Thursday, April 26, 2012

Catful Day

Himalayan kitty
Pia and more of her Himalayans
House cat
Quick Post: After a week of being home I went out of hibernation. I tagged along with Devi Madrid to her shoots, first in Antopolo, then Alabang in Muntinlupa.  It was a long day travelling to both end of the city.  But it was a fullfiling day as I saw a lot of interesting items. But all our destinations had one thing in common, the homeowners are pet lovers.  Took snaps of a lot of cats and other animals.

Another thing I noticed is that a lot of narra trees are in flower. Just a few weeks ago, many narra trees were blooming so I really wonder how many times in a year a single tree can bloom.    
The blooming narra behind the banana trees

Friday, April 20, 2012

B'N'B' - Bold and Beautiful Banaba

The pink canopy
Flower detail
Banaba in bloom
It is not exactly my favorite tree.  But when I see a banaba tree in full bloom, the species is always moved on top of my list. I realized this again when I saw the lone banaba tree near Vargas Museum almost in full bloom regalia this morning. The tree advertises itself to the world telling us that it is still there.  I almost forgot that the stretch of street where the College of Architecture is was once lined with clumps of banaba. I am not sure if the old trees are still there. It is only the Vargas Museum tree which I could remember to flower yearly.   

Banaba is Lagerstroemia speciosa which is native to the Philippines and some neighboring Asian countries. When it is not in bloom, the tree is rather unremarkable. But come flowering season, the vibrant flower color transforms the dull crown into a stunning display of pink. Wild banaba in flower changes the color of the rainforest canopy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Counting my 'Fingers'

Small Schefflera from Zambales probably S. microphylla
Plant from Palaui seeds
From a garden in Ilocos
Schefflera is a genus popular in landscape. Species like Schefflera actinophylla and S. arboricola are well known world wide as ornamental plants even suitable for indoor use. Some Philippine natives like S. blancoi and S. odorata have long been established as garden plants in Metro Manila. Most ornamental Schefflera varieties have gone to be known as 5 fingers, 6 fingers, 7 fingers etc. depending on the number of individual leaflets there are in terminal whorls. Most local species are referred to as galamay amo. 'Galamay' is a vernacular term for appendage or extremity, still near the concept of fingers.

Simple-leafed species from Quezon
Species used in Ayala Triangle

Apart from the 2 mentioned native species, there are a few other natives which were also introduced into the garden trade.  Some of them became popular but mostly are grown exclusively by collectors who can differentiate them from the more common Schefflera odorata.  In looking around in garden shops and private collections for almost a decade, I have acquired a few of these and tested whether they would fare well in an urban garden like mine. After years of experimenting, about a handful have been proven to thrive in hot Metro Manila besides S. blancoi and  S. odorata.  Problem is they are hard to name and identify.

What they call Starshine might be S. albidobracteata
Schefflera plants generally are easy to propagate either from seeds and even from cuttings. They are easy to care for but quite slow growing.  But neglected specimens tend to get leggy and tall.  They should be trimmed and kept low.  Trimming regularly would make the plant bushy therefore more attractive.  Cut stems could be used as propagation material.

Common S. odorata
Like most members of the Aralia family, Schefflera species love moisture. Smaller species would grow well as understory plants, but would tolerate partial shade as long as the soil is kept to retain good amounts of water.   

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Last View of the SM Baguio Pine Trees

There is not much pine trees in this Baguio picture, houses fill the mountain
The infamous SM pine trees
I was in Baguio last weekend and passed by SM. I took pictures of the famous pine trees to be cut.  But I did not realize that it was actually their last day of existence before they were cut down for the mall extension.  I figured at least I have a posterity pic of the now infamous pine trees. They are now immortal not only in my photo but also because of the deed everyone is sad about.  

