Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vegetable Vampire and Avian Usurper

This is a 50 year old jewel box made from sandalwood. A similar box would now cost around 10,000 rupees. The box is still fragrant , but the boxes now available in the market are usually fake. Sandalwood has become a rarity in its own native land.
This is a sandalwood tree in my garden, which is embraced tightly by the Goosefoot vine. The vine is not the vegetable vampire, but it is the Sandalwood tree that is the vampire!
The roots of the Sandalwood Santalum album make contact with the host plant, here my neighbour's coconut tree, and penetrate the tissue of the host tree,s roots. Much of the nutrition is drawn this way. My neighbour, being an engineer, is unaware of this fact, and has not complained to me of the small size of the coconuts he gets from the tree!
These tiny purple flowers of the Sandalwood become dark berries, much loved by the birds. But it is the Koel, the Indian cuckoo, who has claimed territorial rights to this tree. He helps in scattering the seeds, and I find the seedlings all over my garden.
You can see the black silhouette of the koel in the tree in this picture. He does not build a nest, but his wife lays her egg stealthily in the nest of crows on the top of my tall teak tree. The crows look after the egg and the nestling after it hatches. The koel keeps a constant watch over the nest and guards it against intruders by screaming loudly. He also wakes me up every day at 2.30 in the morning!
You can see better pictures of the Koel here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Watery Wednesday

The river Kapila near Mysore has many attractions, one of which is a coracle ride in its waters. The coracles are just shallow bamboo baskets in which the passengers sit. The boatman then rows them in a circular fashion. It is a very good way to observe birds, as the coracle makes no sound.
If you want, the boatman will give you a spin in the vessel, which is a bit scary. I took these shot from the coracle.Unfortunately, the birds seemed to dislike being photographed by me:(
My thanks to 2sweensaxy for her wonderful meme Watery Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My World- Brooms and Baskets

I found these eco-friendly brooms and baskets made out of plant material in a shop in the Bazaar. The brooms at the centre of the picture are made from the spines of the coconut leaves, and the pale brooms next to them are made from a special kind of grass which grows in the jungle. The baskets are woven from bamboo. The brooms at the extreme left hand corner are the most expensive. They are made from a special grass imported from Assam. These brooms and baskets are essential tools in gardens.
My thanks to Sylvia, Klaus, Sandy, Wren and the Fishing Guy for hosting My World.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thunbergia erecta

This is a floriferous plant native to India and southeast Asia. The blue- purple flowers are beautiful. The plant is the Common Crow butterflies favourite resting place.
My thanks to Lisa at Macro Monday.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Today's Flowers

The purple Passion flower vine has overwhelmed the Litchee tree and giving out its cloyingly scented flowers. Since the Litchee tree seems to be uninclined to set flower, I am content to use it as a support for the vine.
The Elderberry bush is full of these huge clusters of tiny white flowers. The inflorescence seems to be a favourite place for small spiders and mantids.
This red ginger is a native of the Western Ghats. The Western Ghats are a series of thickly forested mountains on the west coast of India, with an astonishingly huge biodiversity. Unfortunately, those rain forests are getting depleted due to mining and other activities. I hope the government will make a determined effort to conserve the forests.
The scent of this Attar Rose evokes memories of my childhood, when every garden had this plant. Now it is no longer in fashion as the scentless hybrid varieties of roses have become the favourites of people here.
This is a double Alamanda, which flowers rarely.
My thanks to Santilli, Denise, Pupo and Sandy Carlson for hosting Today's Flowers.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Old Bridge across the Kapila

This is the century old bridge across the river Kapila near Mysore. It is no longer in use now. There is talk of making use of the bridge to exhibit ancient trains. You can see some of those old trains on it now.
My thanks to James for hosting his wonderful meme Weekend Reflections.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Skywatch Friday -Where is the Monsoon?

After a few showers, the monsoon rains seem to have disappeared. I hope they return soon, or this river Kapila , which was flowing full last week, would soon go dry.
My thanks to the team of Skywatch Friday. You can see fantastic sky shots from all over the world here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Friend of the Gardener- Mantis

The Mantis is sometimes called mantid. It is thought to be evolved from the proto- cockroach.
Sitting quietly on the flower or foliage, it waits for its prey.
Its defence is its colouration, which camouflages it. This orange and black striped mantis on the marigold can hardly be seen.
The mantis is called the 'Praying Mantis', because of the position of its forelegs, which are usually held as if in prayer. In my pesticide-free garden, it is one of the important biological control of pests.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My World Tuesday- Sweet as Sugar

The Krishnarajendra Market in Mysore has stalls where spices and Jaggery are sold. This is a jaggery stall, where golden cubes of the unrefined sugar are sold. Jaggery is called Bella in Kannada, and Gud in Hindi. It is made in the sugarcane fields by the farmers, by boiling the sugarcane juice in huge coldrons. Gud is used in making many of our traditional sweets. Since it is unrefined, with no chemicals added, many people prefer it to refined sugar.
There are special bricks of gud to which medicinal herbs like ginger have been added .
My thanks to the team of My World Tuesday. To see interesting photos from around the world, please go to

