Willow Garden growing apace

The vegetable garden planted for us by My Dream Garden has done better than we could have dreamed. We have taken many harvests of beetroot, carrot, tomatoes, egg plant, okra, dill, spinach, lettuce, beans and even more. Quite a cornucopia.


The first lot of plants have finished bearing, except for the beans, okra and tomatoes. Yesterday the My Dream Garden team planted a second round of veg including cabbage, peas and cauliflower, whose growth I’m really looking forward. I’m particularly interested in how the peas will do. I’ve never grown peas before nor cabbage. Cauliflower I’ve tried but with disappointing results. No wonder considering that I didn’t have the right conditions for vegetable gardening before.

With the new terrace garden I’ve realised how easy it is to grow vegetables if you have the right conditions, particularly plenty of sun. The plants have thrived and fruited in short order. We took our first harvest of spinach after 6 weeks and were picking beans, okra, beetroot, radish, tomato and other veg every day soon after. A lot of the credit for these great results goes to the fantastic soil MDG provides. We have bought extra from them for our ornamental plants, which are showing the benefit.

The second round of vegetables have been planted in the same grow bags that held the earlier plants. This time, MDG has provided a range of nutrients including bioenzymes, seaweed and something they call plant meal. They’ve also given us pest control products like neem oil and their own plant protection liquid, with clear instructions on how to use them. They are definitely making vegetable gardening very easy for us.  I discovered them at a gardening exhibition and am glad I opted for their service out of the many that are available in Bangalore.

I’ve kept the ornamental planting as my own project and have done a lot already, with due thought to how I want the terrace garden to look. It will take another post to describe all that.


Willows Garden

This post is long overdue. Setting up the terrace garden in our new flat started on the day we moved in, when My Dream Garden set up the vegetable garden for us. Our plants from the old house came the same day. It didn’t take long to put them in place. But there was so much to do in organising the house, especially since we had to combine the contents of two households into one. This took a lot of sorting and hard decisions about what to keep and what to throw away. After some time it became easier to decide — rather than rack our brains to find places for things, we began to pitch them out. Our maids would go home each day loaded with stuff. A little basket we threw out made its way to the security guards’ cabin, where one of them, Anil, keep odds and ends in it.

To get back to the garden, the story is best told in pictures, starting with the terrace when completed but empty.


The vegetable garden was the first to populate the terrace. The My Dream Garden team had already poured earth into the raised beds and stored huge bags of soil before we moved in. The day we moved in they planted seeds: cucumber, brinjal, bhindi, beetroot, tomatoes, chili, lettuce, spinach, beans and coriander.

MDG gardener


Everything sprouted in due course and we now have plants growing fast, flowering and fruiting. The first vegetable to appear is tiny bhindis. But that’s for another post.


In the picture above, very young bean plants are flanked by equally young coriander. The latter grew fast and the first harvest of coriander is on the chair just below.

The plants from the old house were mostly shade-loving. They went onto stands under the shade net on two sides of the pergola.

Stand two



Stand one

These plants were somewhat neglected in the old house. It was difficult to move about the garden because there were a lot of little insects that kept biting and stinging. I would end up with a rash I had to soothe with aloe vera gel. On the terrace there’s no such problem. So I have been trimming, clearing away dead leaves and growth, and generally neatening up as much as I can.

The best parts of the day now are when I’m up on the terrace tending to the plants or just sitting on the deck and enjoying them.




Finally work on the terrace in our new flat is finished and planting can begin. A great garden set-up firm, Zensai Gardens, did the ‘hardscapes’ for us: the pergola, deck, raised bed and tiled floor. I wanted the deck to be higher but that was turning out very expensive because of the amount of cement and work involved.

Altogether, Zensia turned out to be a bit expensive, although rightly so since their work is high quality.

Pergola and deck

Raised bed

Tiled floor


But to keep the overall cost down, I’ve asked another outfit, My Dream Garden, for help with the planting. I plan to grow a lot of vegetables, which My Dream Garden will set up for me. I’m also going to try growing fruit, starting with mandarin oranges, lemon and and lime. I already have the last two; planning to get the orange from a nursery in Lalbagh.

