Purple floral world
THERE are many varieties of trees and shrubs that produce purple flowers in and around Kuching.
The world of purple flowers has a special appeal to our interests in colour-matching for landscaping as well as displays.
Let’s see what we can come up with.
During my recent morning walk at one of the few gardens around Kuching city, I came across two trees, blooming feverishly that made me to pause and ponder.
What trees bear purple flowers? What purple flowers do we have here?
Purple orchid tree (Bauhinia purpurea) To be precise, I saw this type of tree that can grow to a height of 35 feet with a similar spread.
The canopy is rounded, symmetrical and supported by a smooth, slender trunk.
The flowers grow along the arched branches up to several inches wide and they resemble orchid flowers — so the name is coined from the shape of the blooms.
Yet, these flowers are fragranced. This shrub or small tree grows with an open and spreading root system.
Leaf blades cut deeply along the middle into the two blunt lobes and the bases are deep heartshaped with pale green ventral sides.
Though named butterfly tree or purple Bauhinia of the Leguminosae family, we have more of pinkish than purple flowers, pollinated as pods.
The pods are 25cm long and 1.5cm wide with a curve line resembling a blade.
The tree can be propagated from seeds and cuttings. The bark was once used for dressing wounds and boils in India and the flowers can be cooked in curries and used for pickles.
Purple flowers The floral world provides us with lots of purple flowers from trees and shrubs in our garden. We can see purple Bougainvillea and Morning glory, among others found in our garden.
Let me share a few examples with our young readers.
Lavenders in purple create a sea of purple blossoms. Likewise, we have purple petunia, salvia, and a host of other flowering plants.
Hydrangea This bushy purple blossom is easy to recognise both in appearance and scent at nurseries or highlands in Malaysia.
Although naturally purple, the colour of hydrangea can change, depending on the types of soil or feed they receive.
Acid soil produces red purple flowers while alkaline soil, white flowers. The plant, when cultivated in a low-lying land like Kuching may not flower at all but gives us luxurious healthy foliage. Why?
Temperature has a role in the imitation of blooming. The flowers are suitable for planting at partial sun areas in well-drained pots or ground but moisture should be maintained for potplanting.
Zinnias Zinnias is a very easy to grow flowering plant and can come in different colours and give good ground cover for landscaping. It needs full sunlight and welldrained soil.
Dianthus A flower with uniquely-shaped wispy petals and polka dot pattern.
It is a genus of more than 300 species from the family called Caryophyliaceae and is native to Asia and Europe.
It is easily grown here. The seeds from the previous generation can grow wild in the garden when spread by wind.
However, it needs fertile soil. Add fertilisers every month to ensure subsequent blooming. Sweet peas These were once commonly used for making perfumes. Planting can be tried from seeds, purchased at nurseries or even supermarket stores.
They need some support for the stems to climb and once established and hardy, will stick around for a while. Sweet peas are famous for their purple flowers that can be used as dye or ink.
Gloxinia Another temperate flower but in temperature-regulated rooms or smart gardening atmosphere, these African violets can be easily planted.
The delicate flowers come in multi-coloured varieties and purple predominates in a leading species of this group of African violets. Here, violet is an alternate term for purple.
Gardening techniques Smart gardening techniques involve controlled air temperature and computer-assisted technology called fertigate culture where the application of fertilisers and water essential to plant growth is controlled by computer or even an iPhone.
The plants are grown in cocopeat bags without normal natural soil at all.
This system of modern horticulture was recently displayed at Rampangi Station, Samtubong, and also at the Agrofest exhibition at Penview Premises in Bako, Kuching, from Oct 18-20, 2018.