Monday, June 20, 2011

Macro Monday

I found a V of electric blue on the leaf of a Snake jasmine plant. I am not sure about the name of this butterfly. It is not common in these parts.
My thanks to Lisa for hosting Macro Monday.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Today's Flowers- Mussaenda

Mussaenda is a flowering bush native to India and Southeast Asia. In the garden it can be kept as a bush or made into a small tree. It flowers constantly through the year, without needing any special care. The flowers are tiny, but the brightly coloured bracts are much bigger and profuse.
The white Mussaenda .
The hanging bracts of the pink mussaenda remind me of a butcher's shop. I always refuse my friends' offer of cuttings of this plant.
This is the wild mussaenda, the mother of all mussaendas. I took this photo in the forests of Western Ghats.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weekend Reflections- Flower Market

Whenever I go to Mysore, I love to visit the flower market there. The colours and scents of the flowers gladden my heart. In the image above, the bright orange flowers of the Kanakambara flowers (Crossandra) are in a heap beside the heap of the fragrant white tuberose blossoms.
Nearby is the vegetable market with heaps of chillies and ginger, with their pungent smells.
My thanks to James at for hosting this wonderful meme.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Skywatch Friday

Is he thinking of the gloomy days ahead?
You can see great shots of the sky on

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Garden Lizard, a Disappearing Friend

The garden lizards Calotes are no longer common in urban gardens. I found this female one in a weedy part of my school garden. These lizards are friends of the gardener as they eat a lot of the insect pests. The male Calotes becomes a bright red during the mating season. It was common to see them doing their 'push ups' to attract the females, on stones and rocks, but now they are nowhere to be seen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gardenblogger's Bloom Day, June 2011

All the plants seem to be rejoicing the monsoon rains. The common Ruellia is also putting out its red flowers in my garden.
The fire engine red of the Passion flower cannot be captured in all its passion by my camera :(
The Ixora bush is full of blooms. Ixora is named after Ishwara, who is also known as Shiva, as it is offered at the temple.
This native orchid Aerides crispum, is named after Sita, the heroine of the ancient Hindu epic, Ramayana. It is called Site dande, and Sitechi Veni locally.
The Bird of Paradise flower Strelitzia is named after a queen, befitting its elegance and beauty.
My thanks to Carol for her beautiful meme every month.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My World- Mysore

One of the most beautiful cities in India is Mysore, with its palaces, lakes and gardens. The gateway to the 100 year old palace has gardens flanking it.
The royal palace, the home of the Wodeyars, who are the descendants of the Maharajas of Mysore , live in this imposing edifice . It is built in the Indo-saracenic style, and houses many things of historic importance.
A marble staue of an earlier Maharaja is placed in this gilded pergola.
Mysore is still very beautiful, but with 200 cars being added per day to the vehicle population of the city, soon it will be as chaotic as Bangalore.
I thank the team of My World for hosting the wonderful meme.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Today's Flowers

Portulaca is a small plant with attractive flowers. They are also called 10 o'clock flowers as they open at 10 in the morning.
Oleanders and Allamandas are flowering profusely in most of the gardens now.
The red Passion Flower is a winner.
The Golden Chalice vine is full of blooms now. The big yellow flowers complement the shining leaves of the vine. Although there are so many of those huge blooms on the vine every day, not a single flower gets pollinated. Perhaps our local birds and bees are not able to do it. Now I have started to pollinate the flowers with a brush, since I am curious to see the fruit.
On the other hand, each and every one of these Four 0'clock flowers Mirabilis is pollinated by the butterflies. I thank the team of Today's Flowers.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Skywatch Friday

Happy Skywatch!
You can see wonderful pictures of the skies all over the world at

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Watery Wednesday

This is the Powai Lake in Mumbai. I had taken this picture two years ago. You can see a man floating on a tyre and fishing in the lake. This was a favourite pastime of the local youngsters , but one day disaster struck, when a young fisherman was killed by a crocodile in full view of his companions.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My World- Menhirs of Cherrapunjee

Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya, India, has the record of being the wettest place in the world. At the entrance to Cherrapunjee village, there is an enclosure where a number of huge stone menhirs are erected. The Khasi people erect these stones in memory of their ancestors. You can see these monoliths all over the state of Meghalaya.
My thanks to Sylvia, Sandy, Wren, Klaus and the Fishing Guy for hosting My World Today.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Today's Flowers- Tropical Lilies

Now tha the monsoons have arrived, my garden is full of flowers, many of them tropical lilies. The one above is the Milk-and-Wine lily Crinum zeylanicum. It is called Sudarshan in India, which means 'Good looking.' Like all native Indian plants, parts of this plant is used in Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine.
Rain lilies Zephyranthes rosea are having a field day now, popping their heads up from all sorts of nooks and crannies.
The Spider lily Hymenocallis littoralis was a favourite of the British when they were here 70 years ago. You can see these planted in old parks, which are still doing fine. This flower is said to have been the inspiration for the tower in Dubai- the Burj Dubai.
The purple Crinum lily has big, scented flowers. The stalk is tall- more than 5 feet.
The Football lily Haemanthus multiflorus is suddenly appearing in unexpected places in the garden. I wonder how they got there!
My thanks to Santilli, Denise, Pupo and Sandy Carlson for hosting Today's Flowers.
Thanks for inviting me to be a guest host, but I don't know how to send pictures to you :(