Saturday, February 10, 2018

Choices for a gardener

The Urban Gardener

So what's new in your garden this year?
Is that a bit late in the day to ask, actually? Well, never mind. I've always gone by the start of Spring as the real new year, so mid-Feb is not too late in my opinion.

This past one year saw me travel a LOT! Then we decided to jump headlong into yet one more new adventure (more about that soon!) which took me away from my blogging, though I had sworn that that was the year I would catch up with my 50+ posts a year.
There's still hope for 2018!

Which made me think this pic of the Striped Tiger butterfly on the Lantana would be the perfect one to lead into this post. Can you think of anything else as garden-y which travels all over the place? (I could think of several vines ... the Thunbergia grandiflora, for one ... which do that too. But I'm sticking with this).

And I love to think of how this much reviled weed has the birds and the butterflies and several more beneficial insects, in love with it! I wouldnt mind letting it take over large spaces just so long as it can get some butterflies to sit still on it.
That's a choice I would make, knowing full well that most of my farmer friends in our neighbourhood think I'm crazy!

Like these Red Pierrots! I have a Kalanchoe planted here and that probably attracted them here. Did you know that the Kalanchoe is one of their host plants? So if you see something weird going on under the surface of a Kalanchoe leaf, dont dump your plant yet. It's probably a Red Pierrot larva busy at work, eating healthy to grow strong beautiful wings.

I know! it's a tough decision. Your lovely plant or these oh-so-pretty butterflies? I very often choose the butterflies. Because a garden without butterflies is just not worth the name, don't you think? But then, the Kalanchoe in bloom is so pretty too!
Choices, choices ...

Some choices are forced on us. Up until a couple of years ago we didn't have a single squirrel in my garden. And this was amazing considering how many fruit trees we grow. The dogs always worked hard at chasing them away and the Black Kites did their bit too. Then, when our old dog, Salsa, died that was the end of the squirrel-chasing. The other dogs just weren't interested. The squirrels have taken over the garden now and I keep finding half-eaten passionfruit and chewed coconuts and other fruit littering the ground.

I always thought that I grew enough for both us and the animals but these squirrels have forced me to reconsider that! Again, not an easy choice because I grew up in a house where we would regularly find baby squirrels that fell out of their nests on the trees and promptly started taking care of them.
Tough choice then, to start thinking up ways to drive them away.

And there are some times when you can just sit back and enjoy the moment. Such as those serendipitous moments when a gorgeous scarlet-clad dragonfly, with the sunlight glinting off its wings, chooses to perch on a twig (in this case, a root from my Pink Cassia that toppled over last monsoon in the super-heavy rainy days) right in front of you.

Simple, pure enjoyment.
That is part of gardening too!

And, even better, the Pink Cassia that I love has started sprouting leaves again and is currently growing sideways, part of its roots in the ground and the rest sticking straight up in the air. It's too heavy to lift up so I've chosen to let it grow and bloom where it has fallen.
A funny choice to many, but I'm happy with it if my Pink Cassia is.

Happiness. Serendipity.
Sometimes great things happen when we just step back and allow them to. That's a part of gardening too.


  1. Hi Sunita,
    Great to hear from you again. I neglected my blog a little last year, as life kind of got in the way. We have inherited my father's house, which is situated in a beautiful woodland, with a large pond and a stream running through the property. He was a biologist and did much to enhance the place for wildlife and we are hoping to continue his good work. I have plans for a wild flower meadow and have taken cuttings and bought various plants that will attract butterflies and bees. So, we hope to share the place with a lot of wildlife. We have similar thoughts to you, as some of the wildlife can be rather destructive.
    I love Lantana, but sadly we can't grow it here. I always search out Lantana when we are on holiday in hot countries knowing that they attract butterflies.

    1. Your father's house and property sound beautiful, Nick! I wish you great joy there. That wildflower meadow, especially, sounds like something I'd love to see sometime once its done. Are you planning to grow only native wildflowers there? Somehow, I find that the butterflies and bees prefer the natives. It must be like a taste that they've grown used to!
      Yes, in India the lantana bushes are always buzzing with activity. The hybrid lantanas are not quite so popular, though.

    2. I find native wildflowers are a lot more attractive to butterflies and other insects than the cultivated plants. So we will be encouraging wild flowers, but supplementing with some shrubs that I know insects love.

    3. I find native wildflowers are a lot more attractive to butterflies and other insects than the cultivated plants. So we will be encouraging wild flowers, but supplementing with some shrubs that I know insects love.

    4. Yes, I agree about the native plants, Nick. I wish you would post about the progress of the wildflower meadow and what you use to plant. That would be very interesting!

  2. Beautiful as ever, Sunita. Your squirrel is adorable but I know they can be real pests. New in the garden this year--if my seeds sprout this spring--will be dozens more plants specifically grown for nectar-feeding bees, butterflies and others. I would love it, too if some ended up being larval host plants. It sounds like I'm just trying to grow a cafeteria, but it's going to be beautiful, too!

    1. Thank you, Mark! Our Indian Palm Squirrel is not as big as yours but they sure eat a heck of a lot!
      Ooh! I look forward to reading more about butterfly cafeteria. You're doing some great work :)

  3. It always improves my day to see a post from you on my reader! Butterflies, dragonflies tropical plants and interesting garden visitors are perfect choices for me to read about while my garden waits under snow.

    1. Thank you, Becky! I love the contrasts in our 2 gardens. Your snow-laden garden is still so full of life . I'm sure the birds, especially, must appreciate it.

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