Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Summer-ful of fun ... and a great offer

If you wondered whether I had melted away in the summer heat, you wouldn't be that far off the mark. 1 month is way too long to miss updating, I know.
First I was travelling all over the place (more about that later), then when I got back my internet connection started acting up, disconnecting every few seconds until I gave up in frustration.
Then, the usual summer work in my garden caught up and I was busy, busy, busy. Not the perfect word to associate with our scorching summers here in Mumbai, I know, but I wonder whether anyone bothered to tell that to this Blue Banded Bee deliriously hopscotching among the Pentas?
(Don't you just love those colours, by the way? )

I'm quite partial to Pentas too. Partly because they're such cheerful bloomers, partly because they come in such vivid colours and mostly because the honeybees love them. Yeah, mostly because of the honeybees ... I love what they do for my plants. This particular plant had about 20 bees (at least) visiting for a leisurely sip. This one looks really deep in the cups, doesn't he? And so early in the morning too!

The crows are nesting. And guess who's got a nursery make-over? Sports-themed too! Can't figure out how she got it so perfectly colour co-ordinated, though.
Can you believe there's a crow in my garden with a flair for home decor?

You want to talk colour? I love this new entrant to my garden. I think these Red Pierrot butterflies stowed away on a couple of blooming Kalanchoes that I bought recently. Don't you just love them ... so dramatic!
Remind me to buy more plants, okay? Who knows which butterfly will follow us home next time?

If there's one bug which is always welcome in my garden it has to be the ladybug beetle (or lady-bird, as we're so used to calling them in India). I think the black-spotted red ones are really cute but I haven't seen even one in my garden (nor anywhere in Mumbai, come to think of it) so I'm more than happy with these Six-Spotted Zigzag ladybugs. Not so flamboyant but they do have a zany sense of style. And I do like their dietary habits! Any bug with a taste for aphids and scales and thrips and other nasties gets a warm welcome in my garden.

Oh! And guess what I found?
A whole slew of 1-day programmes organised by BNHS . I missed the Flamingo Watch at Sewri but I'm trying like crazy to see if I can make it for the trip to Yeoor Hills or even the Nature Trail at Elephanta Island. (okay, I missed those too ... this post has been sitting in my computer for too long! I hate it when my internet goes on the blink ) The mention of all those birds and butterflies have really sparked my curiosity.

So why am I on this hunt for trails when the summer heat normally has me yearning for a cool spot away from any physical exertion? One, because I really enjoy seeing the local flora and fauna in their natural surroundings.
Two, it's the perfect opportunity to introduce my kids to them. Normally school timings and activities get in the way but hey, the vacations are on now.
Three... and most important ... the vacations are on! and if I hear "Mama, I'm bored" or "What do I do now?" just once more, I think I'll scream.

So, I'm hunting up things for us to do together. And the more Nature-oriented, the better. Which is why the BNHS programmes are perfect.
The Trails organised by the Conservation Education Centre sound really interesting too, especially the Leopard Trail. I bet it's a hit with the teens! Me Tarazan, you ... er, Leopard?

And for all you moms (and dads) out there who are figuring out how to get junior interested in gardens and garden creatures and the Great Outdoors, here's this fabulous offer from Black Dog Publishing. They are offering all readers of The Urban Gardener a huge walloping discount of 40% off when you buy their latest book 'Kids in the Wild Garden: Fun Activities for the Great Outdoors'!
That's a sample page from the book in the picture above, by the way.And it's packed with fun projects (well-illustrated and with easy to follow step-by-step instructions) and ideas that kids of any age, from 5 years and up, will enjoy. I think I would love to make one of those butterfly houses with my daughter.
Actually, you know what? I think this is a great book for grown-ups too. I've only read snippets from the book and I'm itching to lay my hands on it.

Okay, all you have to do is to e-mail Jess Atkins ( ) with your address and quote 'The Urban Gardener book offer' in the subject line when you place your order. For UK readers, the price after discount is £ 5.97 and for our US readers it is $9.57 after discount (shipping not included).

And, oh yes, there's one more thing you've got to do .... ENJOY! And do let me know how you liked the book, okay?

(pic. of page spread from 'Kids in the Wild Garden' courtesy Black Dog Publishing )

POST SCRIPT : IT"S RAINING!!! Love, Love, LOVE the rains !