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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Chateau Grand Bigard revisted - Part 1

Chateau Grand Bigard revisted - Part 1

I noticed that the posts of the Floriad at Chateau Grand Bigard are among the most popular posts so since I am in Samoa and was unable to visit this years Floriad at Chateau Grand Bigard I have decided to post some of the many photos I took last year and never published.

Grand Bigard Keep (fortified tower) on left and one of the towers of Fortified Gate House on right

As you come through the Gate House and enter the ground, if you turn left you see this.
As you get closer you will see that on the inside perimeter of the low hedge boardering the lawns are beds of flowers.
The flowers have lables but unfortunately I did not take a pen and notebook to record any of the information on. I wish I had as I am sure there are people who would like to know the names of the flowers.

Fritillaria Imperialis
These are Fritillaria Imperialis they look quite stunning especially when they have them growing in beds or contrasting or complimentary coloured tulips or other flowers.

The flower arrangments were brilliant. They had various combinations. Some were beds of a single type of flower and colour, then there were mixed beds of two types of flowers or the same type but different colours, or as in the case above a majority of one type and one or two 'strays' to startle the eye. They also had mixed patches that looked like what one might expect in a forest glade where a multitude of species would just grow together in an explosion of colour.
But every bed was meticulously planned and planted according to a plan that is changed each year.

View of Gate Tower from entrance of bridge

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Monday, 22 April 2013

Random photos of Flowers, Bees, Kittens and Birds

Random photos of Flowers, Kittens and Birds

 Since I just published a long technical post here is some eye candy for those in need of some just for the sake of it photos of beautiful flowers, interesting insects, crazy kittens and a friendly bird. Enjoy

I was taking some photos of Mimosa pudica (Senstive plant) and Mimosa invisa (Giant senstive plant) at Malifa for a post I have been working on. I already have photos but needed some macros for illustration purposes.
As usual while taking the photos I started taking photos of other interesting plants and critters that happened to be there. In this case I was actually taking some photos of this plant because I wanted to identify it when I saw this bee busily ignoring my intrusion into her activities.

I have no idea what the plant is although I am sure everyone will say it is a weed ignoring the fact that a weed is simply a plant growing where a human does not want it to grow. In this case it was growing along the riverbank out of everyones way.

 It has interesting miniscule flowers and berries that were black-purple when ripe and green when unripe.

Here is another "Mystery Plant" I have growing at Alafua. I got it when I bought some plants a few months ago and it was a stray that was growing together with the plant I bought. It had stunningly pure white flowers and miniscule seeds that I have been trying unsuccessfully (so far) to germinate.

I have been trying to get a photo of the Hedychium gardnerianum (Kalihi Ginger) on the boundry behind the bedrooms at the house at Alafua in full bloom. I planted these in 2011 and they have bloomed en mass several times but either I have no batteries or it is raining or as was in this case the sun was in the wrong place and the yellows are a bit washed out in the panoramic shots.

Here is a close up and I could smell them from a few feet away. If you really want a whiff of these go up to Tiavi in the late evening. There are stands of them along the road that you can smell as you drive past. There is also a swathe of  Hedychium coronrarium White Hedychium around Tanumalala on the Cross Island Road to Lefaga. It appears that cool air has some effect on the potency of the scent because I have noticed that they smell much stronger during the night, evenings or early moring or during the day only up high in the mountains where it is cool.
In fact the most stunning visual and olfactory experience I had with Hedychiums was up at the place where you go to view Waimea Canyon on Kawaii. That was absolutely sublime.

I cannot recall what this is called but it is the flower of a plant that grows on trees. All I can say for sure is that it is belongs to the family Araceae is

It is growing on the Indian Mulberry that fell over during Cyclone Evan but has yet to be chopped up and removed mainly because it is still alive, flowering and bearing fruit which several species of birds visit regularly.
Pebble "accidentaly" getting in the photo AGAIN

Invariably when I am in the garden taking pictures of plants, birds and other critters ... this guy turns up looking for camera opportunities. His two brothers (Stoney and Rocky)  sometimes turn up also and wander around pretending not to follow me, but he does it the most. Don't believe anything he says about "I just happened to be climing the tree or walking there and did not realise ..." I am sure he does it deliberately. Just as he deliberately moves when you actualy do want to take a picture.
You only have to look into those crazy green eyes to realise the depths of his deviousness.

This Wattled Honeyeater (Foulehaio carunculatus) is one of two that have claimed the area around the house as their territory. This includes the huge mango tree, all the Indian Mulberries and the Pink Orchid tree. I occassionally assist them in their turf wars with the Red Vented Bulbuls.

