Sunday, March 21, 2010

Springing into Summer

It was Spring just the other day, now it looks like Mumbai is leaping and catapulting into Summer. Or are we already there? It's hot enough for it anyway.
In any case, I'm luxuriating in the look of crimson-studded Red Silk Cotton trees lining my road. Bare-branched, thorn-lined, yet so spectacular!

Birds love them! I caught this one with his head buried deep in a nectar-filled flower.
I've read that these flowers are edible and are, indeed, favoured by tribals. I wonder whether I dare try one? hmmm....
( I must add ... these 2 photos are untouched by Photoshop or anything else, except for adding the watermark. So, yes, the sky is that blue and the flowers are that bright red!)

The teak trees are standing tall, freshly leaved (just love that fresh green!) and topped with huge crowns of flowers. Last year's seedpods seem to have escaped the attention of marrauding parrots so far but they have other things on their mind right now.

These parakeets love the vantage point of the still-bare gul-mohur tree... from here they plot and plan and conspire which cashew tree to conquer next.
All of a sudden they whoosh! up into the hot air, a voluble green cloud of loud screeches and squawks. Settling down in a quarrelsome, gossipy bunch to some serious nut-crunching while the cashewnuts are still green.

Spring it is, coos the hidden Koel, sending out lonesome, plaintive kuoooos in search of his mate. His call sends the crows into frenzy, scrambling to find the intruder, this doppelganger in their midst. And hide he must, deep in the densest branches with only his ruby-red eyes to give him away.

Pinks and pastels find their place now.

Now is the time for every bloom, bug and praying mantis to think of changing colour.
Before the temperature soars higher and sizzles everything into a shivering inferno of reds, oranges and everything tropical.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Orchids in winter

I was in the mood for orchids some weeks ago but my mind kept telling me, "it's off-season!"
Winter, or rather, as much Winter as coastal Mumbai gets, still had its grip on us .
It is never Winter as those outside the Tropics know it, yet those bitingly chill winds that roll off the back of the frozen Himalayas are cruel enough to kill or severly damage Dendrobium orchids and the other warm-growing orchids in my garden. I lose more than a few to them every year.
And what makes it worse is that I grow all my orchids outdoors so there is no shelter from those cutting winds. Especially for my Dendrobiums which are tied on to the trunks of various trees. Those I couldn't move even if I wanted to.

Then as I looked around my garden, I found first one and then another orchid in bloom ... good enough to satisfy my craving.
Leading the list was that absolutely gorgeous Dendrobium which had not one, but two spikes full of flowers (top photo).
Then there was this unusual yellow Phalaenopsis, speckled with hot pink.

I quite forgot that this is Phalaenopsis season in my garden! They like a temperature swing of about 10* to initiate spiking and it looks like they're quite happy with what they're getting.

This Phalaenopsis is relatively new to my garden. This is the first time that Phal 'Mini Orange' is blooming for me. I'm trying to picture it in a matte black ceramic planter .... mmmm!
Spathaglottis , one of my never-fail orchids. And a terrestrial, unlike the other epiphytic orchids. This is one of the few orchids that you can grow just like any other garden plant.

And the dwarf hybrids are just as pretty, if not more.

Then, there was this lovely Cymbidium. But I can't claim credit for this one. I must confess that I bought it in bud from a flower show that was on in Mumbai recently. Isn't it beautiful? It was way too expensive but worth every rupee for the sheer delight I feel every time I look at it.

And then, of course, I had this one stashed away in my apartment ... Phalaenopsis 'Winter Carnival' .
How apt!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Celebrating Spring

Holi hai!
Yesterday was Holi, the Festival of Colours welcoming Spring. The festival of exuberance, outrageousness and, yes, of mischief.

Today Mumbai is lolling in the aftermath of an overdose of celebration, trying to wash off lingering traces of colour from hair turned electric blue and ears dyed shocking pink. Executives struggle to cover up neon green noses and school kids scrub at violently purple fingers.

All the while reliving the fun of battles fought. Of clouds of coloured powder flung. And squirting water pistols, and hurling water balloons to *splatch!* so satisfyingly in a drenching burst of colour . Exuberance is the qualifying word on Holi.

How can I leave my garden behind in this celebration? Splotches of outrageous colour are making their presence felt here too.

From elegant mauves and lilacs

to stunningly regal purples,

and blooming in an explosion of fiery orange

streaming into a cool river of green

spilling over in a flurry of shocking pink,

glorying in the golden hues of the sun,

washing the day in passionate reds entwined with sulphurous yellows

trumpeting joy and celebration in brilliant hues

of bright cheery yellows

and deliriously happy sky-touching blues.

Whites and pastels have no place on Holi ... except as an invitation to transform them into heart-throbbingly pulsating colours of the brightest hues. It's celebration time !