Monday, June 30, 2008

I Was The Wind

I was the wind last night.

I vaulted the river and swam seven mountains,

And turned aside the tall trees guarding the valley.

I caught glimpses of you through the tiny window

as I wandered around the house.

They wouldn't let me in----- too cold a wind!

I hung about listlessly, afraid to call too loud;

Then like a weary man limped homewards over the mountains.

When will I learn the value of stillness?

--- Ruskin Bond

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Breathin' Berries!

How long is ephemeral? For the mayfly it's just a day but
for my ripening berries, it's a month! But what an active
month! The birds and i have been breathing berries, in
totally different ways. I've been taking photos, eating,
sending little packets of the fruit to different house-
holds in the neighbourhood (Greetings of the season!),
making fresh purple juice, and watching the birds!

They've been gorging, on the ripest, the juiciest fruit!
I cannot imagine how still and how dead my yard would
be without the twittering and chirping of my feathered
visitors! Now that the berries are almost finished,
i'll have to keep track of bird visits. Does it dwindle
or remain constant? I'll find out--- later.

I spoke to my mother who lives 365 kms away. Through the
crackle of static her voice trailed off, then it came again.

My mother: I'm sorry i couldn't send you red ants for your
berry tree. It was raining so hard that i couldn't
go down to the garden. ( It's on a hill).

Me: That's ok. I think my tree is fine without red ants.
The fruit is sweet enough.

Mm: But even then, the red ants will devour all the small
pests and keep your tree worm-free. It'll be good for
the tree!

M: All right.

When i was a child i clearly remember my mother talking
about the berry tree that had no red ants on them. She'd
gone right downhill, at the bottom of the garden to get
the ants so she could let them loose on the berry tree,
thus ensuring a pest-free tree whose fruit would remain
unspoilt and worm-free.

I'm glad i've documented the cycle of my tree for the blog. Since i
started the process-- weeds, buds, blooms, leaves, mulch, fungi and
moss have become larger than life! The tree being there has more
significance than ever before. For the past 30 days or so, the colour
purple dominated my western skyline as well as my life! But in its
rite of passage it feeds not only people and birds, but also pays tri-
bute to garden soil---the leaves have already started to fall. All the
leaves are gathered in a bin aand will be used in strengthening the
roots of this tree that has given so much in a short span of time!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Last Zinnias

" Happiness is the art of making a bouquet of those flowers within reach".

The last of my zinnias bid me a wistful goodbye. Almost threshed by
the wind and the rain, they're a paler version of their more vibrant
siblings, now long dead and gone. And 'long' is the span of a short
summer bloom time. I have truly enjoyed my zinnias, clicked them
from every angle, in all kinds of weather, at different times of the
day.I have used them to liven up the kitchen table, the corridor, the
living room. And they've brought smiles to friends' faces when gifted
by me. They've attracted a large number of butterflies and bees. And
uplifted the soul of my frontyard! Next summer, i'll have them again,
re-creating that same spirit of cheer and joy, in another season of
a riot of colours!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Rubber Plant

The rubber plant ( Ficus elastica) is a familiar sight in most
urban homes. It is most suitable for indoor cultivation but if
planted outside, it grows into a tall tree.
All ficuses love a humid atmosphere and moderate sunlight. They
grow best in rich soil with some sand in it. Although they can
be potted at any time of the year (in India), the monsoon is the
safest time.
Ficus elastica is a moraceous plant belonging to the Moraceae, a
mostly tropical and sub-tropical family of trees and shrubs, in-
cluding fig, mulberry, breadfruit, and hop, many of which have
latex in the stems and heads enclosed in a fleshy receptacle.
The one that i have is ficus elastica decora tricolour. As you
can see in the photo, the leaves are green and cream whereas the
new leaves are sheathed in pink. They look most attractive during
this season.
Recently, I transplanted one and also trimmed a branch or two. I
didn't realise the latex would spoil my housecoat (early morning
gardening convenient wear) and also leave chewing-gummy goo on
my hands--i find gloves constrictive. Later i looked up a book
on Nature and this is what i got in a page titled "Toxic Deterrents".
If an animal bites into a rubber plant it gets an unpleasant sur-
prise. Instead of oozing sap, the tree produces latex-a milky fluid
that is packed with poisons, giving it a fiery taste. Like real milk,
latex contains billions of microscopic droplets that are suspended
in a runny flluid. When latex is exposed to the air, the fluid part
evaporates, but the droplets stay behind, creating sticky blobs
that clog up an animal's mouth-parts, feathers, and fur.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Red Hibiscus

