Portulacas – my summer respite!

Summer time is not too kind to most flowers. I mean, our kind of summers — the scorching, Indian sun, burning the skins off Mother Nature’s bountiful sons and daughters! Trees would shade you from the sun alright, but they won’t be able to canopy the kind of dainty blooms you lusted after all winter. The robust zinnias that withstand the heat also linger for only a short period. In Assam, the water bodies do inspire ample rainfall. In fact, it already poured a week ago! But that means summers will bite. With winters getting over in a January fortnight and off-season monsoons drenching Bihu, I am intimidated about how many litres a day we’re going to sweat! Most days, coming out of the house without a pair of eyeshades (even if I’m in pyjamas) is simply impossible. And yet, my plan is to do don my shades to get a quick glance of my Portulacas.

An earthen curd bowl rejuvenated into a flower pot (check pic above), is currently holding a batch of Portulacas in my row of would-bes. Since the seasonals are done with, I have replenished the empty flower baskets with Portulacas. Except that they shut eyes by 2 PM, Portulacas — also known as the 9 AM flowers —  are a delightful bunch to look at. My batch has bright pink and yellow. If you have an old batch, you can simply stick one to half an inch stems in the soil and with good watering, they’ll grow well. But, note that the extended growth of already planted stems usually leads to thin flowering. So when they grow inordinately, stem the branches off. They’ll grow denser and flower better.

While my zinnias are yet to grow stronger, the portulacas have been growing steadily, duly covering their habitat in the day and getting droopy by evening. I have a 3-storeyed wrought iron stand that holds about nine pots in threes. I’m planning to make my 9 AMs stand in rows and burn the sun back. We’ll see who wins!

Bohag flirts with me!

The crazy phagun winds and the unexpected downpour are gone and the air is definitely cleaner than it was. Thanks for the showers, my greens have gotten greener. I hope they can withstand the imminent, brutal summer. As for now, Bohag (Spring) has already started flirting a little.

With Easter, next Sunday, my Easter Lilies should have been ready to bloom. As it appears, they’re going to take time. Surprising, what a few, odd, garlic-like bulbs can grow into. I got them from Mum’s garden two years before and regretfully, missed them last year because I had to be away. This year, I shall not stray from a single bloom. So, seeing that they probably won’t make it by this weekend, I’m ready to wait. What is life if you cannot stand and stare at such lovelies?

Oh, my Davies! Did I tell you? While lilies are waiting, my garden is almost agog with orchids. I love those Foxtail orchids, woven like a garland with closely-knit blooms. We call it Kopou and often use them to adorn hair buns of Bihu dancers. They are endemic to Assam but I don’t have that in my garden! (choke)

Instead, I have dendrobiums, I think! Yellow ones, more than the mauve; though I have them too. Months ago, I had got my orchids packed with soil and manure, and tied to these trees. We just replenished the manure a few weeks back for the branches to flower.

Last weekend, I had to leave home for work, leaving my orchid buds looking at me with promise. When I got back, this was waiting for me. Seems like we’ve been rewarded!

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I don’t know what they are called (maybe, yellow dendrobium) but if you’re looking for drops of gold, here they are!

 

My Seasonal Update

So, chrysanthemums and marigolds and petunias and cineraria are over. Sniffle!

 

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Zinnias sprouting for spring

Come spring, I am expecting a bed of healthy and robust Zinnias smarting my eyes with their festive colours. We sprinkled a bed of 100 Zinnia seeds that have sprouted into lovely seedlings of at least 83 for now. The rains haven’t been helpful at all but I am still planning to plant these babies in the flower bed and put a shed over them if it rains. If I keep them waiting for too long, they’ll grow lanky and will not flower well.

 

I lost patience with my Impatiens in baskets. They haven’t flowered as brightly and sprightly as I had wanted them to. So I shifted them to the ground and flower pots. Let’s see how it works out.

 

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The ever reliable drumstick tree in the front yard

The soil in my current abode is too sandy, but I cannot help. The river bed is close by and the house, having been built next to it, is inadvertently earthed with sand mixed soil. Yet, I was able to have a delightful brigade of cauliflowers and cabbages last winter. I even parcelled them off to both sides of the family. I have a drumstick tree right in front of the house; so that’s taken care of. We often forget about it. It flowers when it flowers, strewing the whole pathway like paradise and is laden with drumsticks now, enough to make wonderfully warm curries with mustard paste. Yum!

 

The gourds are, well, still in waiting, though I see some growth in the bean bed. Once the non-seasonal downpours retire and they get some much-required sun, they’ll grow better.

For now, there are these little white brinjals which make an awesome snack for drinks, if you fry them in chick-pea flour batter; and the ongoing batch of Bhutanese and Indian potatoes. The former is a delectable item, I tell you! It is a little ruddy and awfully tasty. Mash it or shallow fry it, you will impress guests nonetheless.