Thursday, December 24, 2009

Coleus in my Garden

I guess I will have to concede defeat there – Regular blogging is not easy. I got irregular with posting a number of times in the past, but now becoming irregular has become a regular feature and I feel that regular blogging is not a choice one makes, it’s in the genes. Anyway no more tall claims about getting regular now, I will just stay cool about the regularity issue. Thankfully, tending to plants is not a victim of bloggers’ block. One can be lax in her blogging rituals but the plants keep receiving their due attention. Just like a human baby, who with her innocent look ensures that she remains the centre of attraction, nature has made the plants so beautiful that it is well neigh impossible to neglect them.
Foliage plants, like this coleus, hold good hopes of giving the look to a garden during the frigid weather, which lasts here for around a month from December end till January last.
The leaves in various wonderful shades of the coleus family keep changing their color tone and in a fortnight they will be the ones providing a colorful ambience, when rest everything will wear a denuded forlorn look.
Besides, coleus are a typically no fuss plants: just plant the cuttings, water them…rest is managed by Mother Nature.

I wanted to have a coleus dominated landscape this winter providing a nice change from the usual chrysanthemum abundance, but was too lazy to do so…maybe next time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Red and Yellow make the winters mellow!

There is a lull in life. It happens every year; round one festive season – Diwali etc. – is over and there are still few days to Christmas and New Year. Thankfully, garden is not yet reflecting the somber winter mood, there is the loving passionate warm glow of red, and mixed with the cheerfulness of yellow, it has created a perfect mood brightening symphony. The Butterfly Weed (Gosh! They call it a weed!) With admix of red and yellow is the perfect cocktail for the spirits.
Chrysanthemums bloom in abundance at this time and I try to ensure that there are plenty of them in various hues and shades of yellow and red.
We generally get rains around third to fourth week of December and they do not augur well for the mums, but before the frigidity sets in it’s a mum dominated Gardenscape.

Even the butterflies are warmed by their red-yellow soothing glow.
Sometimes nature tries its hands at origami, and when it does…this is the result. This beautiful Rose, with its wonderful yellow shading and the papery petals, gives the impression of an exquisitely crafted origami specimen.
This small, but not insignificant by any measure, Portulaca loves Sun. A typical tropical plant it closes by late afternoon and blossoms again with sunrise the next day- didn’t approve much of the camera coming between it and the Sun.The Heliconias which are typically tropical were a gift by the nuns of a local convent school, who got the plant from Kerala. The plant has thrived well and is another pretty red-yellow combination in the garden.

The exuberance of red with a dash of yellow for the tip gives the Gaillardias a glamorous outing in the wintry outdoors.

Amidst the relatively dense foliage, embossed, are the cute red-yellow aromatic clusters of lantana. There is a predominantly red-yellow tone in the garden. The warmth of these colors and the gentle sunshine make winters a fun season, but of course only till this colorful landscape lasts…after that it is going to be all grey-white, and outdoors…Brrrrr!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Buddha Belly

This laughing Buddha was a wedding gift by a dear friend, and since then it has occupied the pride of place in my drawing room. It is always a warm and happy feeling to look at someone with such a merry expression on the face. Moreover, it is quite heartening to see a well fed rotund belly, resting comfortably on a relaxed and happy body in the era crazy for size zero; I am always on the lookout for such realistic inspirations:-)
Like this laughing Buddha, which has made the indoors a gay and happy place, its namesake – Buddha belly plant – has added vivacity to the outdoors.Jatropha podagarica or the Buddha belly plant, as it is known because of its wonderful belly, is an eternal favorite of mine. Whenever it found a place in the posts, it has always received an inquisitive comment from the fellow bloggers.
I procured the plant from a local nursery for its merrily swollen belly. It flowers all the year round. During winters, though it loses its large lobed leaves but the coral red flowers hold.As the climate gets colder the leaves have started falling off giving the plant a denuded look but the beauty of the belly will remain unaffected.

The plant does have great vibes as is evident from the butterflies flocking to it. My daughter loves it for the seedpods that explode launching the seeds several feet away.