They have become so used to me doing stuff in the garden and especially under the mango tree that they will actually fly close by and perch on branches only a few feet away from me. They also let me approach them much more than before which means that now I can take much better pictures of them as it is much easier to take decent photos from 3-4 feet away than trying to zoom in from 15-20 feet away.
They still flit about from flower to flower and branch to branch but they tend to stay for a decent interval chirpping away happily (or bossily) looking me over and doing their thing.

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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Walking Irises: A case of mistaken identity - Neomarica and Trimezia

Walking Irises: A case of mistaken identity - Neomarica and Trimezia

Neomarica caerulea “Regina”
Ok we have had these plants for ages so in many ways it is an old friend. When I was a little boy we had them growing in the garden at Centipede Alley at Moto’otua. When we moved to Alafua they were dug up and transplanted there. I latter dug some up and transplanted them at Moto’otua and then to Vailele where they disappeared while I was away. I assumed they died out due to the place being on the coast but according to various sources they are drought and salt tolerant so maybe it was something else.  In any case it was not till around 2008 that I stumbled across a couple plants being sold under the Banyan trees on Beach Road in Apia and made arrangements to buy one after work.
Neomarica caerulea “Regina”
I planted that single plant at Malifa and as it grew and sent up offsets. I waited patiently until they were sufficiently big, then dug the whole clump up and divided it and replanted the individual plants. When I moved to Alafua I took some with me and planted them there again as the ones that had been left behind had disappeared.

Neomarica caerulea “Regina”
We always referred to this plant as a Blue Iris although later on I began to doubt the accuracy of this name. At Malifa there were some plants that looked like they were closely related to this since they resembled each other except for a number of differences.

Yellow Walking Iris flower
First of all the flowers were much smaller and yellow speckled with brown. Also they had many more flowers on long thin flower stalks. Indeed the whole presentation of the flowers was entirely different as you can see.
Blue and Yellow Walking irises (not to scale)
On top of that they had this bizarre tendency to grow little plantlets out of the flowers. These would grow and the weight of the growing plantlets would make the stalk bow down until it touched the ground and the plantlets took root. They also multiplied by sending up offshoots.

The Blue ones on the other hand at most had three flowers per stalk and sometimes these flowers developed seed pods although I have never successfully grew any seeds out of them ...  yet.
Neomarica caerulea "Regina"

The other difference compared to the Yellow flowered plant is that the Blue one had much larger and sturdier leaves and a slightly different centre rib structure. Other than these differences the flowers apart from size and colour were remarkably similar which to me indicated that they were related being at least of the same genus.
Leaf of Neomarica caerulea "Regina" showing centre rib
The close resemblance of the flowers and the tendency of the yellow one to grow plantlets led me to the Neomaricas otherwise known as “Apostle Plants” or “Walking Irises”.

The name “Walking Iris“ refers to the tendency of the plant to grow plantlets and “walk” across a lawn while the “Apostle Plant” reference alludes to the belief that they always have twelve flowers per stalk which I can confirm is NOT true.
Yellow Walking iris Flower and plantlets forming on flower stalk
The whole “Walking” thing is what still confused me because the Blue ones that I have and the Blue ones that I have seen on line do NOT “walk” at all. Interestingly one site (LINK) addresses this very issue noting that:

 “Although it is considered a walking iris, we have only seen it walk under extreme stress.”
That statement is extremely interesting and could perhaps point to a reason for the tendency for these plants to “walk” because when you think about it developing plantlets that will “walk” could be a way of the plant to try to ensure that it continues by growing in a location that is hopefully more favourable to the continuation of itself than if it just sent up another offset. The “walking” plantlet would end up taking root some distance away from the mother plant which in some cases might make a world of difference to its survival. But that is just my theory.

But getting back to identifying the Blue flowered plants, the closest that I have found that matches the Blue Irises I have is Neomarica caerulea “Regina”.

There are a number of other varieties which I assume are cultivars of Neomarica caerulea. However, Neomarica caerulea “Regina” is the one that I think is the one that we have had all these years.

The Yellow one I have tentatively identified as Neomarica longifolia which some identify as being synonymous with Trimezia martinicensis and given the common name of Yellow Walking iris. Trimezia is a genus which belongs to the same family as Neomarica – which is Iridaceae.

