The impressively beautiful, flame-orange and sun-kissed canna flower epitomises simplicity and grace. Its foliage is variegated and inflorescence unpretentious. And growing them is no calculus! Just plant a couple of bulbs in your green patch, tick a few days off the calendar and there they are- en masse- in their entire splendour, doing the foxtrot in the mellow October sunshine.
And then there's the petite tuberose begonia and the splendidly simple periwinkle, selflessly flowering almost all year round. Couldn't ask for more!
But unfortunately, not everyone adores the periwinkle or the canna flower. My mother, for instance, a self-proclaimed bonsai enthusiast, repeatedly argues with me that the periwinkle is an obstinate and fussy plant and uses this as an excuse to root out all periwinkles growing in our backyard. As an unbiased nature aficionado, I presume she's being a little supercilious.
I have encountered the same arrogance towards the Indian marigold, growing wild in little nooks and crannies in our backyards, found in lively orange and red hues. Why this unwarranted hate, I wonder. Is it because they are woven into garlands to adorn the necks of our sassy politicians? Or because they don't effuse that delicate fragrance? Oh! The Chinese wisteria has not been spared either. How can those eye-soothing violets be labelled as formidable foes?
Unwittingly, more often than not, wild flowers convincingly pin down their more spectacular 'pedigreed' garden siblings to shame. Wild button roses, for instance, intoxicate my soul, while the more sophisticated hybrid ones fail to do so. I am reminded of my maternal great-grandmother, Biji, we called her fondly and her passion for flowers and tamed wilderness.
Her 150-year-old palatial bungalow, Petlands, 15-A, Charring Cross, in the garrison town of Dagshai (Himachal Pradesh) is a testimony to this fact. The front garden was a zig-zag maze of flower beds iris, impatience, cosmos, petunias, geraniums, masses of sweet peas, lavender, plox et all. This civilised wilderness was analogous to a zen garden immediately transported you to a state of trance.
The image of this garden is perfectly etched in my memory, so that today, when my distressed soul hits the trench, I just shut my eyes and find myself in the midst of the grand and mighty deodars, sitting in the company of rambling buttercups and cosmos. I must confess, it just soothes my agitated mind.
At the end of the day, I am no floral connoisseur. I am just another bumbling bee, buzzing from one flower to the next, in search of luscious nectar and lovely fragrances.
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