One Step Forward…

…several steps back.

This is not a happy post.

Last week I was so thrilled with my garden. I’d planted everything I’d ever wanted and a few things I’d not even heard of and it all looked lovely.

Now… sigh…

The Jacaranda looks like this


The Golden Shower looks like this.

Actually, you can’t tell what it looks like, because you can’t really see it in the picture. All you can see is the stake. But if you look really hard, you can see a dried up stick tied to the stake. Yeah – that’s my beautiful tree.

The gulmohar, which had no reason to fail, looks like this.

Some callous *%&($*&^($*&6-ker went and pulled off all its leaves.

The hedge looks like this.

Those spring-onion type things in the background are lilies which were a gift. I’ve just planted them – give it a day or two and then we’ll know whether they’re going to bloom or die.

Remember that hibiscus, one of the very first things we planted? It blessed us with half a dozen blooms in quick succession, then gave up the ghost and was as good as dead. I’d moved it from the back to the front some weeks ago, hoping it would revive in the direct sun, and it did perk up a bit and get a few new buds. But no flowers have come yet and now its leaves look like this.

The grass is the worst of all. It looks like this.

Now I’ll bet you’re thinking – hey, that actually looks quite nice, what on earth is she complaining about. I’ll tell you. It’s supposed to look like this.


See the difference? Yeah, I know the first one looks a lot better, but see – that’s the mat approach. Ok, if you already know about grass, you can skip this part. But if you, like me a very short time ago, know nothing, read on. So grass can be planted in two or three ways. One is through seed – of which I know nothing. The other is through mat. Mat is usually used for Mexican grass, not Bermuda, and it’s really neat. You just unroll it and spread it out and you’re done. That’s what all the fancy apartment complexes and corporate complexes have. It’s low-maintenance, but takes a lot of water and needs a good dose of chemical pesticides to fix the termite problem it comes with. But Bermuda is known to be more drought tolerant than Mexican, so we didn’t really have a choice. And I’m not sure if Bermuda is ever done in mat, but it is conventionally done in this sapling format – which is why it should not look like the lush green thing in the first two pictures and it should look like the sparse balding thing in the picture above.

The thing is, we still don’t have a gardener. Actually, when we started to do the grass work, a man came knocking on our gate claiming to be a gardener and offering to do the work for us (for the paltry sum of Rs 1500). And Amit sent him away.

So I spent two hours working on planting grass myself and all I got for my efforts was a backache. It’s bloody slow work. Not to say it isn’t relaxing and peaceful and all that – it is. But all the same. We had these three extremely heavy and bulky sacks of grass in our driveway and the nursery we’d bought it from had adjured us very sternly to get it all done in less than 48 hours (while also assuring us that it was quite possible to do so on our own sans gardener). After two hours of tedious (I mean, peaceful and relaxing) work, I calculated that it would take about ten hours of work to get the whole swimming-pool area done. And that meant it would take me at least one week (and two weekends).

But what to do with the grass in the meantime?

I suggested to Amit that we lay it out with the earth sods face down and water it thoroughly and hope for the best. I’d done that with a bit of leftover grass from the initial planting so many months ago and the small patch seems to have happily taken root in our back yard right where it was dumped. Maybe this will take root too?

The thing is, this is not exactly a mat of grass, it’s more like big, uneven clumps of grass torn out of a field and bagged up and sent to us. So when we spread it out (which was itself a good 7 person-hours of hard work) it didn’t exactly give us a flat, level, Wimbledon kind of surface. It is all up and down and clumpy. And I’m not at all sure it’s even going to take root. What if it just withers up and dies? That’s a lot of money and one whole Sunday irretrievably down the drain.

On the other hand, what else could we have done? There’s no way I could have planted all that grass in one or two days. And if we’d just left it in the sack, it would surely have withered up and died.

And now that it’s there, lumpy or not, if it settles down and puts down roots, I don’t think I’m going to do anything more to it in the foreseeable future. The most I might do is to get some more grass and cover up the area I had so meticulously planted. Since it’s not exactly Wimbledon anyway.

Huh. Back to the drawing board. So much for the dream garden. That thumb of mine is still the wrong colour, it seems.

PS: I probably shouldn’t say this, because next week I might have to write its epitaph as well, but for now at least that king of my garden, the Java Cassia (apple blossom) is doing ok. Let’s hope it lasts.

6 Responses to One Step Forward…

  1. Doug Helms says:

    Mika, I’m sorry that things don’t seem to be turning out the way you’d planned. 😦 But there’s still hope. Remember, plants are fond of music. And although you were less than enthusiatic about my suggestion that you sing to your garden (talking helps too…just keep the comments encouraging and assure them that you love them), you may still be able to salvage what’s left of a promising start by piping some music down in their direction, perhaps from a window in your house? Plants (and most animals) seem to thive best on classical music. I’m not aware of any experiments having been performed using classical Indian tunes, such as the recordings of Ravi Shankar, for example, but I know that it’s been demonstrated that they do like the compositions of certain types of Mozart. Also, you once mentioned that you liked music of the Baroque, if memory serves. That, I think, would serve quite well. There were, after all, a lot more plants in baroque times.
    So, in summary, if you have a CD player that you can aim at or plant in the garden, and get a hold of a nice cd of Baroque music, I think perhaps there may still be some hope.

    (Seriously, it’s painful to see people’s hopes dashed, and that picture you posted of what your garden might look like in 20 years was SUCH a strikingly beautiful image. Could it really hurt to at least maybe just give a little music a try?) (Oh, one caution: if you decide to plant the speakers in the garden you must be careful not to over-water them.)

    Good luck! 😀

  2. poupee97 says:

    Doug: I wasn’t taking your suggestions about playing music for my plant and animal life very seriously, but after this extremely earnest and heartfelt appeal… I don’t know, I might have to give it a shot. It will entail buying a CD player, I fear. Western Classical music is not in short supply in my house, everything from Corelli (or perhaps earlier) all the way through to Mahler. Of course, if I play Mahler for them, they might just turn over in their graves. I would. But well… I guess I’ll stick to Mozart on your recommendation. 🙂

    Now – I need to go buy more plants and a CD player.

    As for watering the speakers… lol! I’ll try to keep it in mind.

  3. Just think about it. People in PRISM are listening in on all this and will find ways and means of using it against you one day :-).

  4. I recommend having a gardner, you remember our plants before and after gardner? There is a marked difference for someone with the right knowledge to deal with this. I have realised that gardening is as intensive as having pets.

  5. poupee97 says:

    Amit: Oh my god, I’m so worried now! 🙂

  6. poupee97 says:

    Prakash: In case I haven’t made it clear enough already, let me say in no uncertain terms that I have every desire and intention to get a gardener. I’m not really interested in being my own gardener. I just want the garden, I don’t want to or have the slightest aspiration to do all the hard work. Unfortunately, fate and my dear husband seem to be conspiring against me to ensure that no gardener seems to be forthcoming.

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