In my earlier post about the pink and yellow hibiscus
that i grow, i had mentioned the red variety but did
not include a photo. Yesterday, when the sun finally
peeked through the clouds, i went around the frontyard,
camera in hand, and these are the results.
The red hibiscus has a layered petal with curled edges.
The stamen is short unlike the single-petalled variety;
long stamens are characteristic of single petals.
One bloom had fallen on the ground and i put it in a
bowl of water. There's something so welcoming about
fresh flowers, whether in a vase or in a water-filled
container. Needless to say i spent much time admiring
the bloom in the midst of cooking dinner, watching TV
and feeding the dogs!

Friday, June 20, 2008


Still, the perversity of snails!
They squander labour in the leaves
And soon the thrushes find their trails
For on each lengthy inch of road
Slime follows them till death arrives.
From Speech in the Desert by Dom Moraes

Now that the rains are here, the snails are everywhere.
Yesterday I found one on the mossy ledge. How did it
climb up so high where there was no sign of food? Or
did it climb only to become food for the birds? The
sky was overcast and the afternoon was like dusk in
a hurry to be there before its time.
This morning there was no sign of the ledge snail.
Perhaps the rain lashed it away to the other side
of the wall or the road. Or perhaps it was trod on
by a foot that was trying to manoeuvre a murky, muddy,
slushy stretch of no-road. Or maybe a car crushed it
to smithereens, the shell--glasslike lying in little
bits that might catch the rays of the sun at first light.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I've Been TAGGED!

I've been TAGGED by Titania

These are the rules for tagging.

Link to the person who tagged you.

Post the rules on the blog.

Write six random things about yourself.

Tag six people at the end of your post.

Let each person know they have been tagged
by leaving a comment on their blog.

Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Here's six random things about myself.

The joy of my sister's (and her family's) life
has spread to mine. My nephew is four months old.

I love the poetry of Pablo Neruda.

I'm yet to achieve a lot of computer skills.

I'd love to own a hill one day and garden
every inch of it!

On stormy nights I love to sit outside and watch
lightning streak across the sky.

I wish I didn't put on weight so easily!

Don't feel you have to tag anyone in turn.

Here's the six persons I want to tag.

Pacha Mona

Daphne's Dandelions

Adventures in my Garden


Egypt Farm

Jogja Garden

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rain, rain, go away

Couldn't resist posting this picture of
my regular gardening tools. They're taking
a much-needed breather as the rain has made
it near impossible to work outside. All the
newspaper headlines scream, "CITY LIFE
PARALYSED!" accompanied by pictures of people
caught unaware by the sudden onslaught. Roads
turn into muddy rivers. Cars remain stranded.
Despite the water level being shallow, water,
where it shouldn't be, is dangerous. How do you
fathom how safe you are? There could be jagged
pieces of metal or shards of glass in the water.
A bit of rain is always wecome but this deluge....!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dumb Cane

It's interesting to know how plants derive their names.
The dumb cane is grown for its showy foliage and is
popular in tropical gardens. But in its natural habi-
tat it lives on the forest floor of Central and South
America, where it is open to attack. For protection,
its leaves and stem are filled with razor- sharp
crystals of fast-acting poison.
If an animal tries to eat the leaves, the crystals
pierce the creature's mouth and the poison starts
to work. It inflames the inside of the mouth and
tongue, so that the animal finds it difficult to
People, too, make the mistake of sampling the dumb
cane's leaves. The victim may be unable to speak
for several hours, hence the plant's name.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Reptilian Ramblings

As a child I was petrified of snakes and other creepy-crawlies.
Over the years (seems like a century now), I have overcome them
to a great extent. No doubt it has to do with age. And gardening.
Gardening keeps all your senses alive and encountering creatures
that would otherwise be in the 'ugh' category, changes one's
attitude towards them.
Little snakes almost jump out of their skins when I remove piles
of leaves and grass clippings. They scuttle off sideways and this
movement isn't what you'd associate with a snake! The glide and
the sinuous slither comes with maturity!

A week ago, I opened the front door to let a guest in and what did
I see? A snake, poised, in the middle of the room! But after several
incidents of such sightings(?) I calmly told the guest to sit in the
veranda while I took off to get a bamboo pole. The snake went
hoppity-skippity under a table. When I returned with the pole it went
under the sofa but I managed to gently ease it out of the room with
the bamboo. I think it was one of those harmless aquatic snakes and
it wasn't fully grown. Had it been two weeks later, I'm sure I'd have
said, "There's a SNAKE in the room!' Coming back to my guest, he
told me that he was terrified of snakes! I just hoped later that
the snake would not scare my neighbour. She recently had her
garden fumigated with dried chillies after she saw a cobra near
the steps leading to the first floor of her house. Crushed garlic
is what we normally use in these parts to drive venomous
snakes away!

