Rock On

Love my garden! Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry said the message that had come halfway around the world from Mamaroneck with a picture (above right) of the quarter moon rock garden. It was the very last thing I had worked on in the Mamaroneck garden and and I'm pleased to see it survived the winter and is up and raring to go this season- ok maybe not the Rosemary.

Coincidentally just the other week I was in the supermarket and they had a new stash of succulents for sale and I picked up three so that I could have a pot of them here (above left). It's a reminder not just of the quarter moon but how the idea of of it took root almost four years ago. Ceramic pots are ridiculously cheap here so there is very likely more potted succulents to come.

While the succulents are something that translates well here, the woody herbs, that are the other feature of the quarter moon- not so much. I haven't eaten fresh Oregano, Thyme or Sage this year that I've spent back home. They aren't available in the plant nurseries here and to be honest there is little incentive to track them down or try to grow them from seed when the many local herb alternatives that are easy to grow are plentiful and a natural fit for the local cuisines. OK I might make one exception - sage, the occasional Carbonara would be awesome.


A recent outing with my brother in law the orchid geek  has got me  a little more interested in this species. Although I admire the exotic alien beauty of the blooms and how photogenic they are, they seem strangely awkward to me in a garden setting. A visit to the orchid garden in the Singapore Botanical garden didn't dispel this notion - except perhaps in the Cool House where they were staged more naturalistically on tree trunks.

During this visit to a couple of local orchid vendors, one a nursery and the other a private collector something else struck me about them and it wasn't the flowers. Both these vendors specialized in wilder varieties that were much smaller, had a more interesting range and variety of leaf shapes with no flowers or less conspicuous flowers which they were more likely to comment on their scent than their looks.

The first to catch my eye was a Denrobium, maybe this one with a leaf shape that did not look orchid like at all. Everything was also grown on these twigs, branches and planks of wood and hung on the fence or suspended in mid air. I couldn't help thinking they looked like those floating islands in the movie Avatar. And that's when my interest really kicked in because I started to notice that there were other things growing along with those tiny orchids - a miniature Hoya, moss, ferns. They really were like little floating islands with their own little eco systems. I bought three of the ones that had lots of other stuff growing on them.

What do they need I asked? Oh just water and maybe a little diluted foliar feed now and then. After years of digging and soil preparation and attendance to the concept of soil medium, it's a little difficult to wrap one's brain around this epiphytic thing where the plant  derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and sometimes from debris accumulating around it. 

I hung them, on advice, in the branches of our Gardenia Jasminoides, then after a couple of weeks shifted one to a spot nearby with similar conditions, shady but not too shady, where there's a gap in the fence.  At one of those orchid places, he had some growing in the chain link of his front gate. This is all adding up to some very interesting variables. No medium, vertical possibilites, interesting variety of foliage shapes and the flowers are a bonus. If I think about some more aesthetically pleasing alternatives to chain link and scraps of plank and rubber foam - there's some seriously interesting gardening possibilities and design fun to be had here. 

All Posts: