Saturday, October 21, 2017

Historic Environmental Destruction and the Struggles to Repair It

An interesting article about efforts at reforestation under the challenging conditions of Iceland:

Vikings Razed the Forests. Can Iceland Regrow Them?

Perhaps particularly worth considering in light of all the massive damage we are doing right now...

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sobering and Scary

Because the vital importance of this really cannot be overstated:

Warning of 'ecological armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers

We need to a lot better, both in terms of habitat protection and restoration and in curbing chemical use, and we need to do so now.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2017

Here we are already another month later and as usual I have no idea where the time went!  My little balcony garden here in Delhi has been doing ok - cooler temperatures are invigorating some plants, and throughout the city the planting of annuals that takes place in the spring in temperate climes is under way for the exuberant floral displays that characterize gardens in northern India through the winter and spring months. However, for other plants the plummeting humidity and return of the dust after the end of the rains appears to have the opposite effect, and on my balcony plant growth at this time of year is further hampered by the fact that that direct sunlight is largely blocked by the surrounding buildings as the fall sun remains comparatively low in the sky. Nonetheless, a few things continue to bloom quite nicely, and I am adding seasonal bits - like the poinsettias that appear in nurseries here around this time, perhaps in time for Deepavali - here and there.

View westward along the balcony

Four o'clocks and poinsettia yesterday at dusk

One of very few but very double balsam (Impatiens balsamina) flowers I managed to get this year

A little male bitter gourd flower (Momordica charantia)

Double butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea)

The last little bit of my rice harvest from the one plant that made it

To see what others around the world have blooming, make sure to visit May Dreams Gardens.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Blueberries, Farming, Michigan

This is from a few days ago, but I just got around to it and thought it was interesting:

The Fruits of Covert

It was also nice for once to read something about the state where I spent my high school years that was not just depressing or upsetting...

Friday, October 6, 2017

Rice Update

Growing rice continues to throw up new challenges. After my very last rice seedling here in Delhi finally developed nicely and headed perfectly a little over a month ago, I thought I was finally in the home stretch. Then last week while I was out during the day, some animal - my suspicion is on one of the monkeys that occasionally clamber over the walls, balconies, and roofs of the neighborhood - decided to rip up anything grass-like in my balcony garden. Nothing else was damaged at all, but my lemongrass was shredded, some freesia sprouts were torn, and about half the shoots of my rice plant were ripped off, just short of properly ripening. The culprit did not actually eat them or take them along, so I was able to collect them, but of course many of the grains were still green.

What is left of my rice plant now

Hopefully the remaining panicles will be able to ripen without further disturbances. However, the fact that the balcony hardly receives any direct sun by this time of the year is probably slowing down the ripening of the grains.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Why Genetic Diversity Matters

Yet another interesting article to drive home the point that biodiversity and crop genetic diversity ought to matter to us all:

A Battle to Save the World's Favorite Treat: Chocolate

Also, check out that beautiful rainbow of cocoa pods!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2017

It is hard to believe that yet another month has passed - and I think the plants in my little balcony garden feel similarly, because there has not been much change since the last Bloom Day. For the most part, the same things are blooming now that were blooming a month ago. The one notable development is that my rice plant has begun heading. Now I just hope I can keep ants and birds off it long enough for the grains to ripen.

My tiny little mālatī (Aganosma heynei) has been flowering for weeks now

My one surviving African marigold (Tagetes erecta) has produced its first somewhat ragged bloom

The four o'clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) are all blooming now; I was hoping for some color variations or two-tones, but the magenta is lovely nonetheless

The caladium and betel pepper (Piper betle) seem happy

My banana plants have definitely put on heft

One of several fruits on my bitter gourd vines (Momordica charantia)

New panicles of rice

To see what is in bloom elsewhere, check out Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lodi Garden Blooms

This morning I passed through Lodi Gardens, as I do quite often, and quite a few things were blooming just beautifully.

 The Tomb of Muhammad Shah Sayyid

One of many gardenias

Mountain or cassumunar ginger (Zingiber cassumunar) in the Herb Garden

One canna cultivar...

And another, with the Sheesh Gumbad mausoleum peeking out in the back...

... and yet another

A particularly red cultivar of Plumeria rubra - even the leaves have a reddish tint!

