April Shower Trees Blooming in the City

The month of April starts the long dry season in the western parts of the country and the intense heat can be unbearable. But such heat also bring in the beautiful blooms of the April shower tree.

Cassia fistula blooms ( photo taken in Barangay Bagbag, Novaliches)

Seeing a lot of trees in bloom within Metro Manila can be a respite and a lovely sight to behold despite water shortages , power interruptions and earthquakes. Yellow colored flowers symbolizes happiness , good luck and getting positive energy.

Cassia fistula tree with flowers and seed pods

Common Names and Range

Cassia fistula is commonly known as Golden shower, Golden Rain, April Shower, Yellow Shower, Pudding pipe tree,Indian Laburnum, Kanya pistula, Caña Pistula, Pistula ( Tagalog speaking provinces) Bistula ( some parts of Sorsogon and Visayan provinces) , Ibabau ( Visayan) among others. This flowering tree was probably introduced into the country at an early date, probably by traders or immigrants from Southeast Asia which may have brought the seeds of this tree during the pre-hispanic times.

Cassia fistula tree with mature seed pods along Mother Ignacia street in Quezon City

Cassia fistula was featured in the Flora de Filipinas book by Father Blanco. The flowering tree seems to be wide spread in many places that some local botanists would argue that it can be an indigenous species to the country. The flowers are normally pollinated by carpenter bees and even sun birds.

The species is native from Pakistan, Indian subcontinent and within southeast Asia.  Golden shower tree is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae.

Cassia fistula is called Ratchaphruek in Thailand

Cassia fistula is called Ratchaphruek by Thais and is  the national tree and flower of Thailand. It is also the state flower of Kerala in India and of immense importance among the country’s Malayali population. This popular ornamental plant is also used in herbal medicine. The tree is also used in the production of paper and source of wood.

The flower was also featured in Thai, Laos, Canada and Indian postage stamps.

Folkloric Uses and Superstitious Beliefs

This tree is widely planted in many private subdivisions, community parks, Rizal park, intramuros, avenues, streets and cemeteries in many parts of the country.

Cassia fistula along Muralla street, Intramuros, Manila at the back of (PLM) Shrine of Jesus the Divine Teacher

This serves as focal point in many landscape projects, street side and boulevards. Some people believes that it attracts positive energy and wish can be granted once the flowers opened freely. One must make a wish just after the stroke of midnight  during full moon. One must gather few flowers and keep them on a tissue paper or handkerchief for keepsake.

Cassia fistula tree in full bloom near Pinoy Big Brother house along Eugenio Lopez Drive in Quezon City

In Laos, The flower are called Dok Khoun– Some people attach the flower on their cars and motorbikes during Lao New Year with the same belief that it will bring them good luck, happiness and safety while driving.  Its yellow colored flowers brings good luck, freshness, remembrance, brings positivity, brings happiness,intellect, clarity, enlightenment, loyalty and joy. They are also planted in front yards of one’s home.

An artist from Rizal province also told me that they use to gather the seed pods and dry them for several weeks. Use them as musical instrument, the sound is like maracas.

Cassia fistula with dozens of seed pods along Mother Ignacia street, Camelot Hotel

Another faith healer would use the seeds and rub them on skin on people that would visit her place. While a soothsayer in Quezon province (manghuhula ) would gather its seed pods and use the pods for fortune telling session. A peculiar ritual for the manghuhula is to gather seed pods during Mahal na Araw ( preferably during Good Friday )and have vesper ( orasyon) or magical incantation so that the seeds would have some potency to protect the owner. The seeds are sewn into a red cloth with markings, this are sometimes used as amulets to ward off evil intention or negative vibes.

Some us the leaves ( after pounding them ) seed pods are used as purgative, and extract from seed pods are used to alleviate constipation. The leaves are pounded and ground into a paste like consistency and are rubbed on ringworm ( an-an) and other fungal diseases.

Another urban story told to us by Mr. Carlos Valeriano Lazaro ( former president of POS and LBOS) state that whenever the April shower flowering season would appear. It means that the rainy season is just few weeks away.

Cassia fistula tree grows beside Camelot Hotel

Propagation and Care

Cassia fistula can be propagated by seed and vegetatively through cuttings and air layering.  April shower or Golden Shower trees can grow between 10 meters to 25 meters in height.

The key is collecting the seeds when they are mature but not overripe ( dark brown color). The best time to harvest the seed pod, Are the seed pods produce over last year’s blooming season.

The seeds germinate best when the days are long with extra hours of sunshine. Rinse the seeds in warm water to remove the dark pulp.

One can soak the seed in  water for about 24 hours. Then try to scar the seed by rubbing them on cement or any hard surface in order to scar the seed.

