Sometime early this year, we got a gardener. And now my garden is almost unrecognisable.
The good news is that, almost nothing has died since my last update so many months ago. The grass, the trees, everything made it through the long summer and the dry monsoon. Not just made it – almost everything flourished.
The gardener, Mr Albert, raised and leveled the lawn by adding two layers of sand. To my utmost dismay, each time it completely smothered the grass and made my lovely, lush green lawn look like the Sahara desert (not that I’ve been there… but what I imagine it might look like). Both times, to my delight and relief, the grass pushed its way through and created a brand new, lush green lawn. It’s still a bit lumpy though – certainly not Wimbledon.
The creepers: The Jasmine is flowering and fragrant, though it hasn’t grown any taller. The bougainvillea (not a creeper, I know, but close enough) is leafy and colourful, somewhat more green and less colourful than I would like, but just after the rainy season you can’t help that. The ice cream creeper – I don’t know, it might be a lemon. I mean, it was supposed to be an ice cream creeper, but every picture I’ve seen of the ice cream creeper on the net shows tiny pink flowers and this one has tiny white flower. Maybe it’s anaemic? At any rate, it has grown and covered the railing of the basement garden and produced some flowers, even if they are anaemic. In the back garden, the vanilla creeper is slowly finding its way up the wall. Next to it, a small creeper with pretty little red flowers is keeping it company.
The flowering trees: One gulmohar has grown into a splendid and beautiful creature, though it hasn’t shown us any flowers yet. The other one, sadly, is struggling. We had to move it from its place in the back lawn to a place outside the house and it hasn’t recovered from the shock yet. The other trees are all flourishing. The frangipani has grown beautifully and got a good set of flowers. The jacaranda, the golden shower, and the java cassia had all dwindled to a single dead-looking stalk in summer, but each one has got a new set of branches and leaves. The java cassia is already showing the shape it’s going to assume in another ten years. It’s only about waist high so far, but its branches span 20 feet from tip to tip and they’re pushing further every day. I’m going to have to prune it drastically and soon and the prospect is breaking my heart.
The fruit trees: We don’t have any fruit off any of these yet, but just for the record, we have a custard apple, a banana, a chickoo, a lemon, a sweet lime, a mango (if four leaves can be called a tree), and about 8 papaya trees. And also, just for the record, I don’t eat papaya and I have no clue what we’re going to do with so many papayas, assuming all of the trees eventually bear fruit.
And the vegetables. Vegetables, as I’ve said before, are not my thing. All the same, now that we have a gardener, we have a vegetable patch at one end of our lawn, and also a good collection of pots on one verandah. We have spinach and tomato and onion and beans and carrot and red capsicum, all of which have already yielded a harvest, to a greater or lesser extent. And we have cabbage and egg plant and various other things that I don’t even recognize that are still growing. And more tomato and more onion. It’s quite impressive really.
And finally, the crowning achievement of our gardener, we have a brand new, dedicated 5000 litre tank which stores rain water and will be used for gardening through the long, dry summer months. There’s a lovely pulley system rigged up over it. I haven’t tried it out yet, so I’m not sure exactly how much fun it’s going to be to lug a bucket of water up the eight foot depth… but I expect I’ll find out soon enough. Summer is just around the corner now, isn’t it?