Thursday, December 29, 2011

Colors of Christmas in the Garden

As 2011 is about to end I am looking forward to another 2012 gardening year. Since I began to appreciate gardening I’ve learned that it’s not enough to enjoy and cultivate the plants we grow in our homes. For me, it’s about discovering techniques that apply to a certain situation, understanding ways of nature, planting combinations and it’s about bringing out the person’s creativity as well.

Decorating our homes sometimes reflects our own tastes and personality. When I was still a little girl, green and red used to be the main colors of Christmas. Gold, silver, white and blue were added only to keep the color combinations alive. Today, pink, orange, purple and other colors are widely used and accepted as the manner of decorating our homes continues to evolve in time.
Mayana (Coleus)

I like the combination of deep red to purple and green foliage of mayana (Coleus). I once thought I had uprooted all of them because they tend to grow fast and too tall for my little garden so as result, it looked a bit messy and disorganized. I was surprised to find out one morning tiny sprouts of mayana growing in an orderly manner beside the champagne tree that looked okay for me. I guess they liked the shade the champagne tree is giving them.
Christmas Ti Plant

I used to place these Ti plants in shaded areas but their leaves became dull. I got the result I wanted when I moved them where they could get at least 4-6 hours of sun a day. Ti plants are also known as good luck plant. I was told it would bloom but with that colorful, bright foliage, I think it is better without flowers.

I had two sun loving picara plants but I was only left with one. I love the drama of variegated light green and white combination on top of the leaves with deep red underneath. It makes the plant attractive whenever the deep red underneath the leaves is exposed when flipped.

This red-tipped bromeliad (Neoregelia Fireball) is low maintenance, easy to propagate, requires little care and one of my first acquired bromeliads. In spite of the shiny and glossy, bright red leaves, they leave tiny scratches in my arms from the spiny edges of thick leaves whenever I get to touch them.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

High 5 Juice!

Cooking and baking, one of the things that keep most of us busy on a holiday like this.  In the Philippines, Christmas is the longest celebrated occasion since as early as September, Christmas lights can be observed in some homes. Christmas parties are popular in the work places, in schools or in any civic or social organizations and on the eve, it is a tradition to almost everybody to spend it with their loved ones. It is also this time of the year when I feel guilty of indulging myself to irresistible foods whenever I get to be invited to attend such. But no, I won’t let those calories I burned for the whole year through exercise put into waste, I can still enjoy those pastries, carbs,  rich, creamy salads without the guilt. After all, we only get to celebrate Christmas once a year. At least thrice a week, I make it a point to drink juiced vegetables and fruits because I believe in the benefits they bring in keeping me healthy. These 5 raw greens have important components that keep us away from illnesses caused by unconscious exposure to toxins and help in boosting our immune system as well. I call it High 5 Juice because they contain high levels of anti-oxidants in protecting our body from carcinogens and harmful ingredients we get either from inhalation of chemicals or from solutions we apply in our skin. I don’t grow them in my garden for now but hopefully I will in time.

Celery is known not only to lower blood pressure, it also helps in fighting forms of cancer and a good blood cleanser. Cucumber especially the skin and green bell pepper are good source of vitamin A and C. Bitter gourd which is abundant in Asia plays an important role in controlling diabetes. The charantin is believed to lower glucose level in blood that causes diabetes. Ampalaya which is commonly called is a favorite ingredient in an Ilocano dish.  Green apples used to cost a bit higher than any other home-grown fruits so I was relieved to know it is already produced locally. Apples which are high in pectin are also known to possess high levels of anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Since these are juiced raw, it is very imperative to wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove pesticides and bacteria unless you grow them in your own backyard. I may not have the best juice extractor but I guess this is better than using the blender. Honestly, the mixture is not as palatable as any other fruit or vegetable juice because of the bitter gourd added on it but I learned to drink it anyway. The cucumber and green apple help in reducing the bitterness. The temporary bitter taste is nothing compared to the health benefits one can get in the long run. It’s also important to know that it's not contraindicated with the regular medications I am into.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Temperate Torenia

Growing ferns, bromeliads became apparent to me when I realized how essential it is to know how much sunlight your garden should get. I thought I could never have a garden in bloom because of the limited sunlight but as I searched, explored the possibilities of having flowers in the garden, I discovered that there are some flowering plants that thrive well in shaded areas. 

I’ve learned that torenia, which is commonly called wishbone flower require part sun to shade. At first glance, I thought of them as weeds, growing wild and quite unsettled. Appealing, I guess is not the right term for them but in gardening, one can always work with nature, enhancing the uniqueness of every growth one can find in the soil.

Looking closely, the dark blue to violet velvety petals with yellow and white at the center of torenia amuses me. They also come in fuchsia and pink. They make good ground covers to hold the soil or placed hanging in balcony. I just can't resist taking a closer shot at these temperate diminutive blooms!

These Hands