And blinking, step into the sun…

The title of the post is from The Circle of Life. And that’s what I’m going to show you – the birth of the bounty, its riotous crescendo, its waning, resting, and rising up again – in pictures:

May 2015


July 2015


Sept 2015


Nov 2015


Jan 2016


Mar 2016


This is the blank canvas atop of which I will invite reds, yellows, pinks, purples, blues…. The tomatoes, eggplants, and multi-colored bell peppers are already sprouting, while the strawberries, papaya, spinach, and snap peas are considering whether or not to realize the potential harbored in their seeds.


Interestingly, the kale was living in the unusually warm winter until my succulent wall fell and broke it’s stem. At that point, the ground was actually frozen so I could not remove the broken end. And here’s what’s happened now!


Like the kale, the spring plants are waking up:


Gratifyingly, the rose leaves begin red, then turn a luscious green, and finally frame bountiful pink flowers. Meanwhile, the Chinese lilac beyond the rose begins deep purple and, in a few weeks, bursts into pinkish culms. Growth, discovery, appreciation… everyday, “blinking, [I] step into the sun”.


…[L]et yourself be.

For the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture at the PEN festival, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke about censorships: colonial, societal, self… A nuanced firebrand, she made one think; her definition of self-censorship included not just the holding back of speech based on audience, but also the disallowing of oneself to do something based on a pre-set plan. In this regard, she suggested:

“You can’t write a script in your mind and then force yourself to follow it. You have to let yourself be.”

—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun 

I like this challenge. Like the plants in the garden, I hope we can all surpass limitations borne of adversity – whether an earthquake, an accident, or a harsh winter – and grow free.





Ennui and the bee

In the 3 weeks since I posted “An invincible summer“, a miraculous revolution has taken place.

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Despite this, I find I have precious little to say these days. I seem to have come to a point where I find corruption everywhere – even in the gorgeous potential unfolding beneath my gaze. I am already battling aphids and forlornly anticipating mildew, leaf roll virus, and caterpillars. Perhaps, as Zola (“Je n’ai guère de souci de beauté ni de perfection… Je n’ai souci que de vie, de lutte, de fièvre.”), I should learn to love the fight. To guide me arrived the first bee of the season, humming about my pregnant Chinese lilac in the warming sun, as well as the cucumbers, and beans… The other seeds, I know, are gathering for an imminent emergence into a combative world which they will transform through willing hard work: filtration, construction, respiration, photosynthesis. I surely see a lesson in that.

An invincible summer

It’s been a long snowy winter in the northeast. Even today, March 30th, I awoke to a forecast of “currently snowing”, so I thought this quote from Albert Camus apt:

“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”

And here it is, despite the continued wintery precipitation, unstoppable transformation:


March 6th


March 30th


Honeysuckle, unfurling its 2015 leaves

Indoors, getting ready to go out are all manner of sprouts and seedlings – tomatoes, Thai and Genovese basil, Thai eggplant, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, hollyhocks, amaryllis, tulsi, passionflowers, etc. – but I’ve posted only bell peppers & oregano below:


Invincible, indeed, is life.

Time Pass

When you find yourself in South Asia and ask a local, “What are you up to?”, you will often here them reply “Time pass”. And here I am, as a still newbie gardener, passing the time and learning the unique excitement of each day.

The pictures below are from mid-August through mid-October, starting with a vigorously flowering variegated bougainvillea:



Boug set between the floriferous mandevilla and above/next to the multicolored dahlia:


Multicolored dahlia:


Wild morning glory vines above and beyond the rosebush:



The rosebush in it’s magnificent autumn period:



Geraniums, lavender, & hydrangea foliage:


A bee exiting an almost expired passiflora incense flower:


Mexican petunia, in front of the Japanese Umbrella pine, rose bush, and morning glories:


I’ve winterized since mid-Oct and the chill is now here. The morning glories are denuded but, wonderfully, still in flower – a cornucopia of purples and deep and pale blues, each day with something new to give.


The waning flowers and burgeoning berries of of autumn attracted a brown hummingbird and a ruby crowned kinglet. I never knew such things lived in, or passed through, the middle of this big city. In an attempt to maximize appeal to such birds, as well as butterflies and bees, I have made a 2015 plan with larkspur, sweet peas, viburnum, hollyhocks, and more. For now, though, the shrubs are shedding their leaves, the Christmas lights are up, and the heath and heather are en route to crimson. A wonderful fall, indeed!



