Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Anthurium anthem


For sheer flamboyance and in-your-face attention grabbing, few flowers can beat Anthuriums (Anthurium andreanum). I think I'm a little prone to drama myself because I love growing these very sophisticated-looking beauties.

Of course, it really helps that they are some of the easiest plants to grow in the tropics. Just give them bright shade (which makes them the perfect indoor plant) and a medium that doesn't choke them to death and they really take off. Here in Mumbai, I grow them potted up in a mix of river sand and broken chunks of brick but I've heard of them being grown tied to trees too... they're epiphytes, after all.

I first saw anthuriums being grown in my childhood home. My grandmother loved plants and the more exotic they were, she would try her best to get hold of at least one to work her magic on. Anthuriums were not really easily available those days but somehow she managed to build up a decent collection which was the pride of the garden and the subject of much oooh-ing and aaah-ing from visitors.

The anthuriums available nowadays seem to be unlimited in colour and size. I've seen them in all colours from brilliant red to bubble-gum pinks (see the photo above), pure whites, vivacious oranges, and even brown, green and yellow. The absolute favourite though, seems to be the bright red anthuriums.

Their brilliant colours make them a favourite among florists. That, and their longevity . The flowers I cut from my garden to brighten up my rooms, easily keep looking their best for at least 2-3 weeks in just plain water and no added floral preservatives. And that's saying a lot!


The very colourful, textured spathes (that's what they are called) are actually modified bracts. If you want to see the actual flowers, you've got to search for them on the spadix (that's the fleshy white part of the 'flower'). See those little bumps on the spadix in the photo above? Those are the flowers.
Hmmm.... you may want to get the magnifying glass out if you want to spot them.
(By the way, ignore those whitish faint splotches you may see on the flowers and leaves, will you? That's from a liberal dose of neem oil applied rather enthusiastically by the guy who helps me with this.)

The spadix can be quite colourful too, changing from yellow to white as the flower matures and then to green as it ages even more.
Somehow I find the white anthuriums very tranquil , unlike its red counterparts which seem to literally vibrate with drama.


If a flower is called the 'sweetheart flower' it has to live up to its name, don't you think?

Sometimes, just sometimes, you find a plant that likes to add a few twists of its own. A couple of my plants sometimes are a little confused whether they want a spathe to become a leaf instead. The result is a large leaf with splotches of colour in them and a spadix which sticks to the crown of the plant.
I have no idea whether this a mutant version but it is definitely interesting. It doesnt seem to be caused by any disease because the plants kept close to it show no such inclination. Sometimes the splotches of colour literally fill the leaf-spathe and it looks like my plant has a spathe which is about a foot long!

Just about the only minus point I can think of in the anthurium is its lack of fragrance (which those prone to allergies may applaud) . But I'm sure the numerous anthurium breeders are working on that. Till they come up with a solution, I'll just enjoy the visual drama.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Singapore Sling

Pour masses of tropical flowers all across a spotlessly clean city.

Fill it all around with beautiful waterscapes

Add liberal doses of the most heart-stopping orchids

Almost fill with equal quantities

of some gorgeous butterflies

and some ultra-colourful birds.

Top with a Merlion

Serve unstirred, garnished with a cheery Costus.

That is my version of the classic Singapore Sling cocktail. If you want to try out the liquid version, you can find the recipe here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Orchid welcomes and farewells

My vote for the best indoor display of orchids? The Orchid Garden and Koi Pond at Terminal 2 at Changi airport, Singapore . Just look at these photos ! Oh, and do click on them to enlarge. These orchids deserve your full-screen attention. I had to literally pick my jaw up from the floor where it was doing a great job of drooling all over the place.

For those of you haven't seen it before, the Orchid Garden seems to make everything else look like they're arranged around it. As if it were the raison d'etre of the airport itself. It probably is, for all I know... I can't think of a better welcome for an incoming passenger than to be greeted by this flamboyant display. Or, for that matter, a more memorable farewell !

Huge pieces of driftwood placed around the Koi pond are liberally smothered with the most amazing tropical orchids. Each area seemed to specialise in different orchids. The one in the photo above shows the Phalaenopsis orchids.

Here's a close-up . I didn't notice those little clips clamping the stem to a wire. No wonder they arch so gracefully.

I loved this one! Somehow the photo doesn't do it justice but believe me, it was truly beautiful.

Then there was this huge display of Oncidiums. Can you imagine a 10-foot tall drift of yellow? Or a zillion Dancing Girls (as they're also known) all nodding their heads at you?

Yellow looks great on Dendrobiums too. There was this big patch of yellow dends. which was really eye-catching. Somehow I always associate dends with purple or white so seeing this big patch of sunshine was really refreshing.

Mmm... I think I could go back to Singapore just to wander around the airport garden! They should put it up in the guidebooks as one of Singapore's best tourist attractions.

I loved the way the driftwood was arranged around the pond. This was one of my favourite spots, with a piece overhanging the pond. The Phalaenopsis look so healthy that I'm really jealous.

The photo below gives a better look at how the pond and garden harmonize. Believe me, it looks much, much more impressive in person but I just had to share this with you anyway.
Envy loves company, you know !

Monday, May 4, 2009

Guess who's back ?

This is one of those odd posts . It started off as a reply to everyone's comments to my On Holiday post and then I kept writing more and its almost a mini-post by itself so I decided to publish it as one without making any changes.

Thanks for writing in all of you. It was great to take off for 2 weeks like that and I'm still basking in the holiday-induced lazy, mellow mood. I've got lots to tell you so keep checking in, okay? So...Kamini, Sampoorna, Tina, Patricia ... everyone! (you really dont want me to name everyone, do you? I just flew back in today; have some mercy! my brain is still a bit fuzzy) thanks for wishing that I have a great time and that I enjoy my holiday.

By the way, I'm sorry it took so long for everyone's comments to show up here and then for my replies to follow. I didnt have much access to the internet while I was away and so I couldnt approve them for publication. Sorry!

Sandeep, that's wicked of you! But come to think of it, if they have those orchids in the Singapore jails maybe I would've even enjoyed it !

Orchid photos by the bucket-load are queueing up to be blogged about. And I still feel as if I should've clicked more photos but I was too busy gawking at everything to remember to take photos. What can I say? Singapore is just one of those places that invite photo-taking.

Yes, I did indulge in some retail-therapy too as advised. Except it left me more stressed out than anything else because I kept converting everything into Indian rupees and nearly screeched with shock everytime. Remind me to leave my calculator back home next time, okay?

GT, consoling myself with thoughts of Aloo Parathas didnt help. I pigged out on Laksa and Nasi Goreng and Ayam Penyet and all kinds of things that I dont remember the names of but remember the flavours only too well. Yummy! Oh yes, and its all showing up on me too! :(

Amila, you should've seen the butterflies at Tioman (yes, we hopped over there too)! I was almost scared to walk thinking I would step on a few along the way. Beautiful!

But more later, okay? I just wanted to say hi to all of you today itself. I've got to get all my photos loaded up onto my computer but first I need sleep . Bye !