Thursday, 31 March 2011

Dressing up the Balcony

There had always been a few plants in our balcony, but when my son was born, my husband and I could no longer tend to them. Between feeding the baby and cleaning him up, there seemed  to be little time for anything else. Even the really hardy plants seemed hard to manage and very soon, our balcony turned bare.

When my son turned 2 and joined play school, I suddenly had a lot more time. My gardening instincts were revived. So I brought out all the unused pots and every other possible container that was lying around. An old ceramic tea pot, a couple of earthen cooking pots, an unused wooden box and even a lid were all put to use. The containers filled with soil and compost, had  cuttings from here and there planted in them; they are now overflowing with green foliage. Actually, green and a tinge of purple too. Most of my balcony plants are ornamental and at least a few deserve mention.

This is the pretty Ivy, which I got  all the way from Bangalore. The  size of the leaf varies from large to tiny and its shape is acutely triangular.

This lush plant, whose name I do not know, is an absolute visual treat. Its glossy green leaves seem delectable. I’d imagine a goat would love to nibble all of its tender leaves if it came anywhere close.

Lush Green Plant, Name Unknown

My teapot is home to both the Money Plant and the Purple Heart. It’s perfect for a simple hydroponic system. You can pour out the spent water through its spout and refill it with fresh water through its wide mouth.
Money Plant and Purple Heart in My Tea Pot

This is a lovely plant with shimmering silver and green leaves. Its scientific name, I recently learnt is Tradescantia zebrine. Zebrine is derived from its zebra patterned silver leaves.
Tradescantia zebrine
A regular burst of colour is provided by the Table Rose and the Star Glory or Mayil Mannikkam (in  Tamil).
Star Glory  or Mayil Mannikkam
Table Rose

The strongly aromatic Karpoorvalli is a family favourite. Gently brush past it and one’s olfactory senses are bombarded with its distinct fragrance (similar to that of caraway or ajwain). Every paati here in Tamil Nadu will vouch for its curative properties, for ailments as diverse as colds and stomach aches. It’s amazing that such a valuable plant should grow like a weed, requiring hardly any care.
Here's the dressed up balcony. The bottom tier of plants is my son’s preserve. The regular sight of my toddler watering “his” plants with the utmost care is heartwarming. Our bare balcony has steadily turned into a vibrant one and is evidently my family’s favourite spot at home. 
My Balcony Garden