Saturday, April 13, 2013

A New Bouquet

I got some new cut flowers for my little table today, a bunch of single yellow chrysanthemums and another of orange Inca lilies (Alstroemeria cv.). This might seem like an oddly autumnal color combination when spring is just - finally! - kicking into full gear, but oddly it is one I have found myself thinking about repeatedly in the last couple of days.

The leftovers were enough for another small bouquet for the main table, and the last remnants of the stocks from last week now flank my little statue of the goddess Ganga:

 Now off to the next appointment...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Little Green Cactus and Other Spring Additions

The title of this post is an allusion to a well-known song by the German group Comedian Harmonists, active in the late 1920s and early 1930s and also the subject of a 1997 film of the same name, whose title is "Mein kleiner grüner Kaktus" or "My Little Green Cactus", the lyrics of which you can find here along with a side-by-side translation. Why the reference? Well, the song speaks of a little green cactus standing on the balcony, and I just bought myself a not-so-little spineless prickly pear (Opuntia x ellisiana) which now resides in a big clay pot on my fire escape.

My not-so-small green cactus, with some orange Violas for spring color

The spring awakening on the windowsill is also continuing apace, with a lone Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) emerging from in between some eastern prickly pears (Opuntia humifusa).

Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) amongst the succulents

I also added three new plants to the other, hitherto empty outside ledge, namely a Sedum spathulifolium 'Carnea' and two different ice plants, Delosperma 'Kelaidis' and Delosperma 'Fire Spinner'.

From left to right: Delosperma 'Fire Spinner', Sedum spathulifolium 'Carnea', and Delosperma 'Kelaidis'

I have to say, for the moment I am quite pleased with my little "garden".

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Bouquet of the Week

Today while grocery shopping I was torn between some Oriental lilies - that fragrance! - and stocks (Matthiola incana). I eventually opted for the latter because I thought they would look a bit fuller and more impressive.

Stocks are to my mind about as a baroque as a flower can get - lusciously double and ruffled to the point of almost being shapeless, endowed with a unique scent both spicy and powdery, and all that in a range of muted pastels that recall sumptuous silken upholstery.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spring in My "Garden"

In my last post I mentioned a few plants I recently added to my outdoor windowsill and this morning I finally took some pictures:

From left to right: Some Viola hybrids, Geranium maderense 'Guernsey White', and Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard'

Just a close-up

The handful of plants that have overwintered on the windowsill - some Sedums, Sempervivums, and  prickly pears (Opuntia humifusa) - appear to be stirring back to life as well. There is still some more space in front of the other big window in the bedroom, so perhaps I will add some more spring color there.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Winter Travels 2013 - Part 7: A Flower Market in Varanasi, India

Spring seems to be finally here for good, with the temperatures beginning to regularly hit double digits. Crocuses are blooming here and there and on Saturday I bought a couple of pale purple violas which are now literally sitting pretty on my outside windowsill, next to a young Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard' and a small Geranium maderense 'Guernsey White' which I brought back from my recent sojourn to San Francisco. Other than that, though, things are still pretty grey, and so I decided to post another burst of bright color from my trip in January. While staying in Varanasi we went to one of the city's flower markets, in part because one of the girls in our group was studying the grower-to-consumer-to-compost-heap distribution systems for flowers used in religious ceremonies in a pilgrimage center like this one.

Fabulously fragrant roses and jasmine

Piles of marigolds and white chrysanthemums beneath an image of a deity draped in garlands

Marigolds reign supreme

Some pink waterlilies and more marigolds

Foliage dear to various gods - bel leaves (Aegle marmelos) for Shiva and grass for Ganesha

The vast majority of flowers and other plant parts available at the market are destined for the sacred city's ritual life - flower garlands to drape images of gods and goddesses and decorate sacred spaces and auspicious occasions and specific flowers, leaves, and in some cases fruit to be given as part of offerings. However, there were also a few vendors who offered to make purely decorative arrangements more akin to the products of Western florists, albeit a tad bit gaudier.