It’s August 1st and check out what I harvested today alone (almost):



From the top and left to right are 4 poona kheera cucumbers, 3 summer lemon squash, black brandywine tomatoes, ping tung eggplant, thai lavender frog eggplant, & aunt ruby’s german cherry tomatoes. In the second picture, one of my 4 black beauty zucchinis to date. My plant has had lots of yellowing leaves and vegetables dying on the vine; despite that, I got 4 zucchinis this size and have a new one growing well. It seems I was over-watering; knock on wood that I’ve properly corrected my mistake.

I thought I’d also share the present lushness that pleases me everyday:


I’ve listed what’s pictured from left to right. Top row: morning glory vines, bougainvillea, passionflower incense, passiflora caerulea. 2nd row: brite eyes rose, syringa vulgaris with purple million bells, & red begonias, japanese umbrella pine, passiflora incense, syringa x chinensis, mexican petunia, black ornamental pepper, and heath & heather in the wine crate on the right. Last row: lavandula pinnata, lavandula x intermedia ‘provence’, and zonal geraniums.


Pictured here from bottom left to top right are black brandywine tomato leaves, viburnum blue muffin with pink million bells, summer lemon squash, salad burnet, nasturtium with panama passionfruit melon and borage, poona kheera cucumber, lemon verbena, kajari melon with more nasturtium, ping tung eggplant, burmese okra & thai bird’s eye chili, honeysuckle, dahlias, variegated bougainvillea, mandevilla, elephant ear with red million bells and lantana, mintand lemongrass down below, tavor artichoke, blue point juniper, and nasturtium with the bisset bamboo.

The tavor artichoke has been a learning experience. The long spiky leaves have holes & brown & yellow spots. I got 2 nice-looking artichokes, but, being still very much a novice, I didn’t know when to harvest and guess I now just have to let them flower. The bisset bamboo, too, never came back around – I mean the long old canes from last year. Still, I’ve got some nice bushy new growth and great health in the black bamboo (not pictured).

Finally, since they only last one night, here are the 2 best shots I got of one of my only 2 moonflowers to date:



An endeavor in vertical greenery, indeed!

Almost Paradise

If you saw my last post, my garden is doing generally well, but I have aphids out the wazoo and a couple of questions. Hence, this post.

First, the lilac. It bloomed wonderfully, and the foliage seemed healthy. The flowers died, as they would, and then the leaves curled up:


The white stuff is residue milk and baking powder. A few weeks after this attempted treatment, the leaves uncurled; however, it seemed more likely that this was the soil became dry, rather than the treatment. I have since sprayed a few times with neem: nothing happens. I have also left the pot largely unwatered. After 10 days without rain or water, here is what the plant looks like:



To me, the foliage is saying that the plant needs water; however, every time I water or it rains, the leaves curl up all over again. I want it to photosynthesize to its max, and feel like open leaves, despite the black spots, will have a better chance of doing that than curled up. On the other hand, if my plant needs water, I’d like to oblige it. Please, if there are any gardening experts out there willing to advise me, I would sincerely appreciate it! Oh, and yes, it had this problem last year too: May 2013, when I was a ignorant first-time buyer, and July 2013, after I was a 2-month owner.

Second, my passiflora incense. It is new this year from Brushwood Nursery and growing through the lilac. The lower leaves continue to go from green to this:



Anything above the first 1-1.5 feet of its height is simply pure green, healthy, and producing flower buds. I’m unclear whether to worry: If anyone knows whether or not I should and, if so, can also let me know what to do, I’d appreciate it.

Third, aphids: I have them under control on everything except my zucchini:


and moonflowers. For these, no matter how much I spray w/ a jet of water or with neem oil, they keep coming back and stunting the plants’ growth. I’d appreciate any suggestions – especially as my squash and eggplant have just produced blooms:



and I know the aphids are going to attack.

Finally, not a disease, but an interloper.




It is growing with my variegated hot pink bougainvillea. I bought the bougainvillea in the spring of 2013, it lived through the winter indoors next to green-leaved lavender bougainvillea, and then, in late winter/early spring, sprouted something different from the dirt of its original pot. Whatever it is, it is a vigorous grower, so I’d appreciate any feedback on what it is and what I should do (e.g. nothing, cut back, dig up, or repot).

Since this post has been only questions and confusion, I’ve posted some happy pics with which to leave you.

Borage about to flower:


My 2nd dahlia plant beginning to bloom:


The first one, with its relative:


And a trifecta of colors on my treasured rose: