Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blooming Friday - Colours of Holi

I am putting up the Blooming Friday post now, one day earlier, as I am leaving on a trip to some historical places for the long weekend . The flower above and below are the flowers of the Rasna, Alpinia galangal, a medicinal herb used extensively in Ayurvedic formulas. The plant puts out its orchid- like flowers during spring.
The flower shown below is bright red . I don't know its name. My camera doesn't do justice to the beauty of the flower.

There is another flower here whose name I don't know, although I have had it since 8 years. My school gardener tells me that it is a yellow Barleria, but I doubt it.

This is the red Chenille Plant from my School garden.

Red and yellow are the colours of Holi, the colourful Spring festival of India.
A happy Holi to all my Indian friends!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cool Begonias

With the mercury rising to 34C, and no rain in sight, one likes to see cool colours
The begonias are in flower, most of the flowers being in shades of pink.

The blossoms of Begonia 'Dancing Girl' dance when there is even a slight breeze. But the days are still and hot now.

Many begonias have their origin in India. You can come across quite a few varieties of wild begonias if you go to the forests of the Western Ghats. The home of the Rex begonia is the north eastern state of Assam.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Rare Visitor

I have always longed to take bird pictures, but rarely been successful. The best I could do was to take the pictures of the sleeping Barn Owl and the Egret. So Iwas thrilled to get this shot of the Kingfisher which visited my garden yesterday.
The kingfisher is a cosmopolitan bird, equally at home in cty gardens and the countryside. It eats grasshoppers and other insects. In some cultures, it is considered to be sacred.
The Kingfisher Airlines which operates in India is a very friendly and efficient airline. The Kingfisher brand of beer is a popular drink here.
I hope the bird Kingfisher visits my garden often.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Flower of Allure

The Night Blooming Tropical Water Lily, Kumuda, was considered to be the epitome of mystery , romance and passion by the ancient Indian poets. Many poems in Sanskrit allude to its beauty.

Unlike the Lotus, which is blooms during the day, this water lily blooms in the night adding to its allure. There are the more prosaic day blooming lilies too, but the night bloomers have had reams of poetry written on them.
My pale pink night blooming water lily has just started blooming , after I followed the advice of my friend Helen . Thank you, Islandgal!

This day blooming water lily is from a neighbour's garden. This flower closes at sunset and so did not hold any allure for the poets of old!.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blooming Friday- Colours of February

February is the month of transition in the tropics. Winter finally bids good bye and the short spring takes over. Some of the flowers start packing up, and some new flowers start appearing.
The sky blue flowers of the Plumbago have just started blooming. There is a wild white variety which grows wild in vacant plots.
The Crucifix orchid is putting out lots of buds now.

The orchid like flowers of the Water Hyacinth have started showing up. Perhaps they resent the restriction of the tub in which they are grown!

The last of the roses. With the days becoming hotter (it is already 33C in the shade) the roses are calling it a day.

The Barleria has also started packing up. It doesn't seem to like this year,s early summer.
Thanks to Katarina at Roses and Stuff for hosting Blooming Friday.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Butterflies of the Season

The Common Mormon is a frequent visitor to my garden these days.
The Crimson Rose flies too high, but sometimes comes down to rest for a moment.

The Lemon Butterfly on Lemon Grass. It no longer likes the lemon bush as all its leaves are shed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The Sapodilla is called Chikoo in North India and Sapota in South India. It is a brown fruit with light brown flesh which is very sweet. My Sapodilla tree is only three feet high as it is only three years old. It has given me the first fruits which I am going to ripen .

The Sapodilla tree is a medium sized tree with glossy green leaves. It bears fruit throughout the year in these parts. The flowers are small and insignificant.
The Chikoo fruit is said to be a preventive of cancer.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Foliage in February

My ZZ Plant has started flowering. You can see the flowers at the base of the plant. I always thought that the Zamia was related to the Cycas, but it turns out that it is really a cousin of the Aglaonema. The ZZ plant is drought resistant as it can hold water in its base.
Aglaonema and Alocasia metallica make good companions. The Alocasia metallica has started sprouting all over my garden now.

The Rex Begonias have beautiful designs and colours.

The Never-never Plant has three colours in its foliage.