When my children were very young, a cobra glided up the steps at
the end of the corridor. I was at the kitchen door, about three
feet away.Instinct made me tap on the floor with my foot three
times. The intimidating reptile simply turned and went away.
Since then the belief that snakes do not harm unless they feel
threatened, has been reinforced. Also I feel that becoming a
mother, in order to allay the fears of our children, we fight
and overcome fears of our own!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pretty in pink!

My anthuriums are blooming in spathes of pink. So far, this is
the only variety I have. They're so easy to look after needing
very little care. Snipped off some of the dead leaves and weeded
out unwanted plants from the pots. Now they're good enough to be
on display!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A thank you note

to Blogger---
for the new and improved blog list. It's wonderful.
Not only is it easy, but recent updates being in-
cluded is, well-- what more can a blogger ask for?
Thank you.

to flickr
for the beautiful slideshow. The flowers are amazing!
Sometimes, instead of uploading or typing, I simply
sit and watch----the loveliest images, the prettiest
colours u-n-f-o-l-d-i-n-g.......

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


It's bloom time for this tree which is known for its
striking beauty and the shade it provides. The city
skyline is now dotted with the red of 'gol mohur' and
the gold of laburnums. Googling around, I found out
that this species is known by several other names:
Flamboyant, Peacock flower, Flame of the Forest,
Royal Poinciana and Fire Tree. In the north eastern
part of India, it is called 'krishnachura'.
It is said to be a native of Madagascar but it is
also grown in many parts of the world where it's
warm and sunny.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Papaya and chillies

And talking about papayas, my neighbour
sent these across. A handful of potent
chillies and a sweet, ripe papaya. This
fruit is one of the last ones from her
tree that had gone berserk, bearing maybe
a hundred papayas. And this is not the
first nor the second time she's gifted me.
I've planted the seeds and I hope that my
trees will be as fertile as hers!

Droplets of rain

How much water can the soil take in,
drunk as it is on last week's inter-
mittent rain? Walked around my front
yard this morning (squelch, squelch)
on rain-sodden earth. The clouds gave
no hint that the sun might peek through,
later. No drops of water remained on
sheath-like leaves but they looked more
vibrant. But the broader ones, like my
papaya leaves, were still dripping drop-
lets of rain......

Saturday, June 7, 2008


For years i'd been bitten by want-her-lust. The
objects of my desire have been plants from dif-
ferent regions, mainly from cooler climes, and
nurturing them was an exercise in futility.
But i didn't find that out straightaway. My
tenacity clung to me for years, "maybe this
time" was a refrain that constantly hummed in
my (pea) brain. Sometimes the cravings were
as bad as all the Seven Deadly Sins clubbed
Holidaying in the Himalayan foothills almost
every year, i'd fall in love with begonias all
over again. I've brought them by rail, road
and air hoping to grow them in all colours.
But once they landed on Torrid Zone they'd
wilt. Nothing could rejuvenate them again;
neither the right amount of water nor shade.
Nothing would evoke any positive response.
And yet i didn't give up hope.
Somewhere along the way realisation dawned!
There was no earth-shattering event which
worked as a catalyst,(not that i can tell).
Maybe Mother Nature made me come to my
And yes, next time we head for the mountains,
and if i see the Queen Mother of all begonias,
in full regalia, nary a notion of bringing her
back with me will deign to enter my cleared head!
I shall only gawk and i shall only stare. And
i shall turn on my heel and walk away...tra la
In order to mark the revelation of sense and
sensibility, i went and bought a begonia plant
from a nursery less than a kilometre away. Not
again, one might think, but i've purged myself
of this craving and what could be better than to
get a begonia that's acclimatised down to its last
gene! I'd seen these plants earlier at the nursery,
seemingly oblivious to the heat but i'd wanted more
than just pink clusters for flowers!
Coming back to my plant-- she's doing fine and
she seems happy. Weather conditions? Conducive!
She's Guwahati-weather-friendly which is why i
bought her. And soon,i hope, she'll be ready to
increase and multiply!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Of Stones and Shapes

I love collecting stones. Not the precious
variety but the ones found on the banks of
rivers and streams. I have them in all
shapes: round pebbles in bowls and wine
glasses, and all the other shapes in little
heaps around my potted plants. In them (i
imagine) i hear the gurgle of streams and
the roar of rivers... the rush of the same
river which lulled me, my siblings and cou-
sins to sleep when we spent school holidays
with our grandparents.
For us, during the day, the river was so
tempting! We needed to test our agility on
the stepping stones. We honed our skills at
playing ducks and drakes. The gravelly bank
was our Keela Wee and we built sand-castles
with coarse and shingly sand. Any river that
i go to, bring these images back and i end up
collecting unusual shapes in stones.
A few years back, we were at the river Diyung,
the much-loved-picnic-spot near the town of
Haflong. This time i thought i'd go looking
for a heart-shaped stone. I left the group
to discover little surprises that the jungle
offers. I went upstream and downstream but
only got some driftwood of no awe-inspiring
By this time , the children had worked up an
appetite and were calling out to me. It was
then that i saw it. Not far from where i was
standing-- the size of a fist, it definitely
looked heart-shaped! I thought i'd pop it into
the van but the children called again and my
husband would've thrown a fit as he's wont to
do everytime i indulge in such "trivial pursuits".
With the thought of my find, the rest of the day
was more enjoyable.
When it was time to head homeward, i went to the
spot to pick it up. It was not there! Puzzled, i
kept looking but there was no sign of the prized
stone. Had my liking for stones come to such a
fetish that i had begun to imagine shapes? Or
did the river fairies decide to create an illusion
because they wanted to put an end to this obssession?
I can't say. But gradually it did come down. I still
pick up a few, every time i go to rivers, but it is
no longer a frantic hunt for any particular shape.
But once in a while, i think of that day at the river
and i see it again. Rough-hewned by the vagaries of
nature, the size of a man's fist, the shape my heart
was after. I had wondered then, about how long it
had lain there, trampled upon by solitary man and
collective beasts; submerged in summer, exposed in
winter; drenched by the rain, the sun, the moon,
the stars.....!

Luscious litchis!

Guwahati summer scene

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The blessings of June

This morning when i went out to hang the washing
i noticed the first of the berries that had be-
gun to ripen. No wonder the birds have been a
a little louder and busier this week. It had
rained at night so the temperature had come
down. The freshness that only the rain can
bring somehow seemed suspended in space and
time. I quickly finished my chore and clicked
at the berry tree. But when i was at it, i saw
a creeper, again with the first blooms of the
year! I'm so glad i created my place in blogo-
sphere. Otherwise i wouldn't have written about
the things i do or photographed every little
bloom/fruit/foliage that caught my eye! Every
plant, no matter big or small must be acknow-
ledged. After all, they make our plots and our
neighbourhood, a better place to live in.
Later, on the way to my children's school, I
saw gossamer mist float on the tops of the
range of low hills. In June. The sky was still
cloudy, heavy with the promise of more rain. On
my way back, i bought some litchis, another fruit
of the season. The vendor swore they were the
sweetest ones this side of the Brahmaputra!
All these years i'd never written about these
little things which made the heat bearable. Now
i know and i shall write, that in June------
You can still wake up to misty morns.
The hills are ablaze with yellows and reds.
No matter how hot it gets, the drizzle will take
care of your thirsty plants.
That the creeper trailing along the wall will
be draped in colour.
In one corner, fragrant flowers will bloom and
as you walk through the gate,the aroma will
gently waft into your being.
Birds, bees and butterflies will fly and set your
heart a-flutter and you'll be glad to be alive
and well.
Oh, the blessings of June!

Monday, June 2, 2008

More Wild East pictures

Heliconia rostrata

Wild flowers

Another variety--tall and stately.

Yellow bamboo

From a distance, this bamboo looked yellow
but a closer inspection revealed green
lines on them. Striking!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My friend Chandana with her son, Sahil,
at the resort.

Wild East

Spent the day with friends and some of my
son's classmates at a resort called Wild East.
For a garden blogger who'd wanted to post about
something on the lines of 'In June, what's in -
bloom?', the day turned out to be perfect. First
of all, the place was on a hilltop. The road was
a dirt track with a steep incline. And the plants!
Everything that a tropical jungle would have. Well,
almost! I went with Chandana around the property
looking for vantage points (the view was lovely)
and, closer to my heart, plants as subjects for
the camera.
George Bordoloi, the owner has put in a lot of
hard work to achieve the look. It's aptly named.
It's also a haven for butterflies, bees and drag-