Monday, January 16, 2012

finding Happiness in the garden

I had no idea my garden was so trendy! The colour of the year is blooming itself silly in my garden.
Oh yes, feast your eyes on the most cheerful, vivacious colour ever. Tangerine Tango is what Pantone calls it. I call it Sheer Pep!
Doesn't it just put a zing in your soul and a swing in your step? They definitely got the Tango part right. Electrifying!

I think if Happiness had a colour, this would be it. Not the insipid pale-pink kind of happy.
No way! this is the in-your-face, ecstatic to the core, bursting-with-happiness, beaming-from-ear-to-ear, hopping and skipping and dancing, vibrantly giddy kind of happy!

And I'm finding all kinds of variations on the theme all over. Don't you just love this pop of colour? Ornamental Musas have a way of being eye-catching even in a garden crammed with colour. But put them in the midst of green foliage and wham! it just pulls eyes to them instantly.

Any plant which is a butterfly and bird-magnet as well as being low-maintenace, ranks very high on my list of must-haves in the garden. With the lantana you get all this plus cheerful colours too.
I have a wild lantana bush growing in the middle of my vegetable patch . It's grown and grown, like the legendary porridge in the magic pot, till it's spilling all over the place. It takes up a good 10' x 20' (or more ... definitely more) of the space but I'm a bit indulgent with it. After all, it's the perfect spot to lurk near in hopes of clicking butterflies. So I let it grow wider but not taller. I keep it pruned (or rather, hacked) to a controllable 6' height or I would have a lantana tree blocking out afternoon sunshine from my orchids.
The one in the photo above, however, is more well-behaved and is bred to stay humbly close to the ground. And I lovvve that colour!

The Pagoda Flower (or Clerodendrum paniculatum) is another burst of colour for the garden. I love mixing it up with shorter plants and then again, it looks great in masses of its own kind too. Like wave upon wave of orange-red fireworks.
Now picture that against a grey stone wall. Or even a stark white-washed wall. Or with a green grass backdrop ... so dramatic!

Oh, and the butterflies love them too. Do you really need any more reasons?

Need more of the 'shake-awake' factor?
If anything shouts "Drama!", it just has to the Anthurium. This one doesn't exactly fall into the Colour Trend of the Year category, but really ... does it need to?!
I love the glossy, brilliantly-hued spathes that sizzle their way to centre-stage each time. Every time.
And know what I love even more? That they're low-maintenance! At least in tropical gardens, they are. And their blooms last and last and last. Perfect for the busy gardener who juggles a hundred chores every day, don't you think? Happiness!

If bright colours are the trend this year, this must be in the Top 10! I love the uber-bright, soft as a powder-puff bloom of the Wax Jambu. I love the fruit too (naturally!) but the flowers are a great taste of yumminess in store.
Did I say taste? The flower is edible too, as any little kid in tropical lands will tell you. It has a slight sour tang which makes it too tempting to leave alone. I remember raiding the Wax Jambu trees in my childhood garden and nibbling on the blooms. My mom never objected because she loved it too. In fact, I think she's the one who introduced me to this tangy flavour.
The squirrels did protest, though. Long and loud!

It's not just colours that make me happy. Growing my own food puts me firmly on that path too. But it's a bursting-with-pride kind of happy.
Leafy greens are some of the easiest edibles to grow. So are the leafy reds. Doesn't the red amaranth growing among the green palak look festive? Especially in Mumbai with the mellow winter sun gleaming on them? Perfect holiday colour!

This Common Sailor butterfly doesn't have the brilliant colouring which seems to be favoured this year.
Or does he? Once he folds his wings you just might be surprised. Take a look here .
Hmmm.... maybe he's a pirate?

A bit drab, did you say? But then, butterflies embody the Happiness factor in any garden (or anywhere else for that matter). Even a sober Grey Pansy butterfly basking in the winter sunlight is enough to make my click-happy fingers tremble with excitement. Love those colours against the vibrant green of the lantana and banana leaves!

And I love those fake eyes on his wing-tips, goggling at the world. Brilliant! Any attacking bird would be misled into going for those 'eyes', giving the butterfly enough time to break free and escape. I love it when the underdog outwits the bigger, tougher adversary!

