immediate cooking.

This is what the plant looks like now. Completely bald.

In no time, new leaves will grow and I'll get to eat chives again.

Every cook should grow some in the garden.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New growths

Recently I sowed some sunflower seeds but only two managed to germinate and grow. According to the description on the packet, it is able to grow to 2-3 metres tall. I've had really tall sunflowers before back at the farm which produced huge blooms.

These are less than a foot tall and I've already spotted a bud forming (below). I guess we can never totally trust what's written on the pack.

The cycad plant was completely bald at one point and suddenly, new shoots have sprouted rapidly.

Only trouble is, the cycad blue butterfly is back. It lays eggs on the cycad plant and soon caterpillars will devour the fresh shoots. They are such a nightmare and can destroy a plant within days!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Joyful sightings

I'm happy to see the gloxinia flowering again. While it is not as gorgeous as before, I think it's doing well in this hot and humid weather.

The yam plant has grown so much recently, I am pretty certain the tuber under the soil is growing quickly too. This is something worth waiting for.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Have you ever wondered how vegetables produce seeds? Let me show you.

I've allowed my mustard green vegetables to bolt and produce flowers. After several weeks, the flowers turn into seed pods. Each pod contains many tiny black seeds.

As you can see, you can get loads of seeds from a single plant.

My maize has also started producing male flowers called tassel. Male flowers are always found at the top of the plant while female flowers (the silky part you find at the top part of a corn cob) will form about halfway down the plant. The corn we eat are from the female flowers.

Now I have to wait for the female flowers to form before pollination can take place. Then I may get to eat sweet corn.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Freshest corn ever!

From the garden, to the pot, into my tummy...

I've just tasted the freshest corn ever! These are grown by my father using the Sweet Jean Corn seeds supplied by Known You Seeds Co. We've been enjoying a good harvest from the small patch, just enough for my parents and me!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mustard green's yellow flowers

One of the nicest things about growing vegetables is you never quite know what you're going to expect. We see all kinds of vegetables in the supermarket, yet most of us have no idea what the flowers or seeds look like.

I allowed my mustard green vegetable to grow and grow. Sometimes I can't bear to eat my own home grown vegetables. Today, I was delighted to see a little bouquet of yellow flowers.

Who would have known that a bitter tasting vegetable is capable of producing such pretty blooms?

Now if I leave the flowers alone, I might get mustard seeds. Yes, the kind that you use in Indian curries. Or I could just sow them and start another cycle.

Nature always amazes me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The idea that grew and grew

As you would know by now, I have been working with a bunch of young kids to transform their school yard into a little green haven. With my limited resources, I could only bring seeds, stem cuttings and seedlings for them to grow every week.

They began to develop the joy of gardening and respect for nature. Some grew up deprived of parental love and never knew what it is like to care for others. In some ways, gardening helps bring out the nurturing side in them.

Working with these kids has been a rewarding experience. It has inspired me to work harder to make the garden a more productive one. The kids get so excited when they see results. They're eagerly anticipating a good harvest of sweetcorn. These aspiring entrepreneurs have sold mangoes and cookies in the school canteen to raise funds.

Their energy is so infectious, it has inspired me to work towards my own dreams. I began toying with the idea of combining my love for gardening and animals to create something inspiring yet practical.

Once the idea was planted in my head, it just grew and grew. Finally, the time has come to roll out the first product - The "Grow a Little Love Everyday" 2011 poster calendar.

Promotional flier.

Featuring animals, flowers, leaves (28 types, each painstakingly illustrated by a very talented artist) and heart-shaped trees, the calendar showcases nature at its whimsical best. I hope the graphics will lift one’s spirit and feed the soul, inspiring one to give a little love every day.

The A2 size full colour poster is printed on the elegant 170gsm Antalis Sensation Tradition, bright white paper stock. The dates are laid out at the bottom so that it can easily be cut off if you want to keep the print hanging after the year is over.

I'm shamelessly promoting here hoping my readers will help spread the word around. As you know, the window for selling 2011 calendar is rather short, so any help is greatly appreciated.

It makes a great Christmas gift! 'Love grows by giving' is my new mantra.

The retail price is S$10 (USD7.50) per piece. Shipping cost within Singapore is S$3 for one piece (packed in a cardboard tube) or S$3.50 if you order two pieces. I am happy to ship all over the world but the postal rate varies according to the destination. Please feel free to drop me an email or comment if you have any queries.

My aspiration is to make this new venture a success. Please keep a lookout for more new products to come. With more money in my pocket, I will be able to grow more flowers in the school garden. :-)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

So beautiful

This is indeed the perfect birthday gift. It gets better and better everyday.