Woke up this morning to see water, water everywhere. Thankfully, the sun shone, so the drying up did not take all that long. The temperature hasn't come down; max 34 degrees Celsius with 75% relative humidity (groan!). Despite the slush, there's some- thing to keep the spirits soaring--the flowering trees of summer. The hill on the opposite side of our house is dotted with red and yellow blooms. Throughout autumn and winter it isn't worth a second glance. Come May , and the first signs of resurrec- tion cannot be missed. This photo is one that I took this morning but not from the hill I mentioned.This was taken at Zoo-Narengi Road. Laburnum.: Wouldn't anyone LOVE this yellow?
Even in small spaces like mine,the front-yard has its surprises. Yes- terday, while I was trying to pho- tograph a beautiful blue butterfly, (mission unaccomplished, the pretty thing was NEVER still), I noticed this periwinkle blooming behind the mango tree. I haven't been paying much attention to this area because I was hard at work: re-potting, re- arranging and trimming my potted plants. But seeing the bloom really made a difference to my day!
It's interesting to know about how plants derive their names from peo- ple: the dahlia is named in honour of Andreas Dahl, an 18th century Swedish botanist. The loganberry after Judge James Logan, an Ame- rican horticulturist who bred it in the late 19th century, and the greengage after Sir William Gage, an English botanist who brought the fruit into England from France. Plants are often named after the shape of their leaves or flowers. A dandelion, from the French dent- de-lion, which means "a lion's tooth". Other plants named after their shape include, from the Greek, aspidistra (shield), delphinium (dolphin), and hepatica (liver). From Latin we have aster (star), gladiolus (small sword) palm ( the palm of the hand). Got these facts from an old clipping I'd taken from a magazine ages ago. Fellow Blotanists might enjoy reading this.
While taking a picture of the day lilies, I saw this pretty blossom under the hi- biscus shrub. As a child, I remember my mother telling me that these plants grow in moist soil. And we had these only in one part of the garden but here they seem to spring up everywhere. One can imagine what quality of soil my plot has. In my region, the north-eastern part of India, this herb grows wild. The smell is pungent but when steamed, the smell gets milder. In my mother tongue it is called "rats' ears". Although it is a common plant, there's some- thing special about coming across the first blossom of the year. It looked as if it was trying to get a better view of blue infinity and saying, 'Isn't life beautiful?'
'But a weed is simply a plant that wants to grow where people want something else. In blaming nature, people mistake the cul- prit. Weeds are people's idea, not nature's.' Author unknown
Started the day with some weeding and got some of these in my potted plants. These are edible and called 'parrot's tongue' in my mother tongue. Apt description, for the leaves are no bigger than a bird's tongue. The idea of taking a picture and posting it later is a thought that stays somewhere in the recesses of my mind. Later scoured the net for an appropriate quote but did not want to include anything that sounded unkind. After all, these were 'weeds' only because they happ- ened to be where only the ornamental should have been.
Created this little isle of stones, shells and grass at the back. Grass look pretty when they have white lines on them. The smooth river stones happen to be my favourite garden feature and I collect them whenever I get a chance. The starfish was bought at a beach in Chennai and the snail shells were once (not very long ago), pests in my garden. I hope snaily souls are at peace and will forgive me for nipping them in the bud and in bloom. The mint-like plant in the middle is in fine fettle now that it's its season. But I'm bad with names so not much of a help here.
A Dimasa basket I use for dried bay leaves. The quantity of the leaves has greatly diminished. Sometimes I wonder, do we really relish them so or is it out of seeing our mothers, aunts and myriad cousins use them that we tend to not ignore them when we cook?! Without these leaves, would the dish taste insipid,lack zing? I really don't know. A voice at the back of my cranium tells me that the basket needs to be replenished..... Anyway, I have placed artificial flowers in the basket. These were bought at the Thai pavilion at the annual Trade Fair held held in our city.