Try to plant each seed in its own gallon pot with drainage holes on the bottom. Fill the pots with lightweight, sterile medium. Sow the seeds 1 to 1.5 inch (2.5 cm to 3 cm) deep, then position the pots in a warm, indirect light condition.
Depending on the temperature condition, one can germinate the seedling between 3 weeks to about a month.
Propagating via seeds can be long process and can take between 3 to 5 years before it start blooming.
One can place the seedling on ground when the seedling reach at least 1 year, this will hasten the growth.

One must not forget to occasionally apply organic (compost) and inorganic fertilizer every two or three weeks interval.

Do not forget that regular pruning of this tree is needed before it get too tall. Enjoy the annual blooming season by having a viewing party or photo session with the tree.

Note: photos are taken by the author

Bibliographies, Sources,References:

India Biodiversity Portal

Heuzé V., Thiollet H., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2018. Golden tree (Cassia fistula). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO.

Madulid, Domingo , pages 214-215,A pictorial cyclopedia of Philippine Ornamental Plants

Cassia fistula:  https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/name/Cassia_fistula

personal interview with the people

Highlights of Cactus Fiesta Fair 4

National Cactus and Succulent Organization of the Philippines Inc. (NCSOPi)  in partnership with UN Square Mall, Manila Bulletin and Agriculture Magazine.

UN Square Mall facade

Tillandsia paintings

The bazaar, exhibit and lecture area were located at the 3rd level of UN Square Mall.

Dwende in a pot by Jennica Garcia Uytingco

There were over 40 plant table bourse sellers, selling cacti soil mix, pots, cacti, succulents, orchids, ornamental plants, hoyas,tillandsias, bromeliads, ornamental plants, fertilizers and among other stuffs.

collectible pins, keychains and button pins for sale

My Piece of Earth booth

Pick a Plant booth

There is a portion which serves as an exhibit area or display area for cacti and succulents.

interesting array of different genera of cacti and succulents on display

The short talk started past 11:00 am with Mr. Mark Buizon ( what is your soil mix), they are the ones behind Mastera. According to the speaker, They started as an organic farm and event manager before venturing into cacti and succulent propagators and business.

Mastera had a booth within the fair but their products are available for sale at Lazada, Shopee and delivery options like grab and lalamove.

Among their popular items includes, organic pesticide made from neem oil, vermicast, cabonated rice hull , pots, greenhouse UV plastics and other items.

Manila Bulletin and Agriculture Magazine booth

Another lecture was held past 1:00pm with Mr. Marlon Valdellon ( Cactus and Succulent for Beginners).

There were beautiful trophies and ribbons for the winners of the cacti, succulents and tillandsia competition

UN Square Mall is accessible to all modes of public transportation. The mall is near LRT Line 1 UN Avenue station and just beside Manila Police district.

Big Winners of Cactus Fiesta Fair Pop-up Tillandsia Competition

Pop-Up Pick a Plant which is a major partner at the Cactus Fiesta Fair 4 held at UN Square Mall along San Marcelino street corner United Nations Avenue, Ermita, Manila.

Pop-up pick a plant held a tillandsia competition from dozens of entries. The winners were announced on April 6, 2019 Saturday late afternoon.

Small Tillandsia
F4 T. loliacea

Bulbous Tillandsia
E2 T. seleriana

Rosette Tillandsia
D4 T. xerographica

Ionantha hybrid
B6 T. Rio Hondo x ionantha Guatemala

Rosette Hybrid
C3 T. Eric Knobloch x capitata Maroon

Best Species Winner
D4 Tillandsia xerographica

Best Hybrid Winner
G4 T. Joy

During the silent charity auction at Cactus Fiesta Fair 4 Pick a Plant Manila Pop-up enable to get Php 66,400 which will be given to charity beneficiary .

T. Eric Knobloch variegated form 39,000 peso
T. lotteae 8,500 peso
T. ionantha Crested 5,000 peso
T. Joel Superior 5,000 peso
T. A Rare Jewel 5,000 peso
T. Impostor 3,900 peso

Note: Information gathered thru the official FB page of Pick a Plant Manila Pop-Up

 

 

How to Start Terrarium Making Workshop by Cedarhills

Cedarhills garden centerCedarhills Garden Center

Terrarium is getting popular in many modern day homes, apartments, condominiums even offices and schools.  In this fast phase lifestyle people who do not have time taking care of house plants, terrariums work well for people with busy lives or those that struggle to keep plants alive due to lack of care.

dish garden and terrariumsdish garden and terrariums

Having a terrarium, vivarium landscape set-up is also becoming popular for those who who have small insects, reptiles and amphibians creating a mini-ecosystem. Hobbyists will incorporate landscaping into their breeding cycles. Plus of course, there is the obvious aesthetic benefit.

dish garden materialsdish garden with accesories

Materials Needed:

1.) Glass Vase , Goldfish bowl, Cookie jar, Pickle jar, Vase with a broad bottom, Brandy Snifter or Aquarium – These can be bought at Cedarhill Garden Center or stores which sells glass vases like EDSA Garden House along EDSA corner Times street.  ( one can choose from different types, shapes and size )

2.) Small Scooper- This are use to scoop potting media, pebbles into the vase.

carbonated rice hull

3.) Carbonated rice hull (CHR) is first layer of the vase. CRH neutralizes the odor and absorbs excess water. It also allows air retantion, that is needed by the plant’s roots.

