Turtle-dragons and hairy grass

After discovering that the house helpers had been replacing some of my herbs with ornamental plants that I don’t know where they get from, and after telling them never to do that ever again (okay, I was fuming mad), I decided to inspect the garden from end to end. I might as well. I was waiting for a pot of meat to boil, I couldn’t focus on my book because it was too hot and humid, so I stepped out into the garden. I hadn’t been there more than five minutes when I felt that something was missing. My camera. Pretty soon, it wasn’t just my cameras that I had out there with me. I took the tripod out too.

So, there I was, lamenting the heat inside the house and finding how much worse it was outside. But with the cameras and the tripod, the perspiration running down my back was soon forgotten. I even got a chair to stand on to get the perfect angle and to peer closer into the camera’s eye piece.

The funny thing is, after inspecting the plants to make sure that nothing else was amiss, and after looking oh, so closely at the plants, I had more questions than answers. For instance, did you know that blades of carabao grass have fine hairs along the edges?

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I am NOT kidding.

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What do they need them for? Every part of a plant has a purpose related to its survival so what are the hairs for?

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Next, why is it that when insects bore into leaves, the edges of the holes turn a different color than the rest of the leaf? It’s almost as though the edges dry up. But why should they?

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Or, perhaps, the chlorophyll balance is upset. But why? Do insects emit some substance that results in chlorophyll loss?

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This white powdery substance on the leaves of the milflores (hydrangea) is something I’ve seen before on my basil and I’m always ever so careful to wash the leaves before throwing them into the pot just in case the powdery substance is toxic. But what is it? Fungus or insect eggs?

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Ants. Every garden has them. And I know they have a penchant for sweet things. That’s why I’m careful to wipe off sugar spills in the kitchen. Otherwise, ants come swarming in. But do ants sip nectar from flowers too? I thought only winged insects did that. I thought that the presence of ants in plants and trees has more to do with ripe or ripening fruits which they attack with gusto. But jasmine does not bear fruits, only flowers. So what the heck were black ants crawling all over the jasmine for?

After photographing the white powdery substance on the leaves of the milflores, I started inspecting the plants for buds. We have six milfores plants, planted in two huge pots and there have been no flowers for a couple of months now. They used to be such prolific bloomers (see here, here, here and here) but, lately, they’ve been lazy. So I peered between the leaves and thought I saw a bud.

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But it wasn’t a bud. It looked like a miniature turtle at first glance.

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Up close, it was something between a moth and a dragon — but small. Tiny. No longer than an inch from tip to tip. I’m sure it won’t bloom into a bouquet of flowers tomorrow or any day after that. But I am wondering if it had been eating away the buds which should explain the lack of flowers. Was there only one of this turtle-dragon (until I find out its proper name, I’m calling it a turtle-dragon)? I don’t know. I was too chicken to inspect the other parts of the milflores. I was lucky enough to be able to take photos with the lens within an inch of the thing without it flying and nipping my hand.