The Aluminium Plant glows with a silvery sheen. It needs plenty of water.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day February 2010

Congratulations to Carol at May Dreams Garden for the huge success of her Garden bloggers' bloom Day started three years ago.
The picture above shows the Zebra Plant Sanchezia which is blooming in my tropical garden.

The Heliconiums are putting out these showy flowers, which, in a month's time will be two feet long.
Another heliconium, Strelitzia reginae, the Bird of Paradise is blooming happily in the scorching sun.

The pink Ixora has at last started blooming. Its orange cousin never stopped blooming .

The Hoya Carnosa, a native of India like the Ixora , has started putting out its perfumed waxy flowers. It will bloom again and again on the same branch.
Thanks to Carol for hosting the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Please visit May Dreams Garden to see what is blooming in different parts of the world.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Blooming Friday- Hearts for Valentine's Day

My garden is presenting me with many hearts for Valentine's Day. Bothe the flower and the leaf of the Anthurium are heart shaped.
A group of peaceful hearts of the Peace Lily Spathiphyllum.

More leafy hearts.

The three dimentional pink hearts of the Begonia.
And , for you,the golden hearts of the Thunbergia Mysorensis.

Have a happy Valentine's Day!
For my Indian friends, Happy Shivaratri!
For my Chinese friends, Happy Chinese New Year!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


This Litchee tree was planted ten years ago, and it has grown quite tall. But it seems to be what gardeners of old used to call 'barren'. I have done everything to persuade it to flower- given it cow manure, sheep manure, compost, plenty of water, withheld water, and even chemical fertilizer, to no avail. I have talked to it for days on end, my gardener has scolded it and beaten it with a broom- but it has remained fruit and flower challenged. Being a teacher, I don't have the heart to discard it , as it might be ' differently abled'. it seems to have a companion- the Common Jay which is shown below.
This butterfly circles the top of the Litchee tree throughout the day, chasing away any other butterflies. I hav observed it chase away Crimson Rose butterflies, Common mormons and even the huge Blue Mormon! It comes down once in a while to visit the flowers and replenish itself.
Do you know a way to make the Litchi tree bloom? Other Litchi trees are not so temperamental. My friend who lives in the next block , gets basketfuls of litchi fruit every year.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Rare Visitor

Yesterday afternoon, after a harrowing day at school, I was relaxing in my verandah with a cup of hot coffee, when I saw a flash of blue. I ran to get the camera. After fifteen minutes of running after my rare visitor, I could get some pictures of the butterfly.
The large blue butterfly visited all the flowers in my garden.

My exhaustion vanished completely with the adrenalin surging in my veins.

The huge butterfly did not forget to visit the Cayenne pepper.
When at last it flew away, I went back to my coffee which had become cold.

The Blue Mormon Papilio polymnestor is a native of the rainforests of South India and Sri Lanka. It is the second largest swallowtail butterfly of the region. My visitor measured 7 inches from wingtip to wingtip. The Blue Mormon is sometimes seen in cities like Bangalore and Mysore because it is attracted to the heavy vegetation there.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cattle Egret

I took this picture of the calf with the egrets in the nursery of the Forest Deparment near my home. At first , the birds would fly away as soon as I focussed my camera. After standingstill for a long time, I convinced the egrets that I meant them no harm.
The Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis is a small white heron which follows cattle and eats the insects disturbed by them. Their name Bubulcus in Latin means 'herdsman', which is quite apt. The bird removes ticks and flies from cattle. It is a usual sight in Indian countryside to see these birds riding on buffaloes. The egret has been introduced into many countries as it is an effective biocontrol of many parasites of cattle.
There is a downside too to this bird, as it spreads diseases among cattle.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Aloe Vera, the Gardener's First Aid

These days, many of the beauty products and soaps contain Aloe vera. Aloe vera is thought to help tone the skin, shine the hair and generally enhance the beauty of a person. The Sanskrit name of Aloe vera is 'Kumari', which means "girl"- an apt name because in Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine, the herb is used extensively to treat the beauty problems of young girls. It is used to treat pimples (acne) , blackheads and other problems of the skin. The gel which you get when you cut an Aloe vera leaf is used to treat sunburn, herpes and sporiases. The gel is also said to help diabetics when taken internally.
Whenever I have a cut or a brise while gardening, I apply the gel from an Aloe vera leaf to the cut , which seals the cut so that no infection can take place.
Although it is originally from Africa, the Aloe vera is extensively cultivated in many parts of the world.