Not a very aesthetic-looking arrangement but fresh zinnia cuttings from my small flower-patch adds a splash of colour to the corridor. I have never used this plan- ter for what it was intended ; it's got drainage holes at the bottom. I've always placed a glass or a jar in the planter to display blooms or foliage. Even though I'm from Bamboo country, it isn't always that you get to buy something as sturdy and as spacious(?) as this!
I have three hibiscus plants but the third one is not included in this post. It's dark red and is a regular in many gardens around these parts. The pink ones flower in profu- sion and they do so for almost the entire year. But the yellow one isn't as prolific. I sim- ply love the colour. The tinge of red in the middle makes it all the more beautiful.
Spent some time chasing butterflies in the garden. The small white ones, the yellow ones and the splotched and mot- tled ones were busy flitting and hover- ing about the hibiscus flowers but were never still ( wasn't the nectar sweet enough?). Finally came across this one on a guava leaf, seemingly oblivious to my movements in trying to get her best angle.
A luminous mutter of wasps Through dry fern, the sun afloat In the blue bird-sea above A barbed wire fence, wisps Of white on the barbs, as though They had once snagged a cloud And the burnt trees rubbing Their arms together in whispers.
I have entered this moment. It prolongs itself slowly. I stand inside silence. Now I become.
The luminous mutter of Wasps at their taxed work Echoes inside my hand. The fragments of cloud on the fence Tatter away in sudden wind.
These have moved one space away, Becoming absence. I am freckled with leaves. The river slaps at My limbs which it has refracted, Tepidly gentle Into deformities.
On hot drowsy afternoons, when no souls stir, birds come and spend some time near the blackberry tree. I was Stealth pers- sonified when I zoomed in on this bird. The berries haven't ripened but I guess the thought of an unending supply ( from bird view-point) provides succour for flights that might have been, otherwise, fruitless!
It's the season of the 'bael' now. Bael ( Aegle marmelos) is native to India. The fruit resembles the wood apple; it's green when raw but when it ripens, the colour changes to yellow and then, brown. It has many medicinal properties. The flesh of the fruit is yellow, with several seeds. It's sweet and aromatic and has a refreshing taste. It's one summer drink that I make very often.
Years ago I saw pictures in a gardening book about how using string and stakes would be beneficial in small gardens. At that time we were living in a house with a biggish garden and the thought of such innovation was, beyond me. But look at me now. Good old string coming to the rescue! Never mind that it looks as if it isn't going to last. Looks can be deceptive, remember? Traditionally, this variety of broad bean is sown in late July, in the north-eastern part of the country. But one stray seed must've got deeply embedded in the soil. In the process of repotting or loosening ( I really can't say ), the seed must've sighed with relief and got down to germinating. Sprouting leaves, stem, and now, tendrils going every which way- where would I be without the help of sturdy string? Beans on the table, that too, home-grown. At the end of the year when I look back, I'll surely be able to say, 'It's bean a good year!'
My brother laughed when I told him that my mango tree was stricken with 'mangos- teoporosis'. The result is that it is a drastically reduced version of its former self and the anthithesis of the image that one has of a mango tree: thick, gloriously green foliage with innumerable branches, home to myriad birds and small animals, and a shady ground below. Two years ago, when the March wind blew fast and furious, a branch bearing about twenty-five tender mangoes unceremonious- ly snapped and fell down. I did go through the 'why-my-mango-tree' phase which took some time to pass. But as if that wasn't enough, last year, right after the flower- ing season, the wind wreaked havoc again. This time it was another big branch. I sup- pose that something must be lacking in its innards that every time the wind blows hard it has to break like a brittle bone! The betel nut tree, its immediate neighbour, sways dangerously during a storm but as soon as the wind fades to a whisper, it stands unscathed--proud and tall again. My mango tree will take some more years to recover from the brunt and also to lend more credibility to its name. A crow family had religiously nested on its higher reaches year after year. But now no bird worth its glossy feather will deign to build its Home Tweet Home. At least not for a while.......