PHOTO of Blue Iris

As it is I picked up another variety from Tului Peters at Samoan Nursery up at Aleisa a few months ago. It is a smaller plant than even the yellow one and if I remember correctly it has white flowers. But has not yet flowered and seems to be growing very slowly. Actually the plant is rather small, being about 12 inches / 30cm in height. I am assuming that this is its full size because one of the two plants I obtained had a plantlet which you would only get from a plant that had flowered unless this is yet another variety that manages to “Walk” without having flowered first which I find  very unlikely since from what I have read, flowering is part of the process.

PHOTO of small Neomarica

Maybe it is a Neomarica northiana given how it is supposed to be white.  I guess we will have to wait and see what it flowers look like.

As for the identity of the Yellow Iris that are still uncertain. I did some research on the whole Neomarica longifolia versus Trimezia martinicensis issue and found some interesting information.

First of all due to the close resemblance between plants of Noemarica and Trimezia they are often confused and misplaced in the wrong genus or treated as synonymous.

However, according to information from the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens citing Chukr & Giulietti (2001), there are distinctive vegetative characteristics that distinguish the genrea which are more accurate than looking at the flowers alone.

These are summarised as follows:
With regards to the Underground system Trimezia ALWAYS has a corm while Neomarica has a rhizome in 90% of the species and a corm in only 10%.

For the leaf bases (cataphylls) Trimezia has it’s cataphylls arranged in a spiral while Neomarica has it’s cataphylls arranged in a plane with the base of one clasping the one above
Leaf base of neomarcia caerulea
For the leaves Trimezia has flattened or circular leaves while Neomarica has leaves that are sword-shaped folded lengthwise

For the flowering stems (scape) Trimezia has circular in cross section and never leaf like while Neomarica has a flattened and leaf like flowering stem.
Flowering stem of Yellow Walking iris

Flowering stem of Blue Walking iris
Taking this information into account I think that the yellow irises that I have are actually a Trimezia. I indicate the genus only because I discovered that there are two species of Trimazia that match the description of the ones I have; T. martinicensis and T.  steyermarkii

So now I need to figure out if it is Trimezia martinicensis or Trimezia steyermarkii.
... to be continued


  • Family: Iridaceae – Genus Neomarica – Species: Neomarica caerulea
  • Family: Iridaceae – Genus Neomarica – Species: Neomarica longifolia
  • Family: Iridaceae – Genus Neomarica – Species: Neomarica northiana
  • Family: Iridaceae – Genus Trimezeia – Species: Trimezia martinicensis
  • Family: Iridaceae – Genus Trimezeia – Species: Trimezia steyermarkii,
Medical use
No information found

Glossary: PLEASE NOTE I will be updating the post to include the glossary as soon as I have completed it

References PLEASE NOTE I will be adding all the references and links to the on line source as soon as possible
Agristarts Entry on Iris Neomarica caerulea “Regina” LINK

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden Entry on Neomarica caerulea LINK
Kew Botanical Gardens LINK
Wikipedia Entry on: Iridaceae
Wikipedia Entry on: Neomarica
Wikipedia Entry on: Trimezia

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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Random Felonious Felines and Flowers

Random Felonious Felines and Flowers

Yes I still have tons of posts to publish all pending my completion of either research for text to accompany the photos or editing and verifying of the information or needing to get some additional photos to illustrate issues etc. The real problem is that I tend to work on several things at the same time (I am working on other writing projects aside from this blog).

Unknown Ground Orchid
Another thing that has added to the backlog is that while adding a whole bunch of gadgets to the blog which some of you may have noticed (e.g. the counter, most popular posts etc) I realised that I needed to revise the way I was tagging my posts and have been working out a systematic and logical way of tagging the posts to maximise their utility not only in terms of making the blog more visible to people searching for specific things through the various search engines but also to enable people reading the blog to easily find other posts that might interest them.

Clerodendrum thomsoniae - Bleeding Heart Vine
This has meant consolidating some tags while breaking down, expanding and/or adding others. I have more or less sorted that out and once that is decided then I’m going to go through all the published (and unpublished posts) and redo all the tags. Depending on how the internet is .... it could take some time or be done easily.

Pebble of the Ninja Cat Clan pretending to be cute and adorable

In the meantime just to keep you all happy here are some random photos I took in April 2013. Some will feature in later blog posts with additional text and information. Others are just for the eye candy value and hopefully some will bring a smile to some of you.

Bleeding Heart Vine

Harvest time - Seeds of a Mystery Plant

Another new serendipitous addition Unknown creeper 


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Additional information:

Here is a list of my blogs:

·         Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters (on plants, animals as well as gardening, conservation and environmental matters):

·         The Blood of  Souls (language, translation and etymology) :