A Sunday is for gardening

A Sunday is for gardening. Never mind the heat. There's just a hint of a breeze, and there's cool water, and there's wonder to be found outside!

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Christmas in July!

Following this post on planting a tree that's so essential to Indian cooking, I must go back in time a bit and tell you about a visit earlier this month to a dear friend's house in Missouri City, TX, just a few miles from us in Houston, who veritably loaded up our little car with plants she had been saving for us.

One of these days, I am going to do a blog post devoted to Malar's garden - but for now, see these lovely plants that she and her husand, Julius, gave to us:

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Meet, from left to right: Drumstick, Turmeric, Cardamom, Jasmine, Tequila Agave, more Jasmine, Bay, and Sugar Cane!

SO EXCITED!

Malar and Julius's garden is definitely and uniquely and beautifully theirs - it reminds me of India in its practicality and its choice of plants. And, they were so generous with their pots and digging things up for us (Gardeners tend to be such a great bunch of folks, I might add here). Here are some close-ups:

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This is the drumstick tree, Moringa oleifera, முருங்கைக்காய் -- Murungai, anglicized into Moringa, whose leaves and immature seedpods are used in cooking throughout the world. I had no idea that these leaves are highly nutritious, containing high levels of plant protein and other substances that are good for you. She's a rapid grower and a tree, to boot, so we'll have to think carefully about where in the garden to place her. For now, doesn't she look happy? I can't wait to harvest and eat some of her nutritional leaves.

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Next up is a swath of turmeric - auspicious to have, just for the sake of having, as I have been brought up to believe. She is such a beautiful plant - how can she not be auspicious? I look forward to brewing tea from the harvested rhizomes. She thrives in shade, and I've already planted most of these plants in the front courtyard garden, next to her cousin, Ginger.

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I don't know where Malar & Julius picked this lovely one up - a cardamom plant, also a relative of Turmeric and Ginger. We'll keep her in a pot in the hopes that bringing her indoors over the winter will enable her to flower - and fruit. For the first time in my life, I tasted fresh dill seeds this year - at the ripe old age of 35; I can't wait to taste a fresh cardamom seed! More on this in time to come, I hope.

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A variety of jasmine we Tamil folk know as பிச்சிபூவு - picchi-poovu. Intensely fragrant, delicate, umbrella-shaped jasmine flowers.

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A few bay leaf plants - yes, the ones to cook with!

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An incredible, surprise gift of sugar cane! My better-half is a planner, so many of these plants that eventually need to go into the ground are, for now, staying put in pots.

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I've never felt as lucky in all my life as I do now. It's been just over a year since we signed the papers to purchase this house we now live in. There are a lot of things I'll never be sure about in my life, except for this one: going into debt to care for a piece of land and a garden was totally worth it.

See you in Arcadia!

A home is a plant is a home

We garden for all sorts of reasons known and unknown to us. For people like me, who have lived severally in place, gardening with plants from these special places becomes an extremely important link connecting ourselves, the plants, and that sometimes elusive place called Home. Meet Kari leaf tree, Murraya koenegii - the one plant that is most likely to be found in an Indian household, if any is to be found at all. Here she is, to the left, on our window sill in New York, in 2007:

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Hello, Maypop!

Twas in the merry month of June, I was driving home from...somewhere, and spied what I thought looked beguilingly like the cover of the River Oaks Garden Club's fantastic book, A Garden Book for Houston, and it turned out, yes, to actually be...

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