Saturday, May 20, 2017

We Are in Trouble

Clearly nowhere and nothing is safe:

Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts

We need to face climate change and address it because it is hard to even imagine or keep track of all the ways in which it can harm all of us and all we hold dear.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Summer Morning Walk

This time of year is in some ways a bit of an interlude in gardening here in North India. From late April onwards the day-time temperatures tend to hover decidedly above 40°C/105°F and there is very little precipitation before the onset of the monsoon in late June. In the face of these conditions, the cottage garden annuals and bulbous plants that are the stars of most Indian gardens and parks during the winter and spring - think sprawling expenses of petunias and annual phlox, nasturtiums clambering everywhere, blocks of fragrant stocks, whole armies of enormous dinner-plate dahlias - rapidly wither away. Their replacements - zinnias, cockscomb, Madagascar periwinkle, and so on - do not really kick in until the rain. The only time that is really pleasant to be outside is early in the morning. Even so, there are quite a few things in bloom. Yesterday morning I managed to get out early and take a walk around Lodi Gardens, one of Delhi's oldest and most elaborate parks, and the surrounding fairly posh area and there was plenty of vegetation looking its best.

A Pride of India or jarul tree (Lagerstroemia speciosa), the crape myrtles much bigger cousin, on a quiet residential street

A close-up of a jarul inflorescence

Shady green at the entrance to Lodi Gardens

Bonsai are really popular here

In the bonsai display area

Lots of growth in the herb garden this time of year

Gorgeous shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet)

Curcuma aeruginosa blooms with the emergence of the leaves 

Bauhinia tomentosa unfortunately only looks this lovely early in the morning as the flowers quickly wilt in the heat

Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac), now in bloom along many of the gardens' paths

My own little balcony garden is muddling along - the first plants I bought are finally beginning to take off; it seemingly took them a month to adjust to their new surroundings. Later additions are still not really doing much and many seedlings, contrary to what one would expect with eat and attentive watering, are growing excruciatingly slowly. As always, learning to garden in a new place brings new experiences and challenges.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Book Purchases

I was ordering something from Amazon the other day and was a few rupees short of the minimum amount to get free shipping. So what did I do? I added two Hindi gardening books to my order, Bāgvānī kalā or "Gardening Art" and Vārṣik bāgvānī or "Seasonal Gardening", both by one Prabha Bhargav.

The two new additions to my gardening library

Sample pages, some in black and white...

... and some in color

Like most Hindi books, and especially Hindi non-fiction, these are modest productions sold at a much lower price than local English-language works. Even so, I like getting these kind of books, just as I try to pick up local gardening books most places I go. Compared to the gardening books on offer in the US and some larger European countries like the UK, France, and Germany, in many other places they are fewer and less commonly available - and what is available are often British works, regardless of how ill-suited their instructions might be to the climate and other conditions of that place. For me that makes books like this treasures of  a sort because they actually reflect the local, even if they might seem quite basic.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Spring Garden Visits, Continued: Katz'scher Garten, Gernsbach, Germany

I have posted about the Katz'sche Garten, the historic garden now filled with botanical rarities and Mediterranean vegetation in my German hometown of Gernsbach before several years ago. Since then the collection has grown, the garden has become a bit more elaborate still, and a book documenting its development and extraordinary plantings has been published. I went to have a look on one of the first days after the garden reopened for spring and the winter coverings had been removed from the most tender plantings. This was in mid-March but the garden was already quite lovely.

 The central parterre with Magnolia x soulangeana just beginning to bloom

Edgeworthia chrysantha in full bloom

Just a small part of the palm collection...

... and more palms, with part of the old town in the background

Spring bedding

'General Coletti,' one of several camellia varieties at the shady end of the garden

Along the river bank

Musa basjoo leaving out

Throngs of narcissi

It is strange to think that I remember when this garden had not yet been resuscitated and to see how far along even truly daring plantings like the Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis), agaves, and eucalyptus have come. All the more impressive that this is primarily the result of a citizen's initiative and volunteer work, and that it continues to be free to the public.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Rice Update

Nothing to report really but the rice seedlings have grown a bit so I thought I would post an update.

Three of my little rice seedlings - please excuse the makeshift pot, I did not have any other waterproof container on hand. Also, recycling!

The rice, incidentally, it is one of the only things that is growing with any sort of speed. I am quickly learning that even in this extreme climate - or maybe precisely because of the intense heat - warmth and water alone do not necessarily produce strong growth, especially in seedlings, cuttings, and recently transplanted saplings. On the other hand, the speed with which some of the established plants around the neighborhood put out flowers or new foliage as the season shifts is truly astonishing - it seems as though the amaltas or golden rain trees (Cassia fistula) and gulmohar or royal poincianas (Delonix regia) have gone from no discernible flower buds to full bloom in a matter of days,