The lime flowered this summer but didn’t set fruit, perhaps due to lack of sun. The lemon is three years old but hasn’t yet flowered. I may have to wait a few more years for it to flower since it was planted from seed.


Flowers in the garden this June

Although many of the flowers in the post below have featured in other blog posts, there are a few new arrivals. Let me start with those.

My daughter got me a lovely impatiens from a  nursery in Conoor. It’s a pleasing shade of pink, which the photo doesn’t do justice to.



Another gift she got me from the same nursery is this red begonia.



A senecio has produced a light red flower. The contrast with the blue leaves of the senecio is so pretty.  I’m hoping there’ll be a bigger display.



The bramakamal or night blooming cereus is full of buds. Sadly, these big beautiful flowers with a heavenly scent bloom after dark and last just one night. Nature at its most tantalising here.

Brahmakamal 3


The sunset bells, penta and calendula keep up their sturdy flowering, giving colour to the garden everyday.


Rangoon creeper wins the vines war

Two creepers growing side by side in the neighbour’s garden, rangoon creeper and thunbergia,  naturally vied for space. The rangoon creeper lost out at first. I’ve already written about the thunbergia invading our garden, choking and almost destroying our palms, and generally playing havoc. On the neighbour’s side, it had overcome the rangoon creeper.

About 80 per cent of the thunbegia’s growth was on our side of the wall. When I had it removed, the neighbour’s cut down what was left of the thunbergia in their garden. This gave the rangoon creeper a new lease of life.

Subsequently, the thunbergia grew back and, being a fast grower, spread rapidly. But this time the rangoon creeper held its own, having taken advantage of the dormant period of the thunbergia. It  is now thriving in its corner and putting out a good showing of flowers. Quite a bit on of the creeper is on our side of the wall and is very welcome.

Rangoon creeper


Meanwhile, after being restricted, the thunbergia is starting to flower in drupes, which is its real beauty. Earlier, due to rampant foliage growth, the flowers appeared in ones and far apart.  Now it’s possible to enjoy the thunbergia, instead of resenting its rapacity.


I seem to have come up with a tongue-twister in this post’s title.

Minds of their own

Gardeners know only too well that plants have minds of their own. They will do their own thing regardless of your hopes and aspirations. In my garden, some plants appear wherever they want to, while others become dormant and reappear at will. This leads to some interesting combinations.

A sunset bells planted in a pot previously occupied by an oxalis was joined by the re-emerging oxalis. The result is seriously clashing colours. But because this is nature, it doesn’t look hideous. I’m content to let them grow together.


In another corner of the garden, a bleeding heart vine seemed to have died but resurrected itself this year. It’s growing horizontally. Later I will train it up the ugly pipe it was meant to cover. Right now I’m enjoying the pattern in which the blooms are appearing.  Next to the vine, a tomato plant has sprouted. To the right, a sunset bells has appeared and behind is a self-seeding penta.

I got rid of most of my tomato plants because they were etiolated and full of leaf-miner. This self-seeding tomato is also affected by leaf-miner. But my principle is that self-seeding plants deserve to survive. I will pick off the affected leaves and see what becomes of this plant.

Volunteer plants

A small bit of fittonia planted in a corner has covered the entire ground on that side of the garden. Now it’s invading the lawn. The combination of grass and fittonia looks quite good. So I’m going to let the fittonia spread as it likes.

Fittonia invading the lawn

New lease of life

Some time ago I had written about my thriving episcea plant that had died, seemingly overnight, due to over-watering.I had salvaged what bits I could and planted them in separate pots. But the transplanted shoots all died. I thought that was the  end of the story.

Then recently I found shoots emerging in pots that now had other plants in them. I love it when serendipitous things like this happen and always give such plants extra care. Their perseverance needs to be rewarded.

Separately, a sunset bells that had died out began to regrow, as sunset bells do. But the emerging plant looked so scruffy for such a long time that I thought of chucking it out. Just as well that I never got round to it. This summer it has taken off and is growing and flowering with all its might. This encourages me to believe that the new episcia, which look as scruffy as this sunset bells did at first, will grow as healthy and prolific.

Sunset bells revive