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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Glorious pink Zephyranthes among other flora

When I went to the back porch to let the cat Felonious Feline yesterday morning I was quite delighted by an unexpected and astonishing view of a whole slew of pink rain lilies Zephyranthes in bloom. Scratchit was of course oblivious to this and made a beeline for her bowl while I went out to admire them. Two of the pots have about thirty flowers in each (yes I counted them). Three other pots have one to four and one of the little poly bags has a couple.

I went to get the camera but the battery was low because in spite of the label "heavy duty" these ones did not last long. Apparently you need to buy special batteries made for use in digital cameras. I don't get it. Heavy Duty should mean heavy duty not heavy duty except if you use it in your digital camera.
Naturally I was so excited and anxious to take some photos that I messed up the pictures and managed to take four blurry shots before the battery died.

I forgot to buy batteries and today they are looking as if the flowers will not last much longer. I suppose I should have held of pollinating them but all I could think of was how this many flowers could translate into tons of seed heads and a gazillion itty bitty black seeds that would grown into more Zephyranthes and produce even more dazzling floral displays.

I used a most unsophisticated method possible which consisted of bending the long stems and making the flowers kiss each other. In the meantime here are some photos I took not too long ago of other plants.


This is a Blue Iris which was from a huge clump that I divided and transplanted only a few months ago. Amazingly they have already started flowering. These flowers look a bit raggedly because they are all wet from the rain. Also to catch them at their best you need to get them in the morning soon after they have opened up. Towards the afternoon they start closing up and do not look as spectacular.

Here you can see some of the blue iris plants. As you can see they are quite small still and yet amazingly they are already flowering. They belong to the Iris family ( Iridaceae). I think these ones belong to the Neomarica genus but I am not sure. I have a similar plant with smaller yellow flowers which are definately Neomarica. Neomarica are also known as Walking Irises or Apostle Plants. this is becasue the flower stalk has numerous flowers (supposedly twelve hence the name) which eventually become little plantlets. As these grow the stalk dips until the plantlets are able to take root which gives rise to the "walking" bit. Here you can see one where the little plantlets are growing where the flowers were.
Unfortunately the big blue ones I have do not do this. However, there are pictures of other Neomarica species that look similar and are also non walking. the closest that I think resembles this variety is the Brazilian Iris (Neomarica gracilis or caerulea). This site has a picture. They look very similar even the three flowers on one stem but the stems of these ones have never ever bent down and taken root.

Here is one of my favourites a Hedychium which is also known as butterfly ginger. I have four varieties; white, salmon and a creamy yellow and a buttery yellow. The one on top is the creamy yellow one. Hedycium are native to the foothills of the Himalayas and have an intense and divine fragrance. Anyone who has gone over the Vailima cross island road in the evening or at night will have smelt them as they get over the top and descend toward Lotofaga as there is a huge patch growing along the road in one of the cattle farms there.
I also remember an even more intense encounter with these on Kauaii up at Waimea Canyon. It seems that the scent is stronger in cool weather because when I was up at the Waimea Canyon it was in the middle of the day and it was very cool. Up at Afiamalu it only gets cool at night unless it is a rainy or overcast day. The ones I have growing at Malifa only smell strongly in the evening. During the day you have to practically stick your nose into the flower to smell it.

This one is the buttery yellow Hedycium. I think it is Hedychium flavescens. I will be planting a whole lot of Hedychium at Alafua along the fence which runs along the side of the house where the bedrooms are. I have not decided if I will plant just one variety or all four in blocks. I will be planting them in other locations too so it is more a matter of aesthetics than of planting one variety or another. The buttery yellow one seems to be hardier and have bigger flower heads so I might put those in by the bedrooms

At Malifa I planted some Hedycium at the base of some of the Avocado (Persea americana) and Moso’oi a.k.a. Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata) saplings to protect the trees from careless idiots with whipper snippers who kept going to close and damaging the young saplings in one case stripping the bark of and practically ring barking one of the saplings. I also planted some teuila aka Red Ginger (Alpinia purpurata) around another avocado sappling
The Hedychium Genus belongs to the Zingiberaceae Family which is part of the Zingiberales Order.  Strangely most of the plants that I have belong to the Order Zingiberales and most of these to the Zingiberaceae Family. These include the Rattle plants (The Marantaceae Family) and the Helliconias (family Heliconiaceae), Torch Gingers (Etlingera), Beehive Gingers (Zingiber spectabile), Tumeric (Curcuma), Ginger (Alpinia) and Ginger (Zingiber officinale) from the Zingiberaceae Family.

There are so many stunning species available in the Zingiberales Order and the Zingiberaceae Family in particular. Whenever I go anywhere I notice what plants are there. Its amazing how often people are oblivious to what they have growing in their gardens or on their property and worse how often precious and not easily obtainable species are chopped down, pulled out and thrown away or burnt all in the guise of "cleaning up".
Every now and then I have been somewhere and been able to anticipate the destrution and managed to rescue a few plants.
Actually I saw some exquisite little plants growing down by the river at Alafua which I fear are in danger. I am not sure but they could be May flowers they have flower clusters with tiny little white bell shaped flowers. I need to ensure that they are not decimated by the vegetable garden planters there at the moment clearing land.

I transplanted some Tumeric in the front yard at Malifa and they were growing fine but they all withered and died down. I am hoping that the rhizome is still viable and will resprout as it did in the past when I had them in big poly bags until Ninja Cat started using it as her litter box. I am still not sure if it is the variety that is used to produce tumeric but the rhizome certainly smells like that and stains your fingers yellow if you crush it.
The Ginger that I have growing in a few locations is the edible variety. I am only certain of this because they grew from rhizomes I bought from the market and stores specifically so I could grow some.

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