Thursday, November 25, 2010

And what a stink there was ......

We have this succulent in the garden which is doing quite well in a pot, albeit not a tall-enough pot. It resembles a spineless, sprawling cacti.

The flower appeared as a long small bud at the end of one of the branches.

And it just got bigger and bigger or rather ballooned! 


Until it burst ....

.... and what a stink there was!


Indeed, this is the starfish flower (Stapelia gigantea) from South African and is one of the most notorious carrion flowers belonging to the Milkweed Family (Asclepiadaceae), a very diverse plant family characterized by milky-white sap. 

The starfish-shaped flower is a flesh-coloured, hairy blossom some 8 to 10 inches across (20-25 cm) and has a nauseating stench. Apparently, the fringes of soft white hairs on the flesh-coloured petals looks like mold growing on rotting matter through the compound eyes of carrion insects!

I did not have the proper camera to take closeup of the flies ... but they do swarmed in and around the flower.

It is easy to propagate - just cut off segments and plant them! Nice exotic plant for the garden but certainly not to have too many in bloom at the same time!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Chalice Vine

This is one nice plant that I like and which I planted as soon as my garden was ready. 

The plant is the Chalice vine or solandra longiflora and also variously known as Trumpet Plant or Flower. 

It did not do well in the open  and was eventually reduced to a single branch with one leaf ... and almost dead! Then while working in the garden, I stepped on it and virtually flattened it which was when I decided to move it into a small pot where it appeared to thrive. Several transplants later, it was some 1.56m tall and finally re-planted at the side of the house where we just built three sets of  wooden frames for climbers.

The various stages of the growing flower bud is interesting ....


It is great experience to see the flower buds growing day by day and the finally open just after sunset. The flowers are very lightly scented - not so noticeable when the plant is grown beside the other fragrant flowers in the garden.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Joy of ...

Apart from the gardening, it's great to have a test kitchen or two for pastries, cakes, bread and other baked items!

We have two test kitchens and they are also used for training  - the large one for training professional  bakers on new product lines and the smaller one to conduct classes for homemakers.

The test kitchens are where we experiment with all the latest product lines and to use these new product lines to make the latest baked creations - testing the flavour/texture and trying to gauge the acceptance to local taste buds.  

The latest samples from the test kitchens ....

Lovely stuff!!! 

When it comes to bread, a lot of Malaysians like the softer  variety of bread but we prefer hard bread like those found in Germany. So for me, the main part is to be able to bake top quality bread using top quality ingredients and eating great bread that are normally not available in Malaysia. From the test kitchen, made by a Master Baker from Germany ...

Eating them is a real pleasure!

The visiting Master Bakers from all over the world  not only make breads (seen above) but also produced trays and trays of fantastic stuff when conducting their training sessions ...

Any wonder we put on weight? :-)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Predator Comes Fighting ...

A large Praying Mantis flew from the garden into the house the other day ...

and began a great display of Praying Mantis Kung Fu!

Trivial post but, nevertheless, an entertaining display by the Praying Mantis. Had to force it out of the house :-)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Love in a Puff

This is  another of the plant with small nondescript flowers that I have in the garden and which I nurture for the beautiful triangular fruits that this plant produces. 


This is the Cardiospermum halicacabum and also known as Balloon vine or Love in a Puff or in Mandarin, 倒地鈴. Wilson ID this plant for me.

You can visualise the size of the flower from the small ant on the flower ...

As the fruits develop ....

It is a nice ornamental and decorative plant - with these  jade-green triangular-shaped puffs dangling all over the vines. I think this plant looks very attractive!

At maturity ... 

To see the arrangement of the seeds inside, just slice through the puff. You can see three segments with three hard black seeds.

Germinating from seeds takes a fairly long time - I just plant two or three seeds in small bags of compost, label them and then, other than watering them, just leave them alone until, one day, you see the new tiny shoots!

As the plants grows really wild - I have them in large pots in the garden. If you are ever along Jalan Angsana, Star Garden in Kuching, watch out for an lot of empty land where the entire fence/hedge is covered with this plant. Quite a sight!!