Saturday, July 28, 2012

All the World's my Garden

All plants are my plants.

A bad paraphrase of the Tamil saying "Yaadhum oore, yaavarum kelir" : a sentiment that conveys the sense of " All towns are ours, all men our kinsmen."

That's the impression I get after days of walks in the neighborhood. I stop every day to admire the variegated Lantana, carefully planted in miniature sequence with another yellow flower near the railway carriage mailbox.
The enormous butterfly bush waves at me as I walk past it. It must take a good square foot of ground space. I must remember to supply as much when I get around to planting the one that I got from the garden center. Maybe I shall even see some butterflies flitting around the flowers, later in the season.
The lawns are stressed out, turning straw brown. This is the fault of the Scotts lawn monoculture, where they hawk bags of grass seed guaranteed to grow fast, stay green (if watered and fertilized with Scotts fertilizer, naturally). Only, we don't water, neither do the neighbors, barring a few who have installed timed sprinklers, or who bring out the hoses and temporary ones. Our lawn, which is a multicultural experience, composed largely of older fine fescue and some ryegrass, clover, dandelion patches, moss, low growing assorted wildflowers ( I hesitate to call them weeds), has weathered the heat spell with minimal fuss or watering, shaded by the large 'noble' trees on our lot.
Strange but true- I wistfully watched the gorgeous greenery of the Kentucky bluegrass lawns in early spring, but am having the last laugh as I watch those lawns turn to yellow, while our 'sad sack' of a lawn, untidy as it is, but shaded by massive maples and oaks, remains peacefully green in the midsummer heat.
The pines give me a whiff of resin as I pass by. Little solid drops on the tree trunks gleam as the sunlight hits them. I scrape one off and crush it between the fingers. The piney smell becomes unbearably intense,  the finger feels unpleasantly sticky, a simple swipe with a tissue won't do to remove it. It's going to take a good scrubbing to go away.

There's a little fairy garden on the far end of one of the lots. Small scale plants, with a little brown bridge, a couple of arches and (presumably ceramic) toadstools for effect. It looks lovely, even though I see it from a distance of about 5 feet, hesitating to trespass on the mulch to get a closer look. Some day, perhaps I can persuade M to try making one of these. Or not. The charms of the internet and allure of mindless TV beckon over the heat and humidity of digging in dirt.


Balachandran V said...

I have always been perplexed with Lantana. It is a weed that smothers the native vegetation - I have seen its destruction in the sea coasts to the high mountains and grasslands. Yet how beautiful are they! I admire them for their prettiness, like little girls in coloured frocks, huddling close! In our organic farm in Attappady which was lying uncultivated for a long time, the invasion of Lantana was macabre! We had a tough time clearing it, the roots run so deep and the stem is lean whip. Lantana is a paradox. Or is it an irony of nature?

Perhaps you might like to read a poem I had written on similar sentiments:

Balachandran V said...

And - I forgot to add - a most pleasant walk! :-)

Sujatha said...

@Balachandran sir, thanks for enjoying my walk musings.

Invasive plants are like immigrants overrunning the native population. As humans, we try our level best to control them, whether through biological or chemical means. Some start off as decorative plants, meant to be pretty for a few seasons, but overstaying their welcome, like purple loosestrife, for instance. I have a gardening book from the late 90's that recommend its use in landscaping large terrains. A decade later, it's classified as an invasive weed.

I've had my battles with dandelions and thistles in my yard, have come to the conclusion that it's fruitless to do too much herbicide to remove them. I bother with them only when I manage to work up a level of indignation.