Indo-American Interconnected Overtones: Nucifera and Lutea

I stumbled upon one more connection between India and America last year but it took me a while to note it down here – the divine and royal lotus. Have always fancied lotus since a little girl starting with the golden lotus in “pottramarai kulam” of Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai. Goddess of wealth is supposed to have her residence in lotus, rather the scared lotus. I never knew something like lotus could create a beautiful link until I read about the yellow lotus of America.

Nelumbo nucifera, a perennial aquatic is the national flower of India also known as the “bean of India”. It is native to hot Asian tropics. With roots deep in the muddy soil, lotus shoots up its leaves over the surface area of water on an average of about three feet. Showy leaves and flowers captivate the eyes and is a staple of water gardens. Lotus can live over a thousand years. Lotus being associated with divinity is used in prayers. Different parts of lotus such as stem, rhizome are used in cooking and herbal medicines.

Nelumbo lutea, commonly known as American lotus or yellow lotus is native to North America. The distribution of the species ranges from Minnesota to Florida, Mexico, Honduras, and the Caribbean. It was distributed to the North by Native Americans as a food source. The tribes also treated the American lotus as a sacred plant with mystical powers, and used parts of the plant for medicinal purposes.

Indian Lotus

Indian Lotus

American Lotus

American Lotus

Indian Lotus American Lotus
Kingdom Plantae Plantae
(unranked) Angiosperms Angiosperms
(unranked) Eudicots Eudicots
Order Proteales Proteales
Family Nelumbonaceae Nelumbonaceae
Genus Nelumbo Nelumbo
Species N. nucifera N. lutea

 

One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus is untouched by water. — Bhagavad Gita 5.10

 

Advertisements

Fall Décor‎

Before –

Before

After –

After

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air. Fall has arrived. Behold the changing leaves, and enjoy the crisp breeze. Let your eyes take in the bursts of color and beware that transformation is afoot and hope is in the air. ~ H. Thompson Barnhart III, P.S. Grandma Says

Are Sunflowers Nerdy?

Sunflowers are one of the species that originated in North America. They were probably one of the first cultivated crops by Native Americans around 1000 B.C.E. Europeans took the sunflowers around the world during 1500 C.E. Otherwise called helianthus, are adored for the bright and cheery disposition, also a food source to bees, squirrels, birds, and humans. They are the great inspiration to the impressionist painters, especially Vincent Van Gogh. Have spent hours staring at Philadelphia Museum of Art. Later bought a stained glass replica from the gift shop. In 2013, read that they are wilting and out of whim painted one.

Sunflowers Painting

Sunflowers Painting

I can never get enough of sunflowers. When this spring arrived, I sowed and it bloomed.

In My Garden

In My Garden

I finally understood why I’m fascinated with sunflowers. Did you know that sunflowers has a perfect geometry based on Fibonacci sequence? Golden Angle in geometry is the smaller of the angle created by sectioning the circumference of the circle according to the golden ratio – that is if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities:

a+b        a
—–   =  —
a            b

This theory plays a significant role in phyllotaxis – the arrangement of leaves on a stem. The most notable golden angle is the angle that separates the florets on a sunflower. They are just as nerdy as I can get.

Native Gardening and Biodiversity

Biodiversity is not just reserved for national/state parks. Home gardens can enhance the much needed biodiversity in the cities and suburbs. Native plants are indigenous to a given area – developed or occurred naturally in the area and existed along with other life forms in the environment. Starting from European Settlers to every other country in the world has brought different species of plants that are now commonly referred as “exotics” or “ornamentals”. Some of these species may become invasive damaging the local habitat. These plants also do not support the local wildlife from bees, butterflies, caterpillars, to animals high up in food chain. Hence it could possibly undermine biodiversity. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, PA states that about 106 are extinct and marked 228 as endangered plants in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Home gardens that have manicured lawns and colorful ornamental shrubs and flowers may look lush and inviting, but they are do not have nutrition for insects and birds. Environmental studies have shown the positive impact of native plants on the biodiversity in suburban landscapes. Advantages of going native gardening is that since they evolved here, it is easy to take care of them once they are established. They easily adopt to local soil, requires less or no fertilizers, less watering, and help with pollination services.

Take charge and plant native. There are several resources to know more. First find the list of plants native to your region and then look out for nurseries that sell nursery propagated native plants. Do not collect the plants from wild as you would disrupt a very delicate ecosystem. We don’t have a big yard but wanted to do our part and got our plants from The Schuylkill Center last Saturday. Here are my favorites:

New York Ironweed

New England Aster

Poppy Mallows

Black-Eyed Susan

Poppy Mallow

Poppy Mallow

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan

New England Aster

New England Aster

New York Ironweed

New York Ironweed

Looking forward for colorful summer and fall this year!

Evening on the Wissahickon

I came not from the old world but from the ancient world, India. I was indeed captivated by the cityscapes, the feats of man-made structures and the exploits of architectural niches in the new world. When I could get past those magnificent cities, I’ve felt “world is big” all the time. Cities make me claustrophobic. American charm doesn’t end in cities. It is true soul lies in the great wilderness. I’ve been to only 5 states so far – fascinated by nature in each one of it. Colossal Niagara falls, giant Saguaro cactus, red woods touching the sky, I’ve lost words… pondering nature, creation, and God.

It has been only 6 months in Philadelphia – getting to know the history and culture. I’ve no idea how I landed in the article about “The lost gold mine of Wissahickon” from Google. Eventually found about Friends of Wissahickon and registered for the history trail along the Forbidden Drive. Trial guide Sarah West is very knowledgeable and patient in answering our questions. My American husband, who was born in Philadelphia, had not ventured past the Historic Rittenhouse Town until last weekend. When we pulled in the parking lot heavily shielded under trees with the creek running alongside, both of us didn’t know what lay ahead of us.

Wissahickon Creek

Wissahickon Creek

Wilderness

Wilderness

Wissahickon Creek runs 23 miles passing thru northwest Philadelphia, joins Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. Wikipedia says its name come from Lenape word “wiessahitkonk”, for “catfish creek” or “stream of yellowish color”. Mills of Wissahickon were producing paper to gun powder making it the first industrial area of North America. The first paper mill in America was built by William Rittenhouse during early 18th century. Benjamin Franklin noted without the mills, Wissahickon can supply pure water to Philadelphia. Eventually Fairmount Park Commission acquired 1,800 acres of the Wissahickon Valley in 1868 and demolished all the mills along the creek. Wissahickon turnpike was permanently closed to automobiles making the turnpike, “Forbidden Drive”. When the rest of America continue to become industrialized, Wissahickon slowly returned to original wilderness.

Bridge History

Bridge History

Bridge

Bridge

It is not just history that makes stop talking and hones other senses tingles with enthusiasm. Wissahickon valley is Wissahickon schist, prime bedrock underlying the Philadelphia region. This is Precambrian to Cambrian stone, has flecks of glittery mica, small garnets, and many-toned shadings of gray, brown, orange, and blue. I was jumping in joy as I started to spot mice and garnets in the schist. We loved the history walk and the region in general. My husband and I resolved to trail in the 1800 acres as much as we can and to bring our kids in the future for a practical hands on lesson on geology, history, and nature.

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy

Schist with Sparkling Mica

Schist with Sparkling Mica

To me, after all these years, I can feel “Evening on the Wissahickon” is still close to “Morning on the Wissahiccon” 🙂

My Most Beautiful Masterpiece

One of the famous quotes from Claude Monet is “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece”. Here is mine. My mother had a great garden while growing up in the most amazing mountains of Western Ghats, Kodaikanal in India. She had beans, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, cabbage, potatoes, and about a million rose plants. Life took us to the busiest cities in the world – Chennai, and Bangalore. My mother moved on to container gardening. I’m grateful for the small yard in the traditional row houses of Philly as I moved in with my husband after wedding. As much as I love snow, I was waiting for spring. I had my stock of indoor container plants long before that – Golden Pothos, Chinese Money Tree, Lucky Bamboo, succulents that I picked up in Philadelphia Flower Show 2015, and the Key Lime and Valencia Orange dwarf trees as a Valentine’s Day gift from my husband 😉

I started with the Garden Tenders training by PHS in March of this year as I really want to understand gardening from northeastern to tropical style. They also gave me some seeds to start – I picked up broccoli, spinach, onions – all organic ones. My style is organic and self-sustaining. It took me a while to start gardening as I got busy with the kitchen remodeling and started on first week of May, slowly digging working next to my husband. It was back breaking but at the same time loads of fun too. I bought the $1 stepping stones from Dollar Tree to mark the boundary for the garden. I also got some cute decoration as they say bright shiny objects ward off birds. Stuck plastic cutleries to shoo neighborhood cats. Planted the seeds from PHS Garden Tenders and added strawberry patch, blueberry bushes in containers. Moved my container trees out to bask in the bright sunlight and gentle spring showers. There are some valuable lessons learnt from internet too – citrus peels and moth ball in plastic containers with holes will deter cats from using my evergreen shrubs as their bathroom. I took the “shiny objects” lesson seriously – got the Slinky Wheels for $1, put some metallic streamers to avoid birds, later added balloons learning and improvising as I go – spending frugally at the same time ecofriendly measures to grow garden. Here is my masterpiece.

Garden

Garden

Vegetables

Vegetables

Fenugreek

Fenugreek and Green Chili

Containers

Key Lime, Valencia Orange, Bluberries

Bless

Bless this Garden

Couple

Cute Frog Couple

“Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.” ― Claude Monet

Red, White, and Blue

You got to honor 4th of July especially in Philadelphia. There is no fun in buying wreaths so I made one 🙂 I get carried away easily at Michaels or Jo Ann. I can be all over and have this innate feeling of wanting every single thing in there. My husband was carrying burlap, paper stars, glitter, pins, glue, yarn, and several assorted things that didn’t make sense together. After 40 minutes of walking, I finally decided to keep it simple. I got this foam wreath base, blue streamers, red and white metallic papers, Americana star, and pins of course. I could put the wreