Thursday, April 30, 2009

Two Kinds Of Aromatic Plants

In full bloom in early April was this Night Blooming Jasmine.
This photo was taken in the hospital grounds at Haflong. The
fragrance was intoxicating and I suppose no garden should be
without this lovely plant.

Cestrum nocturnum is also known as Raat ki Rani in our country.
It means "Queen of the Night". And rightly so. For its fragrance
is wonderful and the surrounding area is filled with it. The
flowers are small and cream-coloured and are in clusters. The
shrub produces three or four flushes of flowers in a year,
lasting for about two weeks or so.

After the night's rain...amazing that without the fragrance,
the blooms seem less spectacular.

In my mother's garden, the Tej Patta was in full bloom. The
name I've used is in Hindi. The botanical name is Cinnamomum
tamala/Cinnamomum tejpatta. The tree is medium-sized and the
tough leaves are three-veined. The leaves are aromatic and
used in a lot of Indian dishes. For us, a kitchen without
tej-patta would be incomplete. It is often referred to as
the Indian bay leaf.

The following is the information I got from Wikipedia.

Cinnamomum is a genus of evergreen trees and shrubs belonging
to the Laurel family, Lauraceae. The species of cinnamomum have
aromatic oils in their leaves and bark. The genus contains 300
species distributed in tropical and sub-tropical areas around
the world. The etymology is derived from the Greek word
"kinnamomon' meaning spice.

Although Tej patta is called the Indian bay leaf, it is different
from the one used in Mediterranean/Western cooking. Tej patta has
a flavour that reminds you of cinnamon. The leaves of the Bay Laurel/
Laurus nobilis, also extensively used in soups, stews, and other
dishes, has a milder flavour.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Four O'clock Flower

My recent post on wildflowers had one prominent variety
missing from the list. The Four O'clock flower or Mirabilis
Jalapa. Growing next to railway tracks and roadsides, they
come in several hues. The most common ones are- dark pink,
white, yellow, and pink with white lines.

The flowers are so named because they open in the afternoon
when the temperature drops. They close the next morning except
on dull and cloudy days. The plant is multi-branched and the
blooms are tubular. The long tube is suited to long-tongued
nectar-feeding, night-flying pollinators.

Mirabilis jalapa is also known as Marvel of Peru. This native
of South America has now become naturalized in tropical and
temperate climes.

The plant does well in full sun or partial shade. Propagation
is easy. Through seeds and its tuberous root. The seeds resemble
pepper seeds. I've succeeded in growing it from stem as I couldn't
yank out the root. The stem just above the root gave away and I
planted that portion. That was in January. Now tiny white tubes
have sprouted. Can't wait to see whether those pink lines will
also be there! As of now, the pink variety has self-seeded. There
are quite a few plants in unlikely places rooting:) for new

The above photographs are of the ones in my pots. The blooms in the
last photo were picked from the roadside and promptly put in a vase
in my kitchen. I remember reading that "Mirabilis" means wonderful
in Latin. An addition that's surely welcome in any garden.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


With my last post titled "Flora", it's only fair that this one is
called "Fauna". Lizards head the list and with so many of them all
across the garden, they were the easiest to photograph.

My nephew discovered this one on this bush. She later perched herself
right on the top to soak up the afternoon sun.

Here's one all splayed on a fence in one part of the hospital. This
area seemed to get less attention from the gardener.

A wounded lizard found by my nephew. Must've been attacked by
the cat.

A quick run to the bottom of the garden yielded these results.
There are many skinks under heaps of dry leaves. I almost stepped
on this beautiful creature.

A wagtail on the bamboo. Caught her as I shot some of the day-
break scenes.

There were many brown butterflies but this one caught my eye. I
haven't googled hard enough to be able to rattle off its name.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


April, and my mother's lilies are in full bloom. The brightness
of the blooms never failed to lift my spirits somewhat.

Wildflowers abound on the edge of roads. These plants have tiny
blue flowers but I've never found out what they're called.

An early morning shot of Angel Trumpets blooming in profusion.
The roadsides were more interesting because of the variety of
wild blooms.

Poinsettias planted on the edge of the road but now neglected.
They could well keep blooming through May.

I counted four varieties of Ipomoea on fences, trees and walls.
This variety, Blue Dawn Flower, looks spectacular because of its
vibrant colours.

A white variety I'd never noticed before.

Here's one with pinkish hues. Shot early in the morning.

Wild sunflowers in abundance on roadsides.

Look at that yellow!

The most common orchids on the trees of my hometown. The sun
was no longer strong as I tried to capture the yellow cluster
on this tall tree.

All the photos were taken on the route between home and hospital.
April brought its showers and blooms in abundance. Another month
will have its share of nature's bounty, maybe in forms and colours
totally different from what you have just seen.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Back Again

I'm back after the longest gap ever. I did not mention the reason
of my being away because I did not imagine that my father's health
would deteriorate so much that nothing could alleviate his pain.

The past three weeks have been the most harrowing time for my family
to see a loved one struggling to survive against odds that seemed to
outweigh everything else. But thank God, some kind of stability, if
it can be termed that, did come. And although he is bed-ridden now,
the pain has been reduced somewhat.

Between tears, prayers, and trips to hospital and home, I took these
shots. My beautiful hometown is surrounded by blue hills. And from the
hospital, dawn seemed to carry more promise. Or was it that I was seeking
a desperate reason for more scenes as promising as day break across these
blue hills?

View of the hills from my parents' backyard.

Part of the town near the hospital.

The backyard again. Sunrise scene.

All the other photographs were taken near the hospital and home.

Thank you to all my visitors and also to everyone who commented
on my last post. I'll soon be posting on garden wildlife and
of course, blooms!