Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Kitchen Garden

One of the best thing about having a large garden is that one can have a kitchen garden.

Most herbs and spices are not needed on a daily basis, neither does one really want to spend money on a whole bundle of the herbs as sold in the market just to use a few leaves, etc. So there is a great sense of satisfaction that one can just go to the garden to get the ingredients required for some specific dishes.

Freshly picked from the garden - how many of the herbs in the tray can you recognised?

There are basil, coriander, mint, kaffir lime, spring onion, lemon grass, pandan, curry leaves, mugworth (ai ye) and sand ginger (cekur). We also have ginger and tumeric in the garden.

Of course, considering that we have some twelve bushes of of it - no Asian kitchen garden can be considered as being complete without the various types of chilli pepper. Today's harvest can be seen in the tray ... the longest chilli pepper being some 17 cm (7") long.

There is the normal chilli, a larger variety of the chilli padi and the pyramid chilli. We also have the really hot bell chilli and other varieties of the chilli padi. The bell chilli seems to be a bit more difficult to grow but we have two small plants doing nicely now though still some way from producing the fruits. The plants are producing a lot of chillis and we cannot consume the bulk of the harvest. So every few days we just dispatch a whole bunch to the employees in our wholesale bakery supply centre. They love them!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Splash of Colours - the Balsam Rose

I can never resist this flower which is also one of my mum's favourite flowering plants. The plants are short-lived but showy and amazingly colourful. So once I have a garden big enough to do it - I planted a whole row of various colours - six, to be exact.

This is the Balsam Rose or Impatiens balsamina. It is also known as Touch-Me-Not and amongst the Chinese, Finger Nail Flowers, so named as the flowers were used by Chinese women in the past to colour their nails.

Children love the plants for their seed pods. Once ripened, even a gentle squeeze will cause the pods to explode with surprising force. The plants self-seed very heavily and on germination have to be heavily thinned out to prevent the next generations of plants becoming too spindly. In traditional Chinese medicine, this plant is use to treat various ailments and in folk medicine to reduce body ordours.

The plants certainly provide a very nice splash of colours of the garden!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Our cat is now a new mother ....

This morning, our cat, Monkey, becomes a mother of three beautiful kittens ....

The first one looks like the mother, the second is white with a black eye patch and the third is black with four white paws. Monkey stayed in the tray with the kittens the whole day and did not venture down to eat until earlier this evening.

Will get pictures of the kittens up as soon as possible :-)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Butterfly Ginger

Another of the ornamental ginger in our fragrant garden is possibly one of the most fragrant - the butterfly ginger. There are a few varieties of this butterfly ginger but we only have the white butterfly ginger (Hedychium coronarium var. coronarium).

When the offset (bought from the Kuching Satok Weekend Market) was first planted, it soon died off and we thought - oh well, that's it!. Still we left the plot empty hoping that some part of the offset may still be viable! Indeed, it was - the first new shoot came out about a month or so later. Now it is a spread of over a dozen stems, some reaching to about 75 cm tall.

Each stem of the plants, as it matures, produces at the end of the stem an inflorescence that looks like a green spindle with overlapping bracts.

From each of the overlapping bract, starting from the bottom of the spindle, a white tube-like flower bud will appear.

As the flowers slowly develop ....

The flowers will then each open to release their delightful perfume. The white flowers look like butterflies.

Sadly, each flower only lasts for a day. However, the same stem will produce many flowers opening over several days.

As one walks near the plant in the evening, the light but heavenly fragrance hits you and you just have to stop and enjoy the scented night air. It is certainly one of the plants I like best in the garden and a great plant for any garden. Get it and enjoy!

Rainforest World Music Festival 2010

The Rainforest World Music Festival 2010 is on and we have some visitors from West Malaysia here visiting us as well as attend the festival. The background to this festival is here. This year, the festival organisers are expecting some 10,000 visitors to the festival.

According to weather reports, it seems that La Nina is upon us and we have had really hot days and really heavy downpours in the evening and at night.

A lot of the festival goers are going to get very wet! Still, enjoy!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Red Torch Ginger

I have always wanted to plant gingers but the lack of space when in Singapore or even in PJ meant that I was not able to accommodate these huge plants. In Kuching, I can!

I have planted a few plants of the ginger family, including the edible ginger (Zingiber officinale), turmeric (Curcuma longa) and a number of ornamental gingers. Due to the potential size of the red torch ginger(Etlingera elatior), it is at back of the garden. This plant is now some 3 meters tall and occupies the southeast corner of the garden in the shade of the giant bamboos that belong to the neighbours.

About one year after first planting the offset (again, from Tiong Hoo's garden in Miri), it started to bloom and since then has been fairly prolific in producing these spectacular visual delights.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Pink Lady Awakes

There is a pink flamingo in my garden ... of course, not the avian variety!! It is a member of the helliconia family, Heliconia chartacea, to be exact and also known locally as the Pink Lady. We do have many types of helliconias in the garden but this is certainly one of the prettiest heliconias and amongst my favourite flowers in all its different stages of growth for Sogetsu Ikebana.

An offset of the Pink Lady was taken from the garden of TK's 3rd brother, Hoo, in Miri about 18 months ago and it was planted at the end of the garden in the SW corner. It took some 16 months before it eventually settled down and finally woke up with two stalks of the classic pink lady flowers.

It is a beautiful plant but for some reasons, the leaves always look a disgrace! :-)