But if you want to find pure unadulterated happiness, take a tip from this Psyche. She stuck her whole head (not just her proboscis) deep ... way deep ... into this Vinca, immersing herself wholeheartedly into the moment. Until ...

..... aaaahhhh! BLISS !!!


  1. Hi Sunita! Wow, your garden is so hot. Right now mine is white and cold. Hope you don't mind the link!

  2. Striking colours Sunita and I can see you are having fun! :-) I never knew the wax jamu flowers were edible, I must try them. I adore those ornamental musas wish I had that scarlet flowering one. Happy Gardening in 2012!

  3. What a feast for the eyes on this cold rainy day. Your oranges and deep pinks just brighten me up.

  4. I'm a fan of the Wax Jambu, but have never seen its blossoms as brilliantly hot pink as this one. Neither did I know that they were edible.
    Beautiful !

  5. Happiness indeed :)
    Amazing pics Sunita!
    As an aside - had been contemplating on my current state .. coz I was happy but still it feels different now. Was delighted to read the comparison between the pale pink kind and the bright happiness that this is. Thank you so much for writing it :)

  6. Becky, this is the coldest that my garden gets. It was about 11*C in the city a couple of days ago but my garden gets a lot of chill wind so its a good 2-3* colder. My orchids are not too happy about it but I love the cooler weather in the daytime.

  7. Gardens are fun places, aren't they, Helen?:)
    I've not bothered to try the whole blossom but those filaments are definitely edible.
    The ornamental musas are so eye-catching, aren't they?

  8. I'm so glad, Lona :)
    Feel free to keep visiting any time you want a break from your weather.

  9. Thanks, Anu :)

    Hi Usha! :) I love those hot pink blooms too. They really brighten up my garden!

  10. LOL! I know what you mean, Priya. I just thought that the normal association of soft pink was so suited to a mellow happiness. This orange-red colour though is more young and energetic, dont you think?

  11. Wow, your photos made my day:) Glad I found your blog.

  12. Hi,
    The colors are feast for the eyes.
    Tangarine Tango, what a name!

  13. Wow! I think my contact lenses just melted!

  14. Hi Amithigirl, it's good to see you here.So glad you liked the photos :)

    I know what you mean, gardenerat60. That name fits it so well, doesn't it?

  15. LOL! Shady C look outside, it just might have melted the snow too ;D

  16. What a fun post! I love the vibrant colors too, especially the hot pink Jambu flower. That poor butterfly. I hope it was okay...

  17. Still around after all these years.....

  18. Your blog has been chosen by me for the for the Versatile Blogger award. I think your blog is special. I have linked to you on my “ And the Award Goes to...” post. If you want to find out how this all works go to the post on Plants and Stones and click on Donna. Please reject my first comment it has a mistake.

  19. Another post I loved, as much for your words as the photographs!

  20. OMG! I'm so sorry about the delay in replying. I've been travelling and off the Net radar for some time now. Just got the time (and connectivity) for a quick peek now.

    Grace, that blissd-out Psyche was perfectly okay. When I shook the flower to check if she had died on me, she flew off to another flower and repeated the act! :D

    Hello again, antigonum cajan. I tried using the auto translator to read your post ... must revisit once more :)

  21. Thank you, Becky :)
    I think you and your blog are very special too... my cool-weather fix when I'm roasting in April and May! ;D
    I'm off to check your post now.

  22. Coming from you, IHM, that's really made my day! :)

  23. Makes me happy to see all these wondrous colours. Lovely post.

  24. Bursting with colour and happiness. All this tropical splendor to dream about. T♥

  25. Thank you, Keats :)

    Trudi, there's just as much tropical splendour in your own garden. Love it!
    Isn't it wonderful that our gardens can spark off so much happiness? :)

  26. What a joy to visit your blog again. Keep posting!

  27. Its great seeing you here again, Gowri :)

  28. What colours, Sunita.
    Do visit my blog, an award is waiting for you.

  29. Lovely flora and fauna in your garden

  30. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  31. Thank you for the award, Raji!
    And the colours in my garden are just getting brighter and brighter now that Spring is here!

    Thank you, Stiletto :)

  32. It's hilarious to see Psyche sticking here head into the nectar recesses - such gluttony!

  33. I know, Stiletto, it makes me grin every time I see this :D


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