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:


With incredibly flavourful leaves that are used in all sorts of South Asian dishes all across the sub-continent (and diaspora), the kari (or Curry) plant is an indispensible culinary shrub.

Karis may be sold in Indian grocery stores when in season, but ours came from my cousin who lived, then and now, up in Westchester, NY. I can't get over how tiny the plant was then, living off the little Eastern light that graced our courtyard-facing windows on the 5th floor in Manhattan.

[caption id="attachment_812" align="alignnone" width="625"]Still so little Still so little - May 2011[/caption]

Even four years later, she was still so little - just barely thriving, although she lost no time in creating a little version of herself (do you see it, above?). Oh, there were many days when that was the entire extent of the world outside the window. Sometimes it was an entertaining world - depending on what our neighbours were doing...


But as lovely and quintessentially New York as it was...

...it was still a lot of brick and just a sliver of sky and sun, in a short season for things to grow. IMGP4872

[caption id="attachment_816" align="alignnone" width="625"] July 2011, with Meenbo, and pickles curing on the windowsill.[/caption]

Still, little Kari tree survived, tough little thing that she is, and grew.

When we piled her and more than a dozen other plants to make the 1700 mile journey down to Texas, we had no idea how much she would flourish and thrive in the Houston sun - so reminiscent, surely, of that same heat from her own Native Land. She very quickly found her place amongst all the other plants, old and new, and grew, and grew, and grew.

[caption id="attachment_820" align="alignnone" width="625"]July 2011, Houston July 2011, Houston[/caption]

And here she is now, 7 years later, in a Home she finds much more hospitable:
July, 2014.

With so many little ones below her, we knew she was bursting at the seams! So, I found her a place to go. Now, as much as I hate taking the axe to plants, I made an exception in the case of this not-very-well-placed oleander, right by the back kitchen door:


I dug her out, roots and all, and in went the Kari tree and all her children, and this is what the space looks like now:


A good soaking, a bit of Micro Life Fertilizer, a solid layer of leaf mold mulch from last year's oak leaves, and Kari is all set to begin her new journey of growth here, at Home. Both my better half and (he noted just now that he doesn't want me misrepresenting him; in Texas, he says, sun is bad) I love how much more sunlight comes through that little area between the house wall and the bed. Spatially, it feels a lot lighter and freer. A good change for a plant from that home country to this one.

See you in Arcadia!