Jul 26, 2008

The New guests

Hey All!

Things are starting to get more interesting in my Greenies’ world. Strangers have popped out their heads along with the warmly invited guests, to be greeted well. Of course I’d greet them well as long as they’re not nuisance (weeds; and they don’t seem like – at least for now), as here in India, it is believed that along with your guests come in the Gods, Manes, and Divine sages and disappointing the guests would disappoint the invisible companions, which you wouldn’t want to happen obviously.

My mom says some of them are lemon saplings and the others look like the Jasmine creeper, some like the Ixoras. Well, time will say who they’re. Let’s wait and watch, until then, I’ll nourish them well and keep them happy.

About the invited guests, many have heeded my call and have been patient upon my amateurish treatment. Master Bitter Gourd and his little girlfriend have moved into their new home today. Master BG came out faster than his girl and I hope they like their new 6-inch high home comfortable. I filled their home with an experimental furniture.

It’s something like this – Small pieces of thermocol – the same acting as crock-piece at the bottom, regular soil (that I got from the nursery nearby), compost, fertilizer, and coconut husk. I was forced to use thermocol after many days of frustrating shopping at nurseries and seeds shops.

In one of the nurseries, I asked the vendor, “Hi! Do you have perlite?” He looked at me quizzically; I explained, “You know the one used for good drainage and air? The small whitish crystals?”

“No, no! We don’t sell all that.” He smiled apologetically.

I didn’t give up, “How about vermiculite?”

“No sir! I’m sorry, no.” He almost snapped.

“Oh ok... errm... You don’t happen to have peat moss, do you?”

This got him really irritated and said, “Why don’t you check the Ayurvedic pharmacies? They might have the chemicals you’re looking for.” I was so bugged by this reply. I stuffed the cash for my purchase in his hands and drove away without another word to him.

I also checked with few seeds shops who sell agricultural products and even they shook their heads. After searching over the Internet for alternative I finally came up with thermocol bits, something I could get easily and used it for the Gourd family. I hope they like their new home and get accustomed to it quickly.

I was actually gonna speak about my Bandhûka (बंधूक - pronounced > Bun-dhoo-kuh Red Ixora – Ixora Coccinea) – that’s what it’s called in Sanskrit (the one language I love the most) that got itself adapted in my garden pretty quickly and she started flowering profusely since the day one. The day after I planted her, I started seeing Ixoras all around – it so happened that the government decided to plant flora all around the city and guess which plant they chose? Ixora! In most of the places it’s the pink or orange flowered ones. The most saddening thing is many of them died within a week due to the extreme heat and no water.

Ixora is actually believed to have been given its name from the Sanskrit word Îsvara which is an epithet for Lord Siva and the flower’s very dear to him too. Ixoras do well in acidic, well-drained soil and love full sun, but would grow well even in shade (mine gets sun for an hour or more). I have another tiny Ixora plant shaded by the larger one and it’s growing really slow. If you plan to grow it in pots, you might want to get the ones that give out tiny flowers (it’s so cute to see them in pots, fully flowered). It’s the best shrub for the Indian (Tropical) Climate that rewards you with minimal care. It’s my view that this is a must-have for all gardeners due to its never-fading beauty. Work’s beckoning me... See you all later with other plants in my Greenies’ world... Now, they need a name don’t they? Hmmm.... I’m thinking...

Jul 16, 2008

Purple aquatic blooms!

So, many things happened after I officially started my tiny new garden. As someone said, your garden is never the same – there's always something new every day. It's been more than a week since I planted the Water Hyacinth and lo and behold! Something exciting happened yesterday morning when I went back home from work.

In fact after a bit of reading about Water Hyacinths, I learned that they're a nuisance in most of the water receptacles. I learnt that they double themselves every fortnight and their hairy roots also serve as the breeding homes for mosquitoes (this got me really scared). In fact in many parts of India this beauty is completely covering the streams, backwaters, and other water receptacles, and is really difficult to eliminate them. Anyways I'm not worried about all that as I'm not introducing them in to streams (as if there're many in Chennai).

When planted in homes they serve as beautiful ornamental and low-maintenance plants. If you live near ponds or lakes don't ever introduce these into them, as they crowd together so much that they block the oxygen supply to the water hence killing the aquatic plants below. When I saw these beauties in the nursery they were crowded in the pot and I thought it was difficult to grow, but the woman said, 'Wait a month and see how crowded the pot gets!'

How to plant it?

1. Well, Fill a medium-sized pot with a quarter of soil and compost.

2. Fill the rest with water, an inch below the tip. Place the plant on the water.

3. Don't worry if it slants onto a side, as it'd eventually spread itself and start growing.

4. In a matter of ten days, my plant with its five stems spread the entire pot and the surprise that I mentioned initially was Hyacinths – in just 10 days! They bloom in a bunch – the flower's a light shade of purple with a beautiful tiny yellow spot. It was a great sight. My neighbor was captivated by its sight and asked her daughter-in-law to pot one in their house too.

Jul 11, 2008

My new Tiny Garden

I finally found a new name for my blog and something better and interesting to blog about.

