Bloom Day in a Colombo Garden

Every week I say to myself – write something about the garden!  I’ve been wanting to write about creating a tropical garden, and the joy of watching it grow.  Silly me, I’m always sidetracked by other themes.  That is until today, when, by a lovely piece of serendipity, I came across Hurtled Past Sixty’s monthly update of what’s flowering in her garden.

Those of you who’re bored by plants and flowers, off you  go and visit someone else’s blog, because I’m joining in the fun of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!  I may only have a pocket-handkerchief of garden now, but I couldn’t live without growing something, and experiencing the delight of watching the cycles of life in my patch.

Since the monsoon broke at the end of May, the relief from the heat has been palpable, but other than a handful of magnificent storms with their leaf and flower-shattering missiles, here in Colombo the clouds have often passed us by, or delivered a disappointing harvest.  These last few weeks. we’ve had to water every couple of days or so.

The greatest excitement was created by the black bamboo,  which set a new shoot after every storm.  With each new shooting, the diameter of the stalks has increased, so that my immature clumps are now almost recognisable as offspring of  the Giant Burmese.   There’s been a recent flurry of activity in the Manel bowl, but the real surprise the last few days has been the burst of rosy new growth on the cinnamon tree (and seeing that it isn’t just its’ crunchy berries which attract members of young Hanuman’s family!).


47 thoughts on “Bloom Day in a Colombo Garden

  1. You say “pocket-handkerchief”, I say fantatstic variety, colours, textures & fragrances. A garden is what you make it & how you love it. I’m glad you enjoy it, and shared it for us to do so as well.

    • Making it was a deliberate (and very rewarding) act of creation – especially important here as it is so small, and is such a strong visual element from many places within the house. You know, the lotus bowl just so, the night-flowering sepalika where its fragrance can invade the house, it’s orange handled flowers strewn across the lawn in the morning … So glad you enjoyed it too, Ella.

  2. Beautiful post! Like you I love planting my seeds each year and watching my garden grow. One year I grew a sunflower and my son and I watched it grow well over my head. Then mr. Squirrel came at at that beautiful plate sized flower and I was so mad. My roses are going crazy in the summer heat. It has been fun to watch them.

        • Not feasible this year. We have a couple of days of breezy dryish weather followed by two weeks of rain, and it is not warm enough. We had the first curly kale last night with our lamb chops. Delicious. The potatoes are finished. Last year we had enough to last until Christmas.

          • Glad to hear about the kale, at least. With the short growing season a start to summer like that would have wiped out whole communities, in the old days, eh? Thank goodness you can go to the supermarket … 🙂

    • So glad you’re having success with your roses – Viv, in France, says they’ve had so much rain hers are destroyed for this season.

      Had to laugh about Mr. Squirrel. It reminded me of when I first lived in Toronto. R and I had just come back from Europe, and I was intent on turning our little flat into a home, and no home is complete without a garden … While he was studying, I spent several weekends outside, clearing away years of neglect in the back yard, dug out all the weeds and created a sort of garden bed beside the garage, and carefully prepared the soil, then spent a day planing dozens of spring bulbs. When I went out to examine my work the next morning what did I see? A wilderness of excavations … R laughed – said the squirrels had probably been watching me for weeks, waiting to see what was there for them to eat, and will have snuck out of the trees the minute I closed the door and came inside after planting the bulbs. Poor things, living in that urban wasteland …

      Such scallywags! Do you have the busy tailed grey, or the flamboyant red variety?

  3. I love the colour of tropical plants. You think you don’t need flowers with all the striking leaves and then, whammo, those flowers make you realise you may not need them, but you sure can love them anway.

    • Well, I have seen smaller gardens here, and yes, we often use ‘mens’ size hankies to mop our brows! This back garden is about 15 feet across – the grown up monkeys can easily leap from my bedroom balcony to the custard apple tree above my neighbour’s garage – and the width of the block, about 50 feet (?) wide. By some miracle of good design, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic and in just 18 months is a beautiful place to be, or look at – can’t have much of a wander!

