Pur­ple flo­ral world

The Borneo Post - - NATURE - By Pik Ung Chien colum­nists@the­bor­neo­post.com

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.

Hy­drangea.

Bauhinia pur­purea.

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