Plants are Amazing

You have to live with them to realize just how amazing they are.

As you might know, we are somewhat extreme in our approach to water. So, in the long dry months from November to May, we gave our garden a scant dose of grey water. Due to our minimalistic approach to water consumption and because grey water does not include black water, we didn’t generate much grey water at all to begin with. The water we did use then went through phytoremediation, nourishing our thriving bed of reeds. The somewhat purified grey water then wound up in the grey water sump, to further purify under the effect of the ultraviolet rays from the sun. In this process, a fair amount was lost to evaporation. What was left was barely enough to keep our tiny row of hedge plants green, let alone the vast expanse of grass. So – everything died. Our gulmohar lost all its twigs along with their leaves. Our jacaranda and java cassia were both reduced to a single bare stalk. Our golden shower not only lost all its leaves, it developed a crack right at the bottom of the trunk that looked entirely lethal. Our bougainvillea flourished, our bamboo looked happy enough and our ice cream creeper stayed green, though it didn’t get new leaves, but everything else withered and looked to be in varying stages of death throes.

And then, at last, in the first week of May, just three weeks ago, we got our first proper shower of the year. Some cyclone, the papers said, somewhere far away, but it was enough. Three days of rain, and our garden sprang back to life. It was incredible. Grass that had gone yellow and dried up months ago suddenly turned green and grew three inches overnight. All our trees sprang new leaves, even new branches. Even – in fact, especially – the golden shower that had appeared to be the most doomed of the lot. It still had a crack that threatened to sever the trunk two inches from the ground, but now it had so many new leaves it was practically unrecognizable. A chickoo tree that had shown no evidence of life has sent forth a ton of new leaves. Our gulmohars grew to over ten feet in height – much of the growth achieved even before the rain at last hit us. Plants I had totally forgotten about have sent out shoots – a whole row of tube roses I’d give up for dead and a lily bulb that I had not even known what to do with, have surfaced unexpectedly. I almost yanked them out, thinking they were weeds.

Oh yes, weeds. The joyful task of spotting them in the grass and pulling them out is now back in my list of everyday to-dos. I can’t say I’m thrilled about that, but weeds are part of the same amazing persistence that I see in the rest of my plants.

What an amazing ability nature has given her children. A long, long dry season and not only do they survive, they bounce back with double the vigour, in double the numbers. I might have known this at an intellectual level at some point in my life, but it’s only now, when I see it unfolding before me, that I can even begin to appreciate it.

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