Saturday, October 31, 2009

Skyscape...October's Last!

The last day of October and I'm aiming for the skies again!:) Wispy clouds
on azure skies...birds heading back to roost...a pale moon...and then the
subtle play of colours. After days of cloudy skies and no rain, it's lovely
to see that blue. I hope I get to see angel wings formation one of these
days! Enjoy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blooming Friday!

Welcome to Blooming Friday! The blooms for this post are from the gardens
of a local Cultural Centre--Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra. I had gone
there hoping to photograph Mussaenda shrubs but came back with much more!

To see other posts on what's blooming today please visit Katarina at
Roses and Stuff.

The water bodies in the grounds had clouds of dragons and damsels.
Here's one kind I hadn't captured before!

The pretty pink blooms of the Lipstick Tree/Bixa orellana.

There were many birds there. In fact two long-tailed drongos ushered me
into the gardens! Here's another commonly seen's the Asian
Pied Starling.

A pink hibiscus. There were several all across the grounds. Many were
the white ones.

A dense cluster of very dark pink Ixora.

The Sleeping Hibiscus aka Wax Mallow, Turk's cap, and Firecracker

Thank you for visiting. I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wonder Bug!


Have you ever seen a bug like this? The other day I was wandering around with my camera and caught a glimpse of a shimmer of gold from the underside of a weed. When I turned the leaf towards me, I saw a most amazing sight! I have never seen a bug like this! It looked like a soap bubble all dressed up in gold! I snapped off the weed a few inches from where the bug was, and placed it on my bed of Sunset Bells. It moved around very slowly, but after a few shots, it flew away! Some of you must have seen this before, but for me, it's the first sighting. I hope I get to see it again, in the near future....
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Edited To Add--I'm so glad I got the name of the Wonder Bug I'd posted yesterday. The first one to come up with the name is an anonymous visitor (wish I knew your name) who provided the ID-- Golden Tortoise Beetle/Charidotella sexpunctata bicolor (Fabricius). Anonymous, thank you so much!

The second one is Rocksea whose wonderful site has info and photographs of two of the species. One is green, and the other, is like the one I posted. You can view them here. Rocksea, thank you so much!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mussaenda--Popular Flowering Shrub

One of the most popular flowering shrubs seen in home gardens and parks
is the Mussaenda/Mussaenda erythophylla. The usual colours seen here,
are this peachy pink that I have (Dona Luz), white (Dona Aurora), a lighter
shade of pink (Queen Sirikit), and red (Dona Evangelina).
It's a shrub that can grow to over 10 feet in height and blooms throughout
summer. It is for this intense colour that this ornamental shrub has a
focal place in most gardens.

Mine is growing in a large er..plastic bucket. Earlier ones planted on
the ground could not bear the brunt of excess water during the rains.
I learnt the hard and rather expensive way that it loves a well-drained
soil and in my garden, that's easiest to come a container!! But
now it seems happy and has already given me several months of peachy
colour. It's just that I had included it for a GBBD post, and I didn't
want to post the same again so soon.

A native of Asia (some websites mention Africa), the Mussaenda belongs
to the coffee family, Rubiaceae. Out of the cultivars I'd mentioned earlier,
'Queen Sirikit' is the only one named after the Thai queen. The other
cultivars are named after the First Ladies of the Philippines.

This shrub does well in high humidity and hot weather conditions. Propaga-
tion is by cutting or air layering. It does not require much feeding.
Watering should be moderate but the soil should remain moist. The shrub
can be pruned during winter when there's hardly any colour left on it.

The tiny blooms surrounded by colourful sepals remind me of....

...the blooms of the Bougainvillea.

See how pale some of the sepals are now. Gradually, all that bright peach
will turn pale and fall off.

Not satisfied with just the photos of my potted plant, I head off to
the gardens of Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra, a cultural centre
housing museums, an amphitheatre, a children's park and much more.
But I simply scouted around for Mussaenda!!! And these are what I

Bamboo support is used for these tall shrubs. All those blooms must
be so heavy that they need to be propped up like that!

And on a roundabout closer home, the white variety grows next to
dark pink Pentas. I thought the pink and white combination looked
pretty. What do you think?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunset Sky

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher
storm, but to add colour to my sunset sky
.~ Rabindranth Tagore

We no longer wake up to cerulean skies. As we head towards the cooler
months, our city is enveloped in a haze that gets thicker as the days
go by. There's a hint of blue but that's about it! But behind the cloudy
curtain, preparations are on for a spectacular show!:) And everyday the
hues get better and better. I've already posted about the sunset shades
of purple. We still see them off and on. Here's what I photographed a
few days ago. I hope you like going through them this Sunday afternoon,
or evening....Enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Seedpods And Spikes on Blooming Friday

Flowers and fruit are only the beginning.

In the seed lies life and the future

Marion Zimmer Bradley

Welcome to another Blooming Friday. Today it's all about seeds and
seed-heads. To view other participants' posts, please head over to
Katarina at Roses and Stuff.

Throughout the high heat of summer, the Crape Ginger/Costus speciosus
put up a show of red and white. Tiny ants never had to look elsewhere
for food. Almost every photo that I clicked had an ant or ants in
various stages/phases of hurry! And although I'd read that the
Blue-banded bees are drawn to blue and purple flowers, they came
straight for the lovely, white, crape-papery blooms!

As the last blooms faded away, the bracts turned an even more vibrant
shade of red. Now only the black seeds are left within...

Fading beauties...only the pods remain.

Leopard lily curls up before saying goodbye....

The orchids are long gone....

Basil blooms drying up.

On the wayside, grass with seed-heads is the end-of-the-day's
resting place for this butterfly. Most probably, it's the Peacock
Pansy butterfly.

And in the wild, weed seed-heads burst and disperse their legacy....
with the help from the elements.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cooking With Colocasia

There are countless varieties of Colocasia in our region. But this one
pictured above with droplets of rain, happens to be my favourite. Why?
Because this variety does not cause any irritation or burning of the
tongue and throat. If not cooked properly, consuming other cultivars
can be a most unpleasant experience.

Locally known as Neel kosu, it grows to a height of 5 ft. or so. The
stems are a deep purple. It does well in full sun too but mine has
partial shade. A south-east Asian native, this is a popular vegetable.

Edible and non-edible varieties grow side by side. Ignore the haphazard
planting, and the weeds!!

The stems can be made into a delicious dish, after chopping them
into smaller pieces. I usually cook with green chillies, onions,
garlic, coriander, salt, tomatoes,cumin, and ginger paste. My
favourite garnish? Chopped culantro/serrated coraiander.

The leaves can be fried in a batter of chick-pea or gram flour. I
made some today and they vanished in a jiffy! Rice flour also
works out well. You need to make a batter with the flour and
add salt, chilli powder, coriander and cumin powder. You can add
more masala (spices) but even with these basics, they taste good.

Remove the hard portion from the centre of the leaf and cut it into
two or four pieces, depending on the size of the leaf. Rub the batter
on the inverted side and fold as shown in the photo. Secure with a
toothpick. Dip the folded leaves in the batter and shallow fry in oil.

Embellishments, in order to enhance the look of a particular dish
may be attractive, but sometimes they take away the attention from
the main object of discussion. Keeping that in mind, there's no
garnish here. Just the folded leaf, fried to a golden brown.