A day before they were cut down
But this fact is not only true in SM Baguio.  The tree cuttings is only much celebrated because of the number of trees fell all at one time.  But if you look at Baguio itself, it is now much different from the Baguio I saw when I was 8 years old, my first time to the city of pine trees. Then, Baguio still smelled of pine tree scent. Now 30 years after, Baguio is much changed because of congestion and industry. I could not discern the smell the pine trees anymore. In place of the many fallen pine trees and other tree species, I could see metal house roofs and concrete structures. I could estimate that was far more than the 170 SM Baguio obliterated. But these ones fell in silence. The demise of the pine trees, or even Baguio's original vegetation, is everyone elses and not an SM monopoly. SM has a big share of the blame right now but everyone who let it reach this state is responsible. 
A ray of hope in some parts of Baguio

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Details of a Crowded Baguio

Cloudy view at Mines View Park
Sundot kulangot
People everywhere!
Tiger grass walis
After finishing the whirlwind session of checking plates and posting grades, I decided to catch a last leg of recreation. Spent the holy holidays giving out 1.0's, 1.25's etc. Was hoping that Easter will be a less stressful day.

Strawberries were in season
As last minute attempt, I went on a road trip to Baguio with my sisters, going against the traffic of returning city vacationers. It was almost 2 years since I last went up the summer capital. We got there around lunchtime, but after a five hour drive we only got to sightsee in very crowded SM and Mines View Park. Baguio is so confusing with the one way traffic and concrete barriers everywhere. And it seems majority still have not gotten tired of the holiday spirit. The streets are full of vehicles and the attractions, of course, with tourists. And to add to the pressure, it was drizzling. Most of time we spent doing shopping, shopping and shopping. We did a little of eating too. Souvenir prices are jacked up because of the demand. But that did not stop us from haggling and getting the best price for our pasalubong items.   Took snaps of what my sisters and nephews were checking out.

To everyone a very happy Easter!
different versions of the x-rated barrel Igorot man

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Bonsai Garden will be Lonely

The bonsai garden is Sir Mody Manglicmot's legacy
Three months ago I went to the U.P. Bonsai Garden to facilitate a Metro Home magazine photoshoot.  A week earlier I asked Mr. Mody Manglicmot if I could feature the garden for the magazine, which he readily said yes. Photographer William Ong spent about 3 hours taking the right photo angles to feature. It took me another couple of days to finish a 600 word article which came out in the February issue. I took the angle of how Sir Mody painstakingly shaped the garden from its former dump site state and turned it to a legacy which he could be proud of. Little did I know that my article would be one of the last made in his lifetime.
We'll miss Sir Mody walking around the garden

Last Tuesday morning, I received news that Sir Mody passed away because of a heart ailment. Wednesday night I went back again to the bonsai garden to attend a tribute mass to the bonsai master.  I was in the company of a lot of Sir Mody's friends who knew him as far back as his school days in Nueva Ecija, his farming and horticultural teacher years in JASMS and his more recent and known stint as the bonsai guru. I realized that in his almost 80 years, he has formed bonds with a lot of people as family man, teacher, colleague, plant enthusiast and as a Christian. Seeing the fruit of his friendships immersed in his 10 year masterpiece, the bonsai garden, was overwhelming.  Seats were filled and the garden was overflowing, Mang Mody's lifetime of memories came alive that night. His legacy was truly inspiring to everyone who came.
The bonsais will be lonely
A lot of people will miss mild mannered Sir Mody.  He will be missed as common fixture in the horticulture and bonsai garden shows. Definitely on my next visit to the bonsai garden, I will miss his personal tours of his bonsais and the other interesting plant collections.  The bonsais and the garden will be lonely without his presence.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Carpet of Yellow

Narra flowers on paver
Flowering narra
The carpet of yellow narra flowers
Quick Post: It is unusual to see the Ateneo empty of people on a Monday morning. The absence of crowds is compensated with a bright yellow color carpeting the pavements and lawns around campus.  Prolific bloomers narra (Pterocarpus indicus) and siar (Peltophorum pterocarpum) were at their best, flashing their golden display of flowers.  The sudden blow of the breeze sends thousands of petals showering down onto the few onlookers below the canopy.  A spectacle, yet only a few people would get to appreciate its beauty. Just goes to show that the trees bring out their flower not primarily for people to enjoy.  In a few more weeks these would turn into pods which carry narra and siar seeds. Thus the blooms would have properly served their purpose to entice...but not humans but the trees' pollinators.

Siar flowers on the grass