While on to pumpkins, I committed the cardinal sin of not taking a picture of this home-grown one before I cut it into half. I suppose growing vegetables in the confines of small spaces brings out an exaggerated sense of achievement. Which is why the picture part completely slipped out of my mind. Posting the one taken later, halved. The effect,Halloweeny.
There's something wonderful about waking up to a vegetable bloom like this pumpkin flower on my bamboo grove. It definitely puts the zing into my morning. By tomorrow, or by noon, it will have wilted, leaving no trace of having once been connected with any- thing floral. It'll be reduced to either a blob or mass, depending on the weather before it gently lands on the ground. But no matter how short-lived, vegetable blooms fill me with joy. Other flowers burst into song and fade away but vegetable blooms signify fecundity and the promise of a future!
When we moved to our new home a decade ago, we planted bamboo all along the boundary wall. Living up to its reputation of being the fastest growing plant, they shot up and then the laws of the forest took over. Wood- land wonders appeared in our backyard..... Itsy-bitsy spiders wove miniscule webs; myriad ants made little mounds near the roots and went about the serious business of crawling! Black and yellow wasps bore precision round holes on the stems and went into hibernation! Dry leaves fell, rotted, and turned to soil food. Then in the midst of the dense green, the doves came to nest. And they kept coming year after year. The moorhens came too, making a nest where the foliage was the thickest. This made me feel like the ( earth ) mother of all that I survey.
But if birds come, would snakes be far behind? I saw one gliding about the grove, rather majes- tically. On any sunny day, lizards ( the ones with a tinge of red on the back ) bask, loath to move. And we thought that the bamboo would be just a hedge! I still marvel at what we got in exchange!
The computer crashed recently and some of my earlier garden pictures are gone forever. Some garden scenes can never be re-created, I feel. The bigger plants do not look much different despite the seasons; it's either the flowers or the fruit, or simply green leaves...But sea- sonal flowers bring about that big diff- rence particularly in my little space. Usually, I don't grow the same flowers every year, or maybe not in the same spot. Which is why the sense of loss is deeper. Looking at one of the pictures, I had marvelled at the utter lack of symmetry. Taken from an angle that included the steps leading to the house, the tiny rockery, nasturtiums in a blaze of yellow and orange, ferns, palm and bougain- villiea, another yellow patch here--- the picture had an 'untamed' look about it. Wild beauty that I must create again this winter!
My zinnias were growing tall and spindly so I trimmed some stems today. I know, I know, I should've done that much earlier. Anyway, I put some of the blooms in a bowl of water and placed the bowl on the kitchen table. They sure look pretty!
There's a wall that stands between me and my eastside niighbour. It isn't high enough to be unscalable but because of it we haven't really visited each other. The entrance to their lane is way out and both of us have not made a conscientious effort to step into each other's homes. It's so much easier to talk across the fence. And starting with family, the house and the garden, we must've discussed everything under the sun! The lady might be watering her plants and I might be pottering about the garden but we stop to take a moment and sometimes more to catch up! It's been over two years now of keeping up the relationship. On festive occasions, we exchange home-cooked goodies and garden produce is what we gift each other. From my side it's blackberries and mangoes in summer, tomatoes in winter. Depending on the time of the year, it's bananas and sweet, ripe papayas from her. Sometimes it's a bunch of freshly unearthed dark green coriander with little clods of soil still stuck on the roots. Oh, to get the smell of fresh herbs ( haven't I practically grown up with that?)one can't wait to garnish the lunch-time fare that's already on the table. Bless her! Like I said, there's a wall that separates our respective plots. But when it comes to being neighbourly, there isn't any barrier between us..........
Glory be to God for dappled things- For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim. All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him. Gerard Manley Hopkins
The first flowering shrub I planted on our land
Every flower is a soul blooming in Nature.-Gerard De Nerval
Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself? -Henry David Thoreau