Saturday, April 05, 2008
Thank God for April. The cold weather is officially over, but we can spend hours outdoors in this season. The best part of living in the Dooars is the amount of time you can spend outdoors in the year.
The cold weather is the time for cultivated blooms, but come April, and you can sit back and watch things grow. March is still 'winter' in this age of climate change, but days get hot because it remains dry.
April is a time of growth and of destruction. The storms that occur at this time of year, the 'Kaal Baisakhi', as they are called here, are like tornadoes. They begin with sudden cloud formations, high speed winds, and, if tea planters and the local farmers are very unlucky, hail! Then the welcome rain comes lashing. Tea garden managers rush out after each storm to assess what damage -- if any -- has been done, and they send up heartfelt thanks for rain. However, I am sure their petitions to the Almighty are peppered with many conditional clauses. It is impossible to find a planter who is entirely happy with the amount of rain he's received, and how, and when, and in what concentration.
On most mornings, I see something in the garden which makes me rush back inside to get the camera. The dark, poky, secret corners of the garden often house shy beauties like this wisteria, which has been growing here for years. Nature lovers have to venture into these corners in the tolerant spirit of acceptance, and be prepared to face snakes, insects, or painful bites from hairy caterpillars!
This star apple tree has no fruits on it now, but offers a nice place to hide in (and to sulk), if anyone should need to do so.
The garden has many little hidey-holes for a child to play in. Our girls have left home now, so I particularly enjoyed having our friend's daughter, Susan, a sunny sixteen year-old, stay with us while she prepared for her board exams. Like all tea garden children she would wander about outside with the dogs, lost in her own world.
One of the things the Mali has learnt over the years is the art of seed propagation in plants which are traditionally grown by other means.
Plants like lilies are generally propagated through bulbs.
Easter lilies always produce thousands of papery black seeds which burst out of tight pods, though we never used to bother with collecting them. Mithoo, the Mali, scattered some of these seeds around, and behold, what emerged was this striking flower, almost a Tudor Rose of a lily, combining red and white so perfectly !