4.) Dibber- a wooden tool used to flatten the surface of your media- One can improvise by using any kind of wood.

5.) Tissue paper- used to dry the inner surface of your vase after spraying the media with water.

6.) Pinatubo Pumice – They act as your terrarium water drainage. They also aid in air retention because plant roots needed the oxygen to convert nutrients into plant food.

7.) Klassman Peat Moss- This type of medium is PH neutral, making it the safest media to use for your terrarium plants. It is also not as compact as compared to ordinary garden soils, which allows your vase to look more polished.

8.) Cacti and Succulents- When choosing plants, remember to consider water and sunlight requirements to make sure that all your plants have the same maintenance requirements.

9.) Accessories- driftwood, jarlets, smooth white stones, figurines- These are needed as additional accent in your terrariums / vivariums ( they add color and animation to the overall landscape) They can be bought in garden center, toy shops or Japanese thrift stores.

10.) Stirrer- Use to clear out, smoothen or position the driftwood, jarlet, smooth white stone and the plants in a precise position.

11.) Assorted stones and pebbles ( one can buy them at any garden center or pebble stores) They can be bought per pack or per sack.

12.) Sprayer- Sprayer is used to water the terrarium gently between three times to four times a week – or depending on the exposure to sunlight.

a richly decorated terrarium

Workshop

Kuya Gerry

We were greeted by Kuya Gerry, he is our mentor for the terrarium and dish garden workshop, The workshop started at around past 10:00 am, some of the participants are first timers and have some knowledge in cacti and succulent. A short introduction and briefing, We introduce each other and a little background on our hobbies and interests.

animal figurines

The group was given a short briefing on the materials needed and on how to make our own terrarium. a short audio video presentation. It took us between 30 to 45 minutes just to complete the set-up.

participants1participants

We enjoyed the terrarium and dish garden workshop, We learned a lot. There were a mini contest among the participants. The next workshop will be held next week April 13, 2019 Saturday from 9:30am to 12:00 noon. Do not miss this opportunity.

terrariumsterrariums

terrarium set-up at the recent flora filipina 2019 expo

terrarium and dish garden workshop

Cedarhills Garden Center

Cedarhills Garden Center is one stop shop located in 57 Mother Ignacia Street, Diliman, Quezon City . It is just beside Saint Mary’s College and near ABS-CBN channel 2.

Operations: Mondays to Saturdays -9:30am to 6:30 pm

Sunday -CLOSE

Landline : 926-2707

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/cedarhillsgardencenter/

 

Cactus Fiesta Fair 4 in UN Square Mall

Cactus Fiesta Fair 4 was organize by National Cactus and Succulent Organization of the Philippines Inc. (NCSOPi)  in partnership with UN Square Mall, Manila Bulletin and Agriculture Magazine. The exhibit will be held from April 5 to 7, 2019.

Schedule of Activities

schedule-of-activities

The opening will be held on April 5, 2019 with a simple ribbon cutting ceremonies at past 9:00 am and there will be talks, lectures, raffles, table top competition, live plant auction and sale from some of the exhibits.

pick-a-plant

In line with this event, Pick a Plant ( one of Singapore’s largest plant retailers and seller of Tillandsia) will be having their booth at the exhibit. For those who will buy plant at their booth there is a chance of getting free tillandsia.

cactus-and-succulent-table-top-competition

table top competition guidelines

Table top competition set aside two major categories: Cactus and Succulent. The winners of the competition will get cash prizes, ribbon and trophy. acceptance of  entries will be from April 5 at 9:00am to April 6 – 12:00 nn.

pot-in-a-pot-challenge

pot in a pot challenge

Another exciting competition which is open to the general public is the pot in a pot challenge in which dish garden from size 8 to 10 inches in diameter will be accepted.  The organization had an active FB page with more than 100,000 members, making this one of the largest plant group in the country.

Contact Persons: Mr.Ronald Panelo or Mr. Karl Calica ( +63 995 937 1001) via FB  Email : secretariat.ncsopi@gmail.com.

Please mark your calendar and unlike other plant shows, This does not have any entrance fees !

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: