What Brings You Joy?

What would brighten up your day?

Would a bright coloured canna bring you joy?

 How about red cockscomb, red periwinkle or red frangipani?

Surely, the sunflowers would bring some warmth despite being partially chewed up by insects.

For me, I find joy in small surprises like accidentally discovering a bug in the fungi photo below.

I enjoy seeing kids playing and laughing amongst the plants I care for.
Below are kids from 3 different families in the neighbourhood.

Joy is having my 3 dogs posing in the same direction at the same time.

What joy it is to see them posing and smiling!
They are sending love your way.

What brings you joy?

For more joyful hot, loud and proud flowers, visit A Plant Fanatic in Hawaii now.


Cattle on the Highway

It's interesting to watch the symbiotic relationship between cattle and birds.
As the cattle graze, birds look out for insects which are being disturbed.

Although there were grass everywhere, these cattle found the grass in the middle of the highway the moo-st palatable.

It is possible that these cattle were already grazing here before the infrastructure was built about 5 years ago.

I would very much like to take close-up shots of birds perching on the cows, looking for ticks.
Unfortunately it wasn't an ideal place to be taking photos, nor to be having a meal in the first place.
Oncoming cars slowed down.
Someone even wound down the window and said something.
I can't be sure if he was talking to me or the cows.
I just hope no one took out the camera and snapped of me.

I'll be back for moo-re photos!



To learn something new, take the path that you took yesterday.
John Burroughs

There go the people.
I must follow them for I am their leader.
Alexandre Ledru-Rollin

If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.
Anatole France 


Zinnia - Bouquet and Propagation

It's bouquet time again at Ramblings from a Desert Garden....
I use bright pink and light yellow coloured Zinnias in this bouquet.
Basil acts as an aromatic filler.
Each time I walk past this bouquet, I pluck a basil leaf and enjoy the aroma.

My first bouquet attempt was with red Zinnias and red chillies.

I use Zinnia because they are easily grown, beautiful and can last a week as cut flowers.

Aren't Zinnias just lovely?

Stem Propagation

Zinnia can be propagated via stem.
This method is useful when you are not hoping for any surprises in the propagation result.
I just cut the stem, stuck it in a pot of soil and water it daily.
It has only been a few weeks and you can see that it is blooming already, as in the photo above.

Seed Propagation

The way I usually grow Zinnia is by sprinkling the seeds on  a bare patch of ground in a sunny location.
Since they germinate so well, I do not even sow them half inch deep into the ground and cover them with loose soil like I do for other types of seeds.

To save the seeds, I usually cut out the dried seed heads on a very hot day, remove the petals and save them in a bottle, to be given away.
To ensure that they don't turn moldy, you may want to dry it for a week.
I am now removing all those Zinnia plants with single-petal.
Cross pollinations amongst the best plants should produce better future batches of Zinnias.

For more seed and propagation ideas, head over to Seed Week at Kebun Malay Kadazan Girls.

For interesting mosaics from all over the world, visit Mosaic Monday at Dear Little Red House.


Free Garden Edge Materials

Most of my garden beds started out without an edge.
In fact, most of them still are, like the one below.
It is only covered with mulch which consist of cut grass and some dried leaves.

Sometimes I use tree trunks and branches as a garden edge.

I also use portulaca and other low-growing creepers to act as an edge.

The above are 2 Garden Pest Controllers sniffing the garden edge for my red sugar cane patch.

Coconut husks, wooden planks and rocks are the other materials that I use as garden edges.
All these materials are easily available here and for free too!
I love the natural look of these materials.
I have a not-so-natural item which is a used car tyre.
It is almost completely hidden in the first photo as I grew the plants inside and around it.

How do you edge your garden beds?

Fer from My Garden in Japan is hosting a World Garden Carnival with the topic 'New Year Gardening Resolutions.'
One of mine would be to continue to look out for new garden edging materials which are easily obtainable.
Head over to  My Garden in Japan for the links to interesting 2011 Gardening Projects all over the world.

This is also my Fertilizer Friday submission where flaunting of flowers and weekly fertilizing are encouraged.
Thanks to Tootsie of Tootsie Time for the opportunity to flaunt my flowers.

p.s. Diana of Kebun Malay-KadazanGirls, See the sunflowers plants next to the yellow cosmos in the last collage? Those are from the seeds you sent. They will be flowering soon. Yippee!


Picture This Photo Contest - January 2011

Do you know that Gardening Gone Wild has organized a Picture This Photo Contest for January 2011?
This contest is designed for point and shoot camera loving people like many of us.
The theme is Macro in Mason Jar.

Below are the items and tools I selected from my garden for the macro shots.
They include flowers, bird's nest fern, pebbles, rocks, glass jar, clay balls and greens.

I came up with many variations since it was a fun experiment.

Below are some sunflower variations.

I could have come up with bug variations as well but decided that play time was over for the day.
After all that I went through, I selected my first photo to participate in the contest.
It is the simplest and easiest one.
I must say that I am very impressed with David Perry's photo of onions in a jar. 
He used only onions inside and outside the jar and the effect is just awesome.

Do leave me a note if you wish to participate so that I can come by to admire your photos.


Blooms at the Nature Park - Jan 2011

After looking at the Wildlife in Kuala Selangor Nature Park, let's admire the flowers offered there.

Above are some 'flying flowers' busy sipping away at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park.
According to Commander from Butterflies of Singapore, who is an expert in butterflies, the first one is called a Blue Glassy Tiger and the second one, a Long Banded Silverline.

Most of the wild flowers were white.
Although they were not very showy, the butterflies seem to adore them.
Perhaps these flowers were bursting with untainted, juicy nutrients.
According to Donna of Garden Walk Garden Talk in her latest Garden Magazine, white is a great place to give the eye a rest.

Yellow was as popular as white in this park. 
There was even a blanket of yellow flowers on the ground.
But the butterflies must have found white a lot more relaxing.

Do you know that lantana is a weed?
Isn't this the kind of weed we really wouldn't mind growing in the garden?
What are your favourite weeds and wildflowers?

For more blooms, please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.


Wildlife in Kuala Selangor Nature Park

Though I complained about missing many of the wildlife in my Nature Park post, I did manage to capture a few poor photos of some of the wildlife in Kuala Selangor.

Above are creatures living in the mud flats and mangrove forest.
They include mud skippers, blue crab, red crab, king fisher, water monitor lizard and some dead snails.
There were otters too.

This Brackish Lake System was created for birds to roost and feed. 
It also acts as a safe nesting area for many birds.
We could see huge birds with their nests on the trees.
Unfortunately I didn't have a suitable camera and my shots of the hawks and migratory birds turned out to be merely specks of white or black in the sky.
Finally I found a hawk that stool really still and managed to snap a photo at a close distance.

This shot came out a lot better than then the woodpecker shot. 
The wood pecker hid its head behind branches each time I clicked so I had to settle with this friendly hawk.

Red ants build a nest with leaves. 
One of them decided to hitch a ride on my back after I took this shot.
I thought the spider was kind of artistic with its web weaving.

Figs and ferns were abundant. 
Why are there holes and teeth marks on the tree trunks?

The berry photos above are before and after shots.
There is one photo which I took before using the mosquito repellent.
As you can see, the mosquito repellent made a lot of difference to the quality of macros.

Can you imagine gazillions of hungry blood suckers attached to your body?
If you decide to visit Kuala Selangor's Nature Park, you know what to bring with you.
Thankfully for us, a pharmacy was just within 300 metres away from the place.

....to be continued.


Nature Park

Here are some of the panoramic views of Kuala Selangor Nature Park.

  The Park of 800 acres shelters a wide variety of habitats.

The Park plays an important role in conservation.

It is a sanctuary for many mammals and birds including migratory shore birds.

So where are all the mammals and birds?

See the bunch of red-shirt mammals in front of my trail?

They enjoyed all the beautiful wildlife at close view.
Not wanting me to miss the beauty of wildlife, they kept yelling at me to hurry up and admire what they saw.

Each time I caught up with them, all I get is a description of a huge water monitor lizard or gigantic insect that they saw.

....to be continued.

Just to add, after reading an article about Sustainable Horticulture written by Patty of Gardening Pomona, I appreciate the Nature Park even more. Patty mentioned that cities and communities should be built with animals in mind since obviously they need food, shelter and water like us.  Creating animal corridors in cities and at areas linking cities and towns will be a solution to provide space for animals whose homes have been taken over my human and where Nature Parks are too far away for these animals to migrate to.

I am thankful that we still have many Nature Parks around in Malaysia.


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