Thursday, July 31, 2008

For the Pun of it!

The Grapes of Rot!
I had gone to a nursery to get a mussanda plant. The nurseryman
was dealing with other customers who were there before me so I
looked around and saw this. The climate in our region is not
conducive to growing grapes and yet plant-lovers go ahead braving
pests and the produce--sour grapes! These turn purple when ripe
but even then the taste that it leaves in the mouth is sweet-

For Some Plants, the Stakes are High!
I noticed this plant sprouting at a place where the soil leaves
much to be desired but I staked some dead branches anyway. Manure
should do the needful, to some extent!

The Down(side) of Decorating
An empty nest and its surroundings yielded this find.
The softest, lightest feathers, lighter than a whisper!

Rooting For a New Pot!
Looks yucky but was the best
I could find to match the
description. An old tin, an
ancient ficus, bursting at
the seams(?)--crying out for
a new home!

Hello, lizard, how have you bean lately?
The lizard seems to know me well by now. She seems to be
happy being photographed pretty often.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The World's Hottest Chilli!

Two hot varieties; the one on the right is the world's hottest!

The "Bhut Jolokia" ( bhut means ghost and jolokia means chilli)
was given a rating of 855,000 Scoville heat units by officials
at the Defence research and Development Establishment, Gwalior.
They reported their findings in an August 2000 issue of "Current
Science". The scientists tested a Tezpur (a town in Assam) variety
of the bhut, or "Capsicum frutescens var. Nagahari as it is known
to botanists. Some bhut specimens have since scored over a million
units in tests done in other labs, like the New Mexico State Uni-
versity's chilli Pepper Institute in the US. The Guinness Book of
World Records recently certified the bhut jolokia as the world's
hottest chilli pepper.
The bhut is between 35 and 50mm long. It looks similar to the
habanero, but the skin is more dented. In the north-east, besides
being used as a spice, the bhut is smeared on fences to scare off
wild elephants.

( Facts taken from the Indian Reader's Digest, April 2008)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, son!

The last photo should've been first! My younger son Nishant,
turned 14 today! We were at Greenwood, a beautifully kept
property in the outskirts of the city. Nishant and his friends
played football, cricket and went boating. The skies did not
let them down!

The place is very well-maintained and the plant collection, extensive!
These are some of the plants in Greenwood. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday! Fourteen. Wow!

That's him, on the left. Loves music, plays the drums and the guitar.
Also LOVES to eat!!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Romancing the Rain.........

We've had so much rain this month that I thought I'd
remain unmoved by it. It'd been drizzling during the
day, raining at night, all along, but today, there was
a lull from the skies; everything looked and smelled
Sunshine and the activity around the house was sun-
related. Shoes were sunned, pillows were out, clothes
too, just to get rid of that musty, mildewy smell
which hangs like an invisible cloak in closets, rooms;
so much a monsoon thing. With no long hours of sun to
turn to, the mustiness makes itself at home and out-
stays its welcome(?)!
In the evening, the skies turned a vivid shade of
blue, in patches, thunderclouds loomed large, then
a brief storm violently shook the trees but before I
could say--I'd better close that door--it'd passed.
To be followed by rain, pitter-patter for a few
minutes, then, a full-fledged shower! With the wind
and the rain, for one transitory moment, I had the
feeling of being on a hill with the wind against me
and orange clouds racing above! But the earth,
deprived of rain for only one whole day, was parched
and dry, and oh-so-thirsty! It drank up rapidly and
the smell of raw earth, the essence of life, wafted
all around...
I sat with my cuppa out in the veranda, drinking more
of the sight, the smell and the sound of rain than
the tea from my cup! The earth, denied rain for only
one sun-drenched day could no longer wait to be
quenched by rain again!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Saga of the Bamboo...

...continues... in these handicrafts skilfully created by
artisans/simple village folks, in obscure hamlets, beyond
the blue hills, across the vast green plains of my fertile
land--beside gurgling streams and seemingly placid rivers.
Sold for a song to middlemen in the nearest town, and later
sold in ritzy emporiums and wayside stalls, next to fabled
silk and expensive figurines. Or maybe with trinkets and
gaudy statuettes adjacent to a tea-stall with a blackened,
dented kettle on a smouldering fire and stale buns on sale.
In a land of contrasts, anything is plausible.
And as I write this, a craftsman could be working outside
his house, under the mango tree, cutting bamboo thin and
fine after a back-breaking day in the paddy-fields----
battling the mosquitoes that breed in our malarial rainforests.
But we have bamboo in our souls. I look at a basket and see
beyond that! I hear the distinct sound of a sharp knife
slicing through a fresh green stem, the raw smell evocative
of an unending green of a tropical jungle...the aroma of the
dish made of bamboo shoot garnished with herbs freshly picked
from a garden as fertile as a forest.
Bamboo-- so many images come; green, yellow, shoots, dense
groves, bees, birds,snakes, stakes, huts, fences, benches,
archways, bridges... it's a melange of images turning into
a slide-show in the recesses of my mind!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Living it up in the Bamboo Grove!

Peacefully resting on the best green leaf...

at times there's only the hushed silence of droplets of
rain caught in the rays of an early morning sun!

Life wriggles on....time to explore the big green space!

For some it's a balancing act as they juggle between choices---
this insect or that!!

Sneak a peek between eats...

while I merrily dangle on a leaf!

...before I fly off again...

Life's on a roll!

All this lushness eggs me on----
to increase and multiply!

Let me enjoy the view before I flit off again to
gorge on mosquito larvae!

All's well in the bamboo world!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Garden Lizard

Lizard on a lemon tree

I really can't go on posing like this any longer!! Let me get
back to my moment in the afternoon sun-- there isn't much left
anyway. Why don't you go back to chasing dragonflies, you mad
woman with the camera? This is ridiculous!!!

Backyard update

Fungi on dead wood.

No space to build a proper trellis for my pumpkin plant
so I let it follow the bamboo trail!

Caterpillar on the bean vine.

Backyard green island I created for plants that I can give away.
Most of these are fast-growing and I already have several in
containers. In order to house the surplus I've used a large
plastic bag, punched little holes in it, then put in waste
from sugar-cane, coconut husks and mulch from all the leaves
and grass trimmings. There's just a bit of soil here, a mix-
ture of sand and good garden soil bought from a nursery. It's
like trying out a recipe. A bit of this and a bit of the other
and my plants aren't complaining!

Grow, bean, grow!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Bamboo Abode

Noticed this bee at work on a dead bamboo around noon.

Still at it!

Hold on, honey! Only the finishing touch is left!

There! Home Sweet Home!

Yesterday, when the backyard was cleaned, a dead bamboo
came off easily. I noticed that it had a hole and I did
wonder whether I'd deprived a wasp or a bee of its home.
Sure enough, I saw this bee hard at work drilling its new
abode today. I'm glad I have the photos but regret not
keeping track of the time that it took to complete it.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Sunita of The Urban Gardener
has tagged me. I was tagged recently by titania (Trudi)of Yesterday
Today and Tomorrow in my Garden so I won't be playing the game now.
But I'm glad that Sunita thought about me. It's a compliment to be
remembered. Thanks Sunita.
I was very happy to see Sunita on Blotanical recently. We're both
from India (even though we are at the opposite ends) and it felt
good to see another Indian flag flying on Blotanical. Since then
we've kept in touch through our Blotanical plots and we also visit
each others' blogs often. Like Sunita said, Indians are busy gar-
dening, so there's no time for blogging!! I agree, totally!
I'd like to wish Sunita many happy blogging hours/years on

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mexican Heather

I've had this pretty little plant for several years.
Little, because it grows to a height of 24" only.
Mexican Heather or cuphea hyssopifolia is a hardy
plant with tiny branches and oblong leaves. If the
plant did not bear a profusion of tiny purple flowers
it might be easily mistaken for a fern. From a distance,
of course! It seems to love the heat and the humidity
but since our summers can be cruel, I've recently
shifted the pot to partial shade. Didn't want to
take any chances!
I've read about Mexican heather bearing pink and
white flowers also, though I haven't seen them.
They must be pretty too!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Flirting with Wings

This wispy dragonfly loves to flit around my worst
garden feature. She's on a dead bougainvillea branch,
next to the arum with giant leaves. But she wasn't
really bothered about me hovering near her to get a
closer shot. Her only wish was that I shouldn't get--
up close and personal!

This mottled beauty played hard to get, leading me on-
a wild goose chase till we both got tired of running
around in circles! Finally, she succumbed to the green
temptation of the sedge leaf and I closed in on her...!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Amazing Maize........

how sweet that sounds. And the maize looks

and tastes delicious! This variety of maize is grown
in the hilly region of the north-eastern part of
India.It's sweet and aromatic. Some varieties are multi-
coloured. The cooked maize in the photo actually has
cream-coloured kernel but the cob is intense purple
so cooked maize looks like this! Even the hands
get a tinge of the colour, as though one had been
gorging on purple berries!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Latest Bloom!

At 8 in the morning, soon after it was placed in this container.

At 9.30 in the evening---in full bloom!

This morning at 7.

At 9.30 in the morning.

My lotus plant, complete with two pink buds about to
burst into song, arrived yesterday. It came in a thick
polythene bag, traversing the great, wide plains of
Assam, across flooded fields of rice, rivers in spate,
and a sea of humanity! For that is what you travel
through in summer, in India. It must've crossed
fields of its own kin, maybe, cascades of pink and
white, in ponds flushed with the night's rain and
the constant drizzle of the days before. But
still, vying for space to breathe. And bloom!
But inside the bag, in a place so foreign for an
aquatic plant, it showed signs of fatigue. One long
wilted stalk, and the other less so, still drooped
after being freed of polythene bondage.
I placed the plants in a karhai, a utensil as ubi-
quitous as rice in Indian kitchens. Soil and slush
does the needful for water plants. The leaves, browned
by the heat, should look better in a week's time.
The karhai sits on partial shade, under the palms
heavy with green and yellow fruit. Where birds, bees,
butterflies an even an occasional marsh mongoose love
to haunt!
And as for me, I have a spring in my step and a song
in my heart. I'm the proudest owner of a lotus plant!!