Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Monsoons ... the agony and the ecstasy

Mystical, magical monsoon in Mumbai makes me go "mmmmmm.....!"

Okay, I was just dying to say that. If it's one mmm too many, blame it on the season. The rain does that to me. Beautiful cooling rain after months of broiling in the heat and dust of summer. So very deliciously divine!

And, I love the plants and blooms it heralds. Wildly beautiful Curcumas popping up all over my garden, driving the bees mad with golden pathways to paradise. Safed musli with its spikes of white blooms. And the luxuriant green curtains of maidenhair fern waving from every wall and stone. All growing wild, but as welcome as any expensive plant swooped on from a nursery.

And I love the way the monsoon washes the city roads, transforming the lucky ones into tree-enclosed, vine-smothered jungle trails. (The others, horrifyingly, become mini-lakes but let's not go there now, okay? I'm still in ecstasy mode. )
The dust is gone, leaves washed clean and the dirt is entombed in a soft green sheath.
Green. Every shade and hue imaginable. So very energising.... and so very soothing.

The passionfruit vines are smothered in blooms, filling the evening air with its heady fragrance and dreams of delicious flavours to come. Anticipation is such a bittersweet thing!

My dendrobium orchids are in ecstasy mode too now. The monsoons trigger a heady season of riotous blooming unlike anything else I've seen.

And with every blooming season a mascot (or mascots) makes its presence felt. The vincas are awash with butterflies. This Skipper (Tricoloured Flat, if I'm not mistaken?) was the only one that would sit still for me. The others insisted on eating on the run.
A Common Mormon was visiting the Vinca rosea too, flapping its red-and-black dramatic wings.
Those regular, common-place Vincas seen in every abandoned plot of land all over the place are real butterfly magnets. But guess what ... none of those butterflies would even land on the hybrid vincas which I had planted in the same bed for a splash of colour.
Hmmm .... so much for glamour!

The passionflower has its share of hungry visitors too. I was really amused to see these bees picnicking. This once they didn't have to delve deep into a flower to get at the goodies. How very accomodating of the passionflower.
I just wish it would choose to bloom during the day so I could get a better shot, though.

Clicking photos on overcast days comes with its own set of agonies. I wish I could capture the mood and ambience of that beautiful time when we're envelopped in dark rain clouds promising to spill over any minute ( no! we tropical folk are not so enamoured of the sun ). My whole garden takes on a slightly magical look in this light but my Old Faithful, a Canon Ixus which has been with me throughout my blogging journey, has turned temperamental and is on its last legs. I suspect a lens problem and have been advised to get myself a new camera. I know I should but I'll miss this one so much.

Just as I'll miss all those unfortunate plants that have decided to join that great big garden in the sky. The monsoon season can be hell on plants too. Especially when it rains non-stop for days on end.
Which is worse, losing them to death by drowning in the torrential rain or by slow rot or by being blown away by the squalling winds? Or by having a big, strong tree topple over , carrying with it all the little plants that grew in its shelter? Or by being chewed alive by creatures that can't even walk? And those that can?
My orchids, especially, are susceptible to these silent killers which makes them so very squish-worthy.. I may (sometimes, if I'm feeling lazy) turn a blind eye to snails in summer but never ever in the monsoon season! They're Enemy No.1 then.

No, I take that back. They share that spot with another dreaded enemy ... the mosquito. You can't avoid them completely in the tropics but in the monsoon season, they become a ravenous, blanketing force driving me indoors as nothing else can. Which makes me so very grateful for two little garden creatures who are Mosquito Hunters Extraordinare :


Always welcome in my garden. And always a pleasure to watch.
Sometimes agony does give way to ecstasy too, right?


  1. The way you've described sounds lush and exotic. :)

  2. Fabulous photos. Sometimes the monsoonal season can be very harsh and wreak havoc. I do hope things don't get too bad and you don't lose too many plants. I know all about the mosquitoes during the wet season. We have the same problem here. They can absolutely drive you nuts. Love the Curcuma!

  3. My Dil goes 'mmm'mmm'mmm' nice description :) beautiful pics!!!

  4. What a treat! Reading this post is intoxicating. :)

  5. Wonderful!!! you describe the monsoon feeling so beautifully! love the pics! my son loved the one of the snail!! it is his favourite creature of the season, and wants to keep one as his pet!!!

  6. The curcuma blossoms look lovely!

    Here in the Great Lakes region of the US we are having a relatively wet summer, which on the one hand means that everything is green and lush and beautiful - unlike many summers when July/August is a time of dust and wilting plants - but also makes for clouds of mosquitoes.

  7. Oh it is very, very lush, Racquel. Almost jungle-like, actually :D

    Ah, Bernie, I knew those lines would speak to you. Sometimes I think what I have are not mosquitoes but actually pterodactyls!

