Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Few August Blooms

The Rangoon Creeper---I think mine is a late bloomer this year,
I noticed the blooms about a week ago. I love how the flowers
droop so daintily.
This plant is native to south-east Asia and west tropical Africa.
Its botanical name is 'Quisqualis indica' and was named so by a
Dutch botanist called Rumphius. The fruit and leaves are known to
have medicinal properties but I haven't googled that as yet!

Got this begonia from a nursery closest to my house. The
driftwood and rocks were picked up on my last trip to
the river called Jia-Bharali...a haven for nature lovers!

This fast growing climber is the trumpet flower. I noticed the
first blooms in June but they're slowing down now. There's a
narrow road next to the wall and an empty marshy plot of land.

This golden trumpet is not mine but from the neighbour's side
it crosses over my wall. I love it! Just look at that yellow!

Dappled sunlight in the afternoon--another view of my trumpet creeper.
The aerial roots attach to surfaces and the flowers bloom in clusters!

I've posted pictures of these white blooms before. They appeared
on their own looking really wild with long leathery leaves. But I
think the blooms are pretty and every time I go near them, there's
always a small bee popping out of the blooms. Not bad at all!

This plant grows and blooms prolifically. It's a common sight in
Guwahati gardens. The leaves resemble the lantana to some extent.
I don't know what it's called. It doesn't need much care and
blooms throughout summer, well into late October. Then the leaves
die out during winter. And when the first rains come, may be as
early as March, the leaves sprout and the cycle starts again...

Friday, August 29, 2008


Home, for these little snails is the hardy trunk(?) of my
cycad. I wouldn't have known if I weren't on a cleaning
spree, removing the hard and spiky dead leaves from the
plant. To use the words--cutting off--sounds as if it
needs no effort on my part! Hacking is more the word;
dead or alive this is one sturdy plant!

A little of what too much rain can do--can be seen here.
This pretty yellow butterfly doesn't seem to mind at all!

It's quality nectar-time for this tiny bee on the basil.
I've noticed that really small bees come here and they get
very, very busy!

Please click on the photos for a better view.

I thought I'd never see a green dragonfly but a close
inspection shows a green tinge. Not as green as the ones
I see on other blogs though!

This teeny-weeny butterfly is a dull gray when it spreads out
its wings. But as it sucked from the pretty flowers of Mexican
Heather, its wings going a little flippety-flap, I noticed the
off-white speckled with gray.
All these pictures( except the snails on the cycad)
were taken yesterday, in the afternoon--just after
the rain and the threat of a storm had subsided.
Within the span of 20 minutes or so I got these shots.
These lovely creatures fly/flap/flit about making it a
pleasure for me to move about--in my yard!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Birds Of A Weather

They come in all shapes and sizes, at different hours of the
day, chirping, cooing, screeching or squawking as they go
about the serious business of surviving! My plot must be
the land of plenty for them because they're here most of the
time. Of course I feed them, but not all the time. This pigeon
was busy pecking but when she saw me with the camera, she flew
off to the wire and looked rather cheekily (I think!) at me!!

This wire which is just outside our compound is a favourite haunt.
I love to sit in the veranda and watch them, especially in the
afternoons. My berry tree is also another favourite haunt!

These are pictures of only some kinds. I have not managed to
get good shots of a strikingly beautiful kingfisher that comes
a-calling now. Water bounty can be tempting even with people
around! The moment they see me, they're off to the wire,
otherwise they're happy foraging/pecking in my front-yard!

I feel blessed to be visited by such lovely creatures! There's
a moorhen, furtive as ever, so I haven't got a good picture
as yet! She quickly flies her short distances and disappears
in a flash! But she does keep coming back. After all this is
the land of plenty...!!

Please click on the pictures for a better view.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Water Plants Branch Off!

I had actually gone out in the rain this afternoon armed with
an umbrella and my camera to take photos of the water lilies'
new home. This caught my eye--raindrops dripping down the long
and lovely blades of the ponytail/nolina plant. In the shower
the gate looked like a metallic haze...

This container water garden looked like it could do with some
b-r-e-a-t-h-i-n-g space so I took out an old container and set
about turning it into the plants' new abode. I even got wild aquatic
reeds to be planted here.

I'm still working on this area. In a month's time this patch
should look better than what it is now. The container was
lying in the shed for so long. I'm glad I've been able to
put it to good use!

Finally, A Butterfly Has Landed!

My garden has never been one of prolific blooms but this Ixora
is still going on--adding a splash of colour to a plot ravaged
by rain! Most of the time I go ga-ga over rain but months of
sodden earth has its ugly side too! Handling garden soil is out
of question so my activities have been limited to my potted
plants. Oh, but why am I cribbing about rain now? This post
is actually about a butterfly that landed on the Ixora.

I've written about and posted photos of butterflies before but I'd
always wanted to photograph the most spectacular ones resting/
sucking nectar from the blooms. Those still flit about, and I still
don't stand a chance. Ah well, I'll have to settle for second best!

One would assume that getting an opportunity like this one should
come up with the best shots. Story of my life!! The afternoon sun
was against my face and if I had taken it from the other angle,
either the boundary wall or the barbed wire would've blocked my view.
I couldn't even get close enough what with the rain-created puddles
turning to little ponds complete with miniature forms of aquatic life!
Butterflies are extra sensitive to sudden movements and there were a few!
Can you spot the one and only--that's what it'll be, for the time being.
And if this is a start, won't I be able to shoot them in colours to
die for?! Soon? I hope so....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Simple Dish of Banana Flower

The red bracts are removed and two things are discarded--
the hard filament(?) and the transparent papery portion.

The cleaned vegetable is blanched for a few minutes. Then
the water is squeezed out and to the chopping board!

The chopped veggie and the other ingredients--bay leaves,
dried chillies, onions, chilli powder, coriander and
fenugreek powder. Other ingredients not in the picture
but used in making the dish are--salt, turmeric powder,
oil, and fresh herbs for the garnish. I also added boiled
and diced potatoes to the dish.

Onions sauted, spices added, fried till the oil separated.
More chillies can be added depending on taste.

It's ready! A tasty accompaniment to a rice-based or a roti-
based (Indian bread) meal!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ocimum sanctum

Among the most aromatic of herbs is the basil. One variety of
this herb--ocimum sanctum--has for centuries been regarded as holy,
in India. Belonging to the family 'labiatae' it is not more than
25cm to 50cm in height. Native to India, south-east Asia,Iran, and
the north-eastern parts of Africa, it is widely cultivated for its
oil and medicinal properties. The plant has several branches covered
with fine hairs. The flowers are tiny: white with a little purple.
In India it is known as 'tulsi' meaning the incomparable one. Hindus
worship the plant and the epics are full of the miraculous and sacred
events connected with the different species of basil. It is said that
even snakes dare not enter a house which has the plant at its door!

The leaves are used for treating common colds, headaches, poisoning
and stomach disorders. It also acts as a deterrent to mosquitoes,
insects and bacteria.
Since the leaves have antiseptic properties, a paste made by crushing
the leaves, can be applied to wounds, which then heal quickly.

According to Ayurvedic literature, the crushed roots applied to
a snake bite or scorpion sting, brings relief to the victim and
also nullifies the poison.
Personally, I love the freshness of the smell that you get as you
pass by the plant. The little doses of zing--on a sunny or a cloudy
day-- and I have them in several pots around my yard.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Variegated Varieties!

A garden may be resplendent in green but only green can
be monotonous. Flowers in different colours are no doubt
the best garden feature but if for certain reasons
one can't be so lucky, like me, variegated foliage is an
attractive option. Constraints of space on the ground
and the quality of the soil are my main reasons. Apart
from a few summer varieties, I can only think of two--zinnia
and cosmos- flowers can be grown only in winter.
I believe the garden reflects the personality of the owner,
and in my case, it's more of a scatter-brained, Calamity
Jane (literally!) kind of area. All the palm trees in the
photo are in containers. Now I have to rack my brains about
placing the pots so that they aren't in anybody's destructive
(highly likely) path!!

The green, striped grass of home looks good placed with something
greener or with alocasia.

An assortment of variegated foliage adorns my coffee table.

View from the back--it's like looking at things from a
different perspective!

Recently planted coleus--will need some time to perk up!

This dead beetle was amidst my plants. My camera does not do
any justice to its vibrant beauty!

A little back-yard arrangement. The blue pot is a recent

Last, but not the least, are my hybrid bougainvilleas.
Hopefully, with time the blooms will be prolific!