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 !


  1. Hi there, it was good to get an update again, and the photos were great - I love the different looking ladybirds with the zigzag pattern. that is also a beautiful butterfly, so nice to see different butterflies from around the world. My hubby has been finding so many butterflies on the cosmos in my vegetable garden and got some great shots which I posted on my blog.

  2. Yeesh! I totally forgot about my beautiful Red Pierrot butterfly when I went around telling everyone that I don't have any butterflies in this post. That's what happens when one starts a post about 3 weeks ago and can't publish it. Thanks for reminding me, Africanaussie :)

  3. Wonderful pics. I love the pentas too. The pink in my garden is doing fine.

  4. Sunita, I noted the butterfly which you didn't seem to realize was here. Maybe it was attracted to your blog and came by on its own.

    The bee has some blue tinge on it which seems really unique. Your lady birds are even more unique! You can see the zig-zag ladybird on my header but I haven't seen them in that color. I have some bright yellow ones though.

  5. Thanks Keats, I was late to appreciate the colour boost that pentas bring to the garden. Now I love the way they attract bees and butterflies too. who says you can't have it all?

    I'm so embarassed, One. I can't believe I forgot that butterfly. And it's one I really like too.
    According to Google, the Blue Banded Bee is an Australian native. Maybe its sightseeing here in India. ;D

  6. Will try and get a copy of the book. Thx for recommending it. Lovely pic n colours on your blog. U too, Enjoy the summer spell ahead....

  7. Thanks, Radhika :)
    And, hey that's great, do let me know how you liked the book, okay?

  8. Summer is a beautiful time in you garden. The bees are buzzing and one of them is doing a somersault. If I am a butterfly, I will go on a sightseeing trip to your garden too. It is 2 weeks school holidays here too. Happy holidays!

  9. Summer is definitely interesting here. I get to see a lot of birds as the queue up at the birdbath. And yes, the bees and butterflies are definitely very active now too. Buzzing with activity! :)
    We're at the end of 2 months of school holidays here. Good times. Enjoy your holidays, Autumn Belle.

  10. WOW! How beautiful photos i am very inspired from your blog..
    Thanks for sharing with us..

  11. Your comments about the insects and birds in your garden are so entertaining and the photos are great--such colorful fauna.

  12. Hi Sunita, i like those ladybug design, havent seen it yet here. But those pentas, i have some colors too. You should see my new post of butterflies on pentas!

  13. You have beautiful butterflies in your garden! I love the zigzag ladybugs too, I don't think I have seen one like this before. Thank you for coming to my blog, I am very happy to meet you.

  14. Oh, Sunita, I DO love your red pentas and the visitors that swarm them. Such wonderful friends in the garden. And that butterfly is most unusually patterned with bright colors... we don't have that one which makes it doubly fun ...seeing butterflies from your region.
    Do get those young ones busy with nature and gardens ... heat or not it will be a great summer for you and them! Glad you're home again. Enjoy.

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  16. Thanks, Dogwood trees Tennessee :)I think that's one of the things I love best about blogging ... so many blogs from all over the world sparking ideas off each other. Love it!

    Aren't they such fun, Carolyn? I'm constantly entertained by the myriad shapes and colours of our garden creatures. Ma Nature really has a creative streak!

  17. They really are different from the commonly seen ladybug-look, aren't they, Andrea? I found them snuggling down under a sheath of banana leaves. There were so many of them that I think it was some ladybug convention there!
    Coming by now to take a look at your pentas blog ...

    Thank you, Masha :)
    This one was new for me too. I have never seen Red Pierrots in my garden before but I really like them. They look so dramatic.

  18. I know just what you mean, Meems. For me half the fun of coming over to your blog is seeing familiar plants and settings and then out of nowhere suddenly up pops a totally new creature or plant... intriguing!

  19. Yay, its raining. You must be enjoyed the smell of the earth after the rains. I miss that so much.

  20. Hi Lubna :)
    Oh yeah, that fragrance of freshly rained-on earth is one of m most favourite. Love it!

  21. Hi Sunita, that Penta with the blue banded bee is very striking and beautiful. I grow pentas and the blue banded bees are welcome visitors in my garden. Love the colourful butterfly. Never seen these "contemporary" ladybirds. As you say they are welcome in any attire. A crow with interior decorating skills, where has the world come to. Lovely, interesting post. Sunita, I take it a bit easier with posting, no more memes; only one like "Sepia Saturday" on Titania Everyday. All the best and thank you for your comment. T.

  22. Hi Trudi. I don't blame you for taking it easy with posting. It does end up taking over the entire day sometimes, doesn't it?
    I was surprised to see the blue banded bee in my garden. I don't recall ever seeing one before and then I read that they're native to Australia. I wonder how this one got here?

  23. First time on your blog, and I love it! Beautiful pictures! I can't imagine how you manage to have such beauties in garden in must be having a huge space.

  24. Hi Neha, so glad you found your way here :)
    I'm convinced that Bombay/ Mumbai is one of those magical places where anything is possible. Yes, I do have a big (by Mumbai standards) garden . But then I also garden in a typical Mumbai apartment where I have to fight for space for my plants ... anything's possible! :D

  25. I love that pentas flower because of its radiant color. No doubt why bees love to suck it's nectar. Bees love it too.

    Lisa from guitar-lessons-motivating-desire

  26. Oh yes they do, Lisa. No wonder the pentas are one of my favourite plants too. Easy to grow, cheerful, vibrant colours and bee-attractants... that's a great combination :)

  27. hi sunita,

    i live in a house in mumbai and my bedroom window has a bad view of a "nallah" located on the backside.

    what trees / plants could i grow in my yard to block the views ?..i live on the 2nd somthing that grows quickly & would give some privacy !

    thanks !

  28. hi sunita, i forgot to mention the growth should be narrow..

  29. I am so excited each spring when i see those tiny buds and blooms peeping their heads up from the soil! I reminds me of those evenings sitting on our front porch watching butterflies whirl and spin. I love this plant. I've ordered 2 and not one has ever came up. Do you have any tips on where they would grow best? Perhaps my soil has too much moisture in it?


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