Ultimately, this is one happy plant which helps brighten up the mood, and for a good luck charm – I occasionally rub its belly too!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - November 2009

November GBBD is always special as this is the best season here to be outdoors before the frigid December winters envelope the plants in a dense fog, sending them into dormancy or freezing them to death. Although, probably as an adverse effect of global warming, one gets to see blooms in mid December also.
These are the plants which grace the garden here in NOVEMBER
Calliandra or Powder Puff
Shrimp plant or Pachystachys lutea
Buddha Belly or Jatropha Podagrica
Gaillardia or Blanket Flower
Water Lily

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In The Night Garden

As autumn nears to an end, the night air has acquired a slight chill. But despite that it is a pleasant feeling to take an evening walk amidst the plants; it is rejuvenating, de-stressing and, thanks to these sweet smelling plants – a perfectly natural, low cost, aromatherapy.
It is rather unfortunate that the sense of smell cannot be conveyed through the blog post, but hopefully the night time photos will stimulate some olfactory nerves to give an idea of the soulful aroma of Plumeria pervading the night time air.
The sensual delight of a perfumed garden – no allusion to the 15th century scripture – inspires me to have more of these aromatic plants like this Hedychium.
During day the Nyctanthes or Parijata presents a lonely sight, but it is with the fall of dusk that the flowers bloom and start exuding their soulful aroma.
The sweet faint odor of this Jasmine pervades the evening air and depending on the direction of airflow, its intensity and character keeps changing, keeping the senses active yet very…very relaxed.
The most psychedelic of the pack has to be the queen. Queen of the night or Cestrum nocturnum has the strongest presence in my garden among all the aromatic plants. Every life is besieged with a thousand worries and a million anxieties but the time spent with children and plants is a catharsis brought about naturally, silently and effectively.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Whacky and Whimsical Containers

When I did this I was accused of being downright eccentric and whimsical by my family, but now these ‘best out of waste’ ideas look like work of art, at least to me.It was, thanks to some careless handling on a bad mood day that the base of my favorite water flask came off. The sight of the fresh Kiwi fruit on the body had made this flask a much cherished one. So obviously my despair knew no bounds when the base gave away. Not in a mood to throw away something so dear to me, I hit upon the idea of planting some ornamental Asparagus in it. And now the plant is thriving and the flask with the kiwi fruit photo too is all there.What used to be a beautiful lamp once was reduced to a rotund glass structure after meeting its nemesis in my little daughter. One fine day she decided to test the resilience of the lamp by banging the telephone receiver on it; as it turned out, receiver won the mini battle and the lamp was left separated from its neck. And so here it is, sitting pretty in my garden, with a portulaca in it instead of a bulb.
This sea shell was brought from Kerala coast, where my hubby had gone on an official trip, and I instantly knew the best use I could put this shell to. So that’s Haworthia in a Sea Shell for youThis one actually is an earthenware pot, which was a ubiquitous presence in Indian households for storing water, before plastics and other synthetic derivatives displaced everything traditional and healthy. Because of the naturally present micro pores in the earthenware pot, it kept water very cool and lend a slight ‘taste’ to the stored water making the water feel very fresh to the palate. As a fond remembrance for the, now vestigial, earthenware pot, I planted a Tradescantia in it, and as the structural material of this pot is same as the conventionally used one, plant is happily thriving.
Having read a number of articles about the dangers posed by plastics, I have come to despise them, especially for microwave cooking. I believe that warmth can cause the toxic chemicals from the plastic vessel to enter into food, even with the so called ‘food grade’ plastics. Saying no to plastic for cooking, I used it in my garden! The Portulaca seems to enjoy its modified container.Aromatic tea gave way to beautiful Caladium, as the handle of this cup gave away, and the floral pattern on the cup makes the cup appear at home amidst other plants…or so I hope!
Now that is numero uno in the list of my whacky containers. I had a sedum planted in this loofah and had it hang through a support.

Having seen me indulge in these whacky, and may be downright atrocious container planting, my hubby says, “I am scared that if I am to stand still for more than 15 min, you might even start entertaining the idea of potting something in me” Now that is so inconsiderate!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Heart goes Banana...

Its time to go bananas again! I was rather impatiently, and with a little apprehension – the fondness of bugs for my fruits has been all too evident in the past - waiting for the bananas to ripen.

Fruits are arguably the best thing that comes out of a garden. One can buy a whole bunch of bananas in the market but it is not a patch on a single one produced in your backyard. After all it is not without reason that most of the anecdotes allude to these wonderful gifts [fruits] of nature. Have we ever heard of, ‘reaping the flowers of one’s labor?’ Or may be, ‘tasting the sweet vegetables of success?’ quite obviously these altered proverbs don’t cut any ice with logic.
Finally ripen they did. When the bunch of this, potentially creamy, juicy, but now raw green fruit showed slight roundening of borders, I knew that the time was ripe to free the bunch from the branch.
Now, here was the catchy part as I had to invest in a kilo of apples from the fruit vendor so that I could put one of those apples with my beautiful bunch to enable ripening. The acetylene gas, which is liberated in whole sale by the apple, helps ripen the bananas quickly.
The banana bunch, with the apple, are put in a bucket and covered nicely with a newspaper…
Lo and behold! Rich, sweet, creamy, healthy, power packed, absolutely homegrown(but for the solitary apple), bananas are ready…