When I first started my garden, it was only flowers. I had a few pots I picked up from the nursery, with the plants still in them. Then it so happened that I planted one red amaranthus plant in one of those pots. It was a puny plant when I began, but grew like something possessed. Then slowly it became all edible in my garden. Kinda boring when you see, but it felt like a waste of real estate to have pots of flowering plants when I could use them to grow my own food!
Now I mostly have edible stuff on the balcony, but there are a few ornamentals as well – other than the indoor ones. Click on the photos to see ’em bigger.
This is a plant of nostalgia for people who grew up in Kerala. This was an essential flower for those ten days of Onam floral arrangements, and we used to walk to my mother’s house and collect these. Thumba was in abundance there, those times. I have a few plants in my balcny, sharing other plants’ pots. However, I do find them somewhat invasive/weedy for my pots.
I have a very pretty balsam plant, with double layered flowers. Part of the Impatiens family, this is very easy to care for and always have a blooming flower or two. This is native to India, and I remember it was a very common flowering plant in Kerala in my childhood. Named “Kasithumba” it has fruits/seed pods that burst when you touch them. A favourite pastime for many a child when there weren’t TV or mobile phones!
Chinese Balsam / Impatiens walleriana
Native to Eastern Africa, this plant is commonly called Impatiens. But I grew up calling this Chinese Balsam, so I will stick to that name. I only have one colour of this pretty little thing as of now, but I do intend to add to it. I have already spied two colours in my friend’s place, and plan to get cuttings when I prepare a planter or two.This must be the easiest flowering plant to grow in the whole wide world! Make sure you water it and it will reward you with countless flowers soon. I pruned mine after a very successful flowering, and its still doing pretty good.
Periwinkle / Catharanthus roseus
I always wonder about two of the Malayalam names for this plant. ‘Nithyakalyani’ means “Forever auspicious’, and “Shavam Nari” means ‘smells of dead body’. We in North Malabar also call it “Bassi poo”, but I believe that is a very regional name. This is used in folk medicine as well. I do have an issue of it trying to take over the shared pot. Somehow all the flowering plants I picked are easy to grow and tend to be weed-ish.
Marigold / Tagetes
I have two varieties, but only one is in bloom now. The one I have is a multicolour one, with maroon and yellow. The other one is large orange flower, very common near temples.
This is indeed a flower fit for kings! I brought a small cutting from home a year back, and it had been in the planter ever since. I did prune it once. However I have never had a bloom till now. One day, soon….
I used to have a couple of these, but I killed them when I forgot to water the ones in my windowsill. In my defense, I was working 24 hrs a day. I recently picked up this little guy from the nursery, and I plan to keep it alive.