    • You know, my father’s family may have been mariners, but he was a man deeply rooted in the soil, and there’s a strong strand of that in me. I may not be able to sit still long enough to be a farmer, like him, but making gardens is hugely satisfying, and a strong creative outlet for me. Glad you enjoyed the tour Amy. There have been a couple of pictures about other flowers as they came out over the last few months. You might enjoy looking at them if you’re into tropical stuff:)

    • It’s a small water lily they call a Manel, here. The national floral emblem, in fact. I did a post about it a couple of weeks ago – when I saw a bud coming. Yesterday I had three … 🙂

    • Being so few, they certainly are precious. Choosing what plants to have in this little courtyard was agony, Isadore. How to reduce the rich palette of the tropics to just a handful of specimens? In the end, it’s just the colour, and the structure that comprise the garden, the few flowering plants were chosen because they’re pretty well always blooming, and are (mostly) red. I’m very pleased with the result, but it’s taught me a thing or two about what to look for when I’m looking for my next home. Sunshine – I’d give up – well, I’m not sure what, at this stage, but a lot, to have a small patch in the garden that gets 8-10 hours of sunshine. I miss the veggies!

  4. So glad you decided to join in the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day your Mediterranean plants are looking good. I will try and arrange formyoumtomhave some of our rain if you send us some sunshine – Ronnie

    • I wouldn’t mind some sunshine either, Ronny. Some days we’re struggling to dry the washing, so cloudy is it, and so many showers arrive, it’s just that they’re pretty dry arguments at this stage. However, I’m not complaining. The clouds keep the heat at bay, and I’ll take cloudy, drizzly days while they last because we’ve got three or four months of real heat ahead of us, until ‘winter’ arrives in December.

  5. Whoops that came out a bit garbled! Such is predictive text on an iPad. What that was supposed to say was “…arrange for you to have some of our rain…” 😊

  6. Wonderful! I think a garden blog is a lovely idea and might try it myself some time! I recognize some of the plants – bamboo of course, and I also have the red ginger lily (and pink) and what we call the “red dragon” croton with the dark pink leaves (blooms 2 and 6) in my garden. Thanks for all the lovely photos!

    • I can imagine your garden is a riot of colour, full of exotic leaves and flowers – I try so hard to forget about the garden I left behind when I downsized my life … Would love to walk around it with you, Petchary.

  7. Lovely photographs of the flowers… I especially liked the ‘blooms 6’. The orange stemmed flowers are a variety of Jasmine. Reminds me of the tree that was behind our house – it was mercilessly cut down a few years back…

    • Ah, yes, the red cordyline is a stunning thing, isn’t it? And always vivid, whatever the season.

      So sad to hear your Nyctanthes arbour tristis – you might call it the Coral Jasmine, or Harsimgar? Here in Sri Lanka, they call it, sepalika, or in English ‘Queen of the Night’. It’s such a joy, especially when I go to bed, to walk out on to the balcony and smell that musky, sweet, fragrance wafting up to me …

  8. Pingback: A Blooming Update « The Wanderlust Gene

  9. Kasturika is right. That orange stemmed flower is the ‘Parijath” (Night flowering Jasmine) We had a large tree in Mangalore that carpeted the front yard with fragrant blooms in the morning. That fragrance is so intertwined with my memories of home, I referred to it in my memories post! Thank you for walking us around your lovely garden 🙂

  10. Agree with Kasturika above. That flower is the ‘Parijath’ (Night Flowering Jasmine) We had a tree in our Mangalore that carpeted the front yard with its fragrant blossoms every morning, That fragrance is so intertwined with my childhood memories, I referred to it in my memories post!
    Thank you for the walk round your lovely garden 🙂

    • I must add Parijath to my list of common names for my jasmine tree (that’s the common name I give it – remembering Nyctanthes arbour tristis, unless I was using it several times a day, every day for a month or so just wouldn’t stick these days, and indeed it’s Sri Lankan common name too, doesn’t seem to stick!) – because it’s one of my all-time favourites. Well, you can tell it must be, to have scored a place in my handkerchief.

      I’d love to read your memories post Madhu – do you remember when you posted it?

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