Monday, February 08, 2016

Turning over a new leaf

Well, it's been over a week since I started this post, saving the pictures and deciding to continue another day. For the most part of January I was preoccupied with foliage -- well, plants in general, but to be more specific, plants that could provide cover and protection for particular portions of our home. In a nutshell, someone who seemed to plan to break into our house nearly succeeded, and what could have been his access point into the property was a portion of the fence in which the lantana hedge had thinned out after excessive trimming. Furthermore, the formerly narrow and weak stems of the plant had developed into thick and hardy branches over the course of five years, thereby providing a convenient aid to scale the wall.

So, due to this incident, my concern has been to make our home more secure and less attractive to elements with less-than-noble intentions. Plants with plenty of thorns (and no thick trunks/branches to serve as possible ladders for would-be intruders) were on my mind, and I asked family and friends for ideas. Bougainvillea came up several times; thorns plus the aesthetic factor made it the final choice as replacement for the picture-perfect lantana, which had to go soon. Cacti came to mind, too, and so began the search for (and research on) the perfect kind to suit our purpose.

In the course of all this, Pinterest had also been giving me lots of ideas. I was mentally drooling over pretty floral arrangements and creatively landscaped gardens. What beauty! What's more, the proliferation of DIY projects eventually made those quirky and (mostly) doable stuff appealing and not that hard to accomplish -- even by me! So, short version -- I spent quite a lot of time looking around garden shops to see what's out there, to admire all those floral beauties, and decide on what could go into our garden.

One of the plants I saw and instantly selected had wonderful multi-colored leaves. I had seen a similar plant before but didn't know what it was, and up close the foliage was even more interesting. It feels like autumn in the tropics!

This pink one is among my favorite leaves:

And this has a watercolor feel going on:

A light-colored one, with jagged edging like the pink one earlier:

Several days after being planted in pots, one of the leaves dropped to the soil, dead. And this is how it looked:

By the way, I learned that these are the leaves of a gumamela (hibiscus) plant! At least now we get to delight in pretty foliage and the occasional buds and blooms.

It's amazing how I see ladybugs in artwork always portrayed as red and black, yet I haven't seen a single one with that color combination. Those that I've seen -- one of which I spotted on the pretty leaves -- always look like this:

In the same garden shop where I purchased the gumamela was something else that caught my fancy. The first time I visited the place to look for hanging plants, and on the next visit to buy some potting mix, I had seen a fascinating plant with holes on its leaves.

"Oh, what's that? Did some pest do that or are they natural holes?" I asked the lady who was helping me with the things I needed.

"They're natural," she replied with a smile.

I ended up buying a few of these Swiss cheese plants -- scientific name: Monstera deliciosa. They sure are fascinating, and it's even more interesting to know that those holes aren't there merely for a quirky overall look.

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