31 July 2010

The foxes' wedding and the monkeys' dance

It was one of those times when it's raining and the sun is shining at the same time. As kids, we were told that this is known as the foxes' wedding and the monkeys' dance. The light cast on my philodendrons and firebush was so beautiful, I had to try and capture it.

I got a good approximation with the philodendrons.

But I'm not sure I got close enough to the real thing with the firebush.

26 July 2010

Unappreciated stalwarts - instalment two

I have another strip of  'garden' -- two long beds along the driveway of our building and a corner with huge palms, planted with calladiums, an agave and what I call maranta but I've been told is another calathea. The plants here are also doing well -- though I haven't given them much thought lately. I do regularly feed everything, check for pests and spray soap solution as needed, so they're not neglected and do reward the attention.

Heliconia and monstera

Monstera and schefflera

Spider plant in a box

Star jasmine

I have recently replanted the area around the palms so it's looking bare. That's why I haven't photographed everything together. I hope that once the calladiums are well established, this will be a pretty corner.
Maranta or calathea


Agave hidden by the maranta

Unappreciated stalwarts

All the while I've been lamenting the slow progress of my vegetable plants, other plants in my garden have been thriving, unseen and unsung. I did post a picture of the coral vine the other day, but only today I noticed what a lovely group it makes with two draecena growing next to it. Another corner of my (tiny) garden has a group of ferns --  that make a better picture than the one I've taken.

Coral vine and draecena

Fern corner
The unsightly wall behind the ferns is to be painted. I hate to think about what this may mean for my plants. I can sacrifice the clinging ivy but it will be hard for the painters to get at the walls without harming the other plants.

The curry leaf plant is also thriving and, although the crown of thorns plants next to it remain stunted due to lack of sun, they flower all the time. 
Curry leaf, crown of thorns and fern

The vegetables are still struggling gamely. The tomato plants are growing tall, trying to reach the sun, and the cucumber plant has reached the grill enclosing the balcony (the picture will show that I don't have picturesque backdrops for any of my plants). I didn't have the heart to pull the cucumber away from the grill today but will have to prevent it from shutting out the sun for the other plants. Will rig up my own support since the carpenter has clearly abandoned us.

Tomato and cucumber reaching for the sun

The chili plant gave a good harvest today, just before it's jettisoned for the new lot I plan to start soon. Perhaps knowing this, a stray tomato plant is growing vigorously in the same pot as another dying chili plant. I will give the tomato its own pot tomorrow.

Chili harvest

Tomato usurping chili plant's space

23 July 2010

Cucumber travials continue

I rescued the last-standing cucumber vine from a fate similar to that of its peers with a timely spray  of neem soap solution -- spotted tiny black flies and dying leaves just in time. The plant seems to be thriving now and has lots of flowers. But some are dropping off. A quick check on the Net revealed that this may just be the male flowers dropping off after pollination. Or maybe not. The trick is to identify the female plants, which apparently already have a tiny cucumber at the start, and hand pollinate them if necessary. While I have seen bees buzzing around the plants on my balcony, I thought I'd try hand pollinating just in case. But the flowers that seemed to have a tiny cucumber are either already closed or are still buds. I will have to check on them several times today to find out. Didn't know cucumbers would  be such a trial to grow. Raj Panda and others seem to get marvellous results without any of these tribulations.

The pics below show the cucumber flowers against all the mess in my balcony. A carpenter doing some work in our house was supposed to make a mesh for me, which would have hidden some of the mess while giving the vines support. But he has disappeared after my husband told him off for some transgression. I'm not going to have much luck with any aspect of the cucumbers it appears. 

Meanwhile, the lack of sun has made my other vegetable plants so drab and listless that the least said about them the better. But to make up for it, some flowers in the garden are doing well even without much sun.

Impatiens on the patio with dancing lady begonia, pepperomia and philodendrons

Coral vine

Mandarin orange buds and fruit

04 July 2010

Black and white butterfly, collapsing cucumber and other tales of sorrow

The beautiful black and white butterfly below landed on our mandarin orange tree and has stayed put there (if anyone knows its name, please tell). We don't know if this is normal but are worried because other winged creatures, a moth and a wasp, have come to our garden to die. It looks like there's some winged-insect Chernobyl near us.

You can see the awful state of the garden wall, which the clinging ivy must have made worse. It's to be painted soon -- I don't want to think about what that means for my plants.

Meanwhile, the cucumbers are another worry. I seem to be losing a third plant, leaving only one out of four. The picture shows the two surviving plants together, sick and healthy. I don't know what is attacking the cucumber plants; none of the other veg plants seem to be affected, including the poi saag right next to the cucumbers (touch wood). The lower poi saag leaves are as big as my hand although they don't seem so big in the picture. In these pics you will also see the ugly a/c compressor and pipes that take up much space on my small balcony.

The  curry leaf plant is also doing well. I'm keeping an eye on it because its predecessor developed deformed leaves (not that I will know what to do if that happens again except grieve). All my plants have a difficult time because of the lack of sun in my garden. The balcony gets more sun but not in the monsoon, which in Bangalore means day after day of clouds and rain. The tomatoes are just about holding their own in these circumstances.

Maybe to relieve all this gloom, the violets and evening bells are making an appearance:

BTW, if I call any plant by the wrong name, do let me know.