Every time I go to my aunt’s place, I’d always wander about in her backyard garden (you couldn’t call it garden anymore as it looks so messy, but the sight of plants and trees excites me, so I love it) and this one time (about three months ago), I saw a betel creeper in her backyard. I was wide-eyed and open-mouthed like a kid would stare at an ice-cream cone with a huge dollop of cream melting down. It was such a beautiful sight - a six or seven foot creeper with big, shiny, dark-green leaves draped over a log that was tied to her windowsill (I guess). From then on I fell in love with creepers - if I see a creeper anywhere on the road, I’d smile at it and admire its beauty (Luckily I never met with an accident doing this while driving - psst… don’t tell my mom or dad about it. it’s a secret between us).

I’ve had very little experience with gardening myself, as we didn’t have much space in our house. Our house is right in front of the road and no sir… no backyard! But my mom loves gardening, so she made a small space to plant something when we rented the house years ago in the small space in front of our house. A beautiful Crape Jasmine or Moonbeam plant, Red Hibiscus, and Holy Basil decorated that space (I must be 7 or 8 years old by then) Later on, few years later people started plucking leaves, rodents took charge, leaves withered, stems weakened and everything tied except the Holy Basil, which too gave up after few more years. My mom became exhausted and couldn’t find time to take care of them in between her busy work at home and it was bye to plants. for years. Three or four years ago mom again tried many holy basils and others, but all would live for few weeks and fall dead on ground. My mom couldn’t bear to see them dying and she stopped planting further. But the Scindapsus Aureus (Money Plants) grew faithfully and beautifully till date.

After I saw that beauty (Betel Creeper) I wanted to renew the abandoned space in front of my house and luckily, my mom got a Betel Creeper from one of our relatives’, which gave birth to our new ‘tiny’ garden. Again, luckily our local Electricity (or now was it Telephone… whatever!) decided to tinker with the underground lines and dug up the ground (first time, in my life, I appreciate them doing this). Wow! That was godsend fresh soil from Mother Earth. One day when I went back home from work my mom filled the new garden space with fresh soil and mixed it thoroughly with the soil that was already in. We then planted the Betel Creeper and another Jasmine Creeper (locally called Sampangi - this is not the usual shrub variety). I loved watering them everyday and would watch them closely. Every time I see a new leaf sprouting, I’d run to my mom to deliver the news (’Ma! It’s sprouted another one!’, ‘Ma! It’s grown an inch’, ‘Ma! That betel leaf has grown bigger). This might sound stupid to you, but for an amateur gardener it’s so exciting.

Then I began studying about plants, trying to learn how they grow, what makes them grow faster, what is the individual requirement of each plant and so on. Two weeks ago unable to contain myself, I ran (I mean drove. DUH!) to a nursery nearby and bought an Ixora (with Red Flowers), Silver Jenny ‘Allamanda’, and a Jasmine Creeper (Still trying to get its botanical or common name in English - called Nityamalli in Tamil).

They were all happy with the new soil and began growing beautifully… Ixora happily blooming deep-red flowers, Silver Jenny with a long, yellow flower every few days, and the Nityamalli was getting ready with its buds. But a really horrible incident happened, which shook me (Literally). One evening (four days ago) I went out to water the plants and I was shocked to see that a small side branch of Allamanda was completely plucked off, same in the case of Ixora, the branch with beautiful budlings from Nityamalli was severed, Money plants lost its leaves and so did the bottom part of Allamanda! And the most horrible thing that happened was a leaftlet and almost the largest leaf from Betel Creeper were plucked off.

Now, who’d have the heart to do such a thing? I was almost silent that night at office. I couldn’t think of anything, but ‘Who could’ve done this?’

The answer to that question remains a mystery till date. I hope whoever did that paid for their actions. It’s almost equal to murdering… Wish I could see that person! I’d break his hands into two! (Grrr…)

My mom said, ‘See that’s what happened years ago and I stopped.’

‘No ma! We can’t just like that stop planting just because some _____ doesn’t want us to!’ I replied and the next day I bought many seeds of different flowering plants, few pots and a floating water plant - Water Hyacinth.
I planted (well, ‘placed’ should be the right word) the Water Hyacinth that very night and it would stand. It kept slanting to a side and one of its branch would sink into the water. I forced it to stand upright with a metal rod and the next day I saw that it forced the rod out of its way and stood in the water proudly. I smiled at it before driving to work.

That night I also sowed Dahlias, Clarkia, Amaranthus, and Strawflower indoors. I’m so nervous as this is the first time that I’m growing something (especially flowering plants) from seeds (Oh! I did grow Ragi during Navarathri for decorations, but other than that I’ve had no experience). Before sowing them I had to lookup many websites to make sure I do it right.

‘Don’t fuss too much. Just sow it in the soil, keep them wet and they’ll grow,’ my experienced mom would say, but I’d shake my head saying,

‘No ma! I wanna make sure I do it right.’ (My mom would roll her eyes)

So I finally got to sow them and let’s pray it germinates soon and grows well.

By the ways, today when came out, I saw that the Water Hyacinth had spread its stems (may be they’re called branches?) out and stood proudly facing the sun. A BIG smile spread on my face. I can’t wait to see their violetish flowers.