View across the lily pond

Some of the flowers of the bright pink Nymphaea rubra cultivar were absolutely massive

The purple and pale blue varieties were much more delicate but just as lovely

The highlight of this walk in the park were definitely the waterlilies. In part because they were absolutely glorious but also because they were somewhat unexpected. I have been stopping by the lily pond and two smaller pools in the park that also have a few waterlilies in them every once in while ever since I first got to Delhi in March; for most of that time the waterlilies have looked rather sad, with a few raggedy pads and only an occasional unimpressive flower. All the more remarkable then that now they make such a wonderful display.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - August 2017

On a complete side note before we get to the flowers, today is also Independence Day here in India. My balcony garden here in Delhi does not have much new going on, in part due to a somewhat lackluster monsoon. Even with daily attentive watering, there is a notable explosion of growth and flowering within a couple of days after every good day of rain we get. Conversely, whenever it has not rained for a week many plants begin to notably decline. We are now in one of those dry spells, and with it has not only come drought but also temperatures rising from day to day. Even so, here are a few things that are blooming these days:

Double butterfly peas (Clitoria ternatea

Globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa), very much the star of the show right now

A coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) grown from a wilted torn branch I found on the street one day

A new addition - the deliciously fragrant mālatī (Aganosma heynei), a native vine that is undeservedly rare in gardens

My two heirloom roses continue to bloom, though in the heat flowers rarely last more than a day, especially if it is sunny; this one seems to be a Bourbon of some kind, the other is 'Gruß an Teplitz'

Hopefully there will be more rain for us in the near future. Meanwhile, see what others have blooming today at May Dreams Gardens.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Indian Travels - Part I: Saheliyõ kī Bāṛī, Udaipur, Rajasthan

A high school friend was visiting the last two weeks, and we did a fair bit of domestic travel. Making our way down the western side of the country, we made stops in Udaipur, Mumbai, and Kochi. Of course saw much of garden interest; one of our first stops was the Saheliyõ kī Bāṛī or "Garden of the Maidens" in Udaipur. Located in the north of the city near the Fateh Sagar lake, this pleasure garden was created in the early 18th century by Maharana Sangram Singh for the women of his court. The garden is renowned particularly for its ornate fountains, including a pavilion in the middle of a bathing tank in an enclosed courtyard in the center of the garden which spouts sheets of water from its roof. This quirky feature is called Bādal Binā Barsāt, or "Monsoon Rain Without a Cloud". While we were, there, however, the actual monsoon was actually in full force, varying behind light drizzle and heavy downpours, which made this water-themed garden appear particularly lush and misty.

A palm-lined path

A lovely door that is probably one of the most photographed features of the garden, based on how often I have seen it on social media

One of hundreds exceptionally lush and sturdy balsam plants, most of which were just beginning to bloom

One of several ornate fountains

Purple globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) intermingling with Thunbergia grandiflora

 A waterlily pond with with an even more elaborate fountain and elephant statues spouting water from their trunks

The Bādal Binā Barsāt pavilion in its tank in the center of the garden

A lovely niche overgrown with bougainvillea in the main courtyard

Due to all the rain we did not spend as much time at this garden as we might have otherwise done, and even with the drizzle and downpours it was quite busy with visitors. It is lovely though, and quite special in its quirky playfulness.

Monday, July 17, 2017

About Town

Just a few pictures from some of my park and garden stomping grounds around town, the result of the most recent walks taken in spite of the sticky heat.

In the garden of the Tomb of Najaf Khan and his daughter Fatima

A close-up of some of those blanket flowers (Gaillardia aristata)

A sea of Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus)

White crepe myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) at the tomb

One of many varieties of Citrus in the tomb garden

View towards the Bara Gumbad or "Big Dome" in Lodi Gardens

A beautiful glazed tile jālī or screen at Lodi Gardens' glasshouse

A section of the historic Athpula bridge in Lodi Gardens

Lodi Gardens' fountains

Now I shall be off to exploring the city some more with one of my oldest friends finally here to visit... :)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - July 2017

Of course I have once again been neglecting this blog - where oh where does the time go! - but at least I remembered Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, and have a bit more to show for myself. My little balcony garden has grown up a bit and the arrival of the monsoon - which has brought more moderate temperatures, even if the rains so far have largely come in spurts separated by long days of drought - has encouraged growth and flowering.

The Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) continues to bloom reliably

A dwarf pomegranata (Punica granatum 'Nana') that I recently added to the collection

One heirloom rose flower, tiny due to the heat...

... and another

Seed-grown globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) getting started

The double butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea), much happier in wet weather

 One basil variety... 

... and another

Also check out what others have blooming at May Dreams Gardens!