  8. LOL! Beautifully said, Nupur. My heart does go "mmm mmm mmm" . I love that song, by the way. Or at least this refrain :)

    Its the monsoon effect, Deepa. I'm drunk with the magic of it!

  9. Hey, thanks Anu :)
    I hope your son restricts that pet snail to areas where no plant will ever go. They can be very un-lovable if you have prized plants which are gourmet treats for them.

    Thanks, College Gardener :)
    Oh, I do sympathise about the mosquitoes!I was surprised though that you have a mosquito problem so far north. I thought the mossie menace was restricted to the tropics.

  10. Thanks, Mridula. These pics are the last gasps from my ailing Canon IXUS :(

  11. Oh how I loved hanging out in your post today. We are in the middle of maybe the worst heat wave on record here in North Texas. The idea of any rain at all is a dream.
    Your pictures are just gorgeous!

  12. Your photos still look terrific as always to me. I can hardly wait to see what you can do with a new camera. I'm always delighted to read your latest post!I missed you a little!

  13. Hi Sunita, i love that curcuma and the dragonfly, very cute. It is rainy season here too, and i am amused when you said the streets are cleaned. Have i told you earlier that i have a personal friend in Mumbai, but i haven't been there!

  14. Lovely pictures and describing of your season right now.

    Anna Vattenkanna in Sweden

  15. Oooooh, I love maidenhair ferns. I also love wild Balsam... do you have any growing in your garden?

  16. Thanks, Anil :)

    Amy, quick, make this your home page as long as the heat wave lasts. I'm sure it'll will get you through it. But I sympathise and totally understand how you must feel. I feel the same when we're in the middle of our miserably hot summers and see someone in the far north blogging about snow.

  17. Oh what a lovely thing to say, Becky! I did miss posting here and coming over to chat with everyone but for the last few months my life has been a whirlwind :P
    I'm a bit nervous and excited about getting a new camera. I keep telling myself that if I shake this old one maybe it'll work again :D

  18. Oh yes, I remember, Andrea. Maybe its high time you visited your friends :)
    Whats blooming for you now? I'm coming over to see.

    Hello Anna. Thanks, I'm so glad you liked it :)

    Hi Lubna. Yes, I do have wild balsams growing when the monsoons set in. Aren't they pretty?

  19. Your garden is full of wonderful blooms and creatures! I also like the rain - it makes everything clean and fresh.

  20. After all that heat and dust of summer, I can appreciate the relief you feel from the rain. The surroundings must just explode in color.


  21. So nice to see your post, what a magical time post monsoon. The tree enclosed street is so beautiful, I can (almost) smell the green freshness from here. :)

  22. Absolutely, Tatyana! The rain is so refreshing. It's almost like a brand new world washed clean after it rains, isn't it?.

    Oh yes, that it does, Annelie. It has to be seen to be believed. The entire summer months are spent waiting and longing for the rains. And when it arrives....!

    Thanks, Rebecca :)
    I do love these little streets in Mumbai which take on this magical green-smothered ambience. I wish all of them were like that.

  23. Beautiful post! and gorgeous pics as always Sunita!!
    Enjoyed reading n looking at the pics :)

  24. Your pictures are fabulous like always Sunita. The Passion flowers always look so interesting in pictures. I must grow one some day. The Mumbai is just gorgeous!

  25. Dear Sunita, I loved your comment on my blog! It made me laugh!
    As for Fuchsia, did you ever think about growing it indoors? This is what we had when I lived in Russia -we had fuchsia as a houseplant.

  26. Thanks Priya :)

    Passionflowers are really exotic-looking, aren't they, Lona? These are the blooms of the red passionfruit. The non-fruiting passionflowers are just as interesting and some like the scarlet ones are even more eye-catching.

  27. Tatyana, that's a great idea! I need to make another trip to the hills. That's where I find nurseries which stock up on temperate-growing plants like fuchsia. I'm so excited about trying to grow them as houseplants.

  28. Dear Sunita, loved to read your happy- and woe times when the monsoon strikes. I understand exactly what you mean. After the heat and the dust seeing the sky shrouded in clouds and rain washing all the plants and leaving sparkles and diamonds on leaves and petals. The photos are marvelous and your words make me smile. Thank you Sunita. T.

  29. What a mouth-watering array, Sunita!
    The last one looks like a Globe Skimmer Pantala flavescens--most widely distributed dragonfly in the world.

  30. Exactly! Trudi, you said it so perfectly. I think every tropical / sub-tropical gardener really values those rainy days, don't we? :)

  31. Thank you for that ID, Amila :)
    Well, what do you know? I have an international dragonfly in my garden!

  32. Hi Sunita

    We've been busy here importing ideas from around the world, trying to encourage people to be a little more 'exotic' in their design tastes. See this project in sunny London, with use of many exotics from around the world.

    RDArchitects | London - Lofties House

  33. RDA, how are the plants growing now? Any issues with the changing seasons?


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