Agog with Colours

So, my Zinnias are here! Yay!

I love the sturdiness of the flower. It’s like a woman — one part mush, three parts strength! When you touch the petals, the papery feel of it leaves you wondering about the artist who envisaged such an innovation.

The shrub is of course, prone to pest attacks. The leaves are so green and plump, who wouldn’t like to munch on it! Either your soil has to have a good dose of pest repellent mixed into the mulch or you have to spray a mild amount of water-induced pest-repellent (3 1/2 parts water and 1/2 parts repellent) on them, when and if at all required. Sometimes the leaves wilt because of such intrusion, so avoid it as much possible. But if it still requires a spray and your leaves wilt, do not worry too much. Your flowers are going to bloom and new leaves are going to sprout anyway.

I grew the saplings from a bunch of seeds this time. And though some failed me, I did get quite a good collection of saplings to plant. Nipping them off halfway for a bushy growth called for patience really. I had to be away at the moment when they needed the pinch-off. By the time I did it, it was a bit late and so the growth didn’t turn out as fluffy as I wanted them to be.

But the colours are majestic. The ones blooming right now are totally astounding my humble garden!

Here, have a look:

I have a few more, lying in wait, to ambush me with their colourful explosion. They have been thickly planted because of the previously snubbing response. We put a few saplings of the blue pea flower behind them to grow up into the bamboo mesh I got rooted for them.

I’m also waiting for the mangoes to ripen. They’re small, the breed I have at home, but they’re yum! Hubby had a brilliant idea (according to him) to stave off over-eager birds from pecking at the mangoes. So he got a mesh-net covering the exposed parts of the tree. I don’t know if the birds will get discouraged by this attempt. But it does keep away from being obvious if birds have a juvenile attention span.

Next up, are the balsams I got planted in the pots. It’s my maternal grandpa’s favourite. And why not, they’re so luxuriant! So here’s a ‘hello’ to grandpa Up There, though I never got the chance to meet him.

As for the evergreens, or rather the ever-yellows-and-pinks, Portulacas, you reign!

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bougainvilleas in a flower pot: A simple way to tame its overarching 

I love bougainvillaeas. They have a brilliant colour. They look most gorgeous when perched on wrought-iron arches or are growing across a roof or atop a gate. Sadly, I have neither of the arrangements. Mum gave me one of her old planted bougainvillaeas when dad retired from the tea gardens and I planted cuttings of it after I moved to a different place. So right now, I have the parent branch planted in the soil, and two children growing in flower pots.

FullSizeRenderThe trouble with bougainvillaea is that the branches stretch over and have no sense of direction. They can grow into any side they choose and go a long way. But I remembered something I saw in a nursery and used that idea to manoeuvre the plant into something more manageable. Usually, the bougainvillaea stem is quite malleable though it might not appear so. Better if you catch it young. So before this baby (see right) could flower, I wound the stem round and round, tying it to four posts that I planted firmly into the soil around the flower pot. So now, the flowers have started blooming in that fashion and it looks beautiful.

I am also planning to pay more attention to its parent plant, now that the children are taken care of. The It is growing mighty slow, maybe because of its slightly shady spot, but that is the ideal place for it to grow bigger and arch wider. I am willing to make the best efforts to make it suitable for it grow up into a tall shed of pink and white. I have recently put a bamboo canopy over it and tied the over-arching branches to the criss-cross so it can grow accordingly.

 
How do you plan your garden design? Do you have any tips for me? Please feel free to share. I’m a new gardener and very curious to learn the trade.

Money plants in bottles

 

Do you like the money plant? I do. It’s quaint and classy and doesn’t need much ado to keep it going.

The money plant is legendary actually. Apparently, a poor Taiwanese man received it in return to his prayers to God to relieve his financial burdens. He went to care for it, later selling seeds and nuts, earning a lot of money hence. I didn’t know that when I ushered it into my living room and I haven’t yet come across any nuts in them. But it is said to increase your wealth and prosperity if you care for it and nurture it well.

 

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Notice the lamp-post below the tree? The curls looks brilliant when it glows

There’s a money plant vine curling artificially around a frangipani tree in my garden right now. I did that. It cannot quite sap the juice of the tree but looks pretty nonetheless. I also had it in a flower pot, supported by a bamboo quadruped-like structure but it took a lot of effort to keep it looking fresh and green while curling it around the structure. About then, I found that this plant can grow equally well in water.

 

I had some empty wine bottles which I thought could be put to good use here. I took fresh saplings from the parent branch and dipped them into the wine bottles filled with water. Now all I do is change the water every few days and mist-spray the leaves occasionally to keep them clean. They grow and curl down and need near-to-nothing care.

Here’s a glimpse into what I have made of them –

Info:

  • Cutting: Make a sharp 45-degree incision on the branch, making sure that you’re leaving enough length to dip a node or two in the water.
  • Fill your container (planter or bottle) with water, enough to keep the nodes wet and nourished.
  • Change the water in a span of 4-5 days or even a week to keep it looking fresh.
  • If you’re going on vacation, you can leave it as it is. By the time you’re back, there might be a few yellow leaves which you can pluck away before changing the water again. The best deal about this is that it needs minimal care.

Do you have any house plants you love? Share your knowledge with me.

Winter score!

fullsizerender-16Currently, I’m enjoying the winter season (if not the cold) because of the blooming cineraria, dahlias, impatiens, petunias, chrysanthemums and verbenas in my garden. These impatiens flowered rather late and dealt me a good dose of patience in waiting for them but they’re beginning to open up now. While the whole compound of our house is pretty shaded, I had to find this spot to keep my hanging impatiens baskets so they could catch my eye when I had tea in the morning. I hung my petunias too.

My marigolds are way past their prime, so no pictures here. But here’s a lone gerbera, reminiscent of last year. I didn’t get new saplings this winter because I forgot about them completely. And then this one comes up and surprises me.

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That’s the deal with flowers. One look and you’re in love. I have not enjoyed flowers in bouquets much, except this one time when a guest handed me the most beautiful bunch of pink roses at my wedding. I usually like flowers in the garden or planters. Vases too, but occasionally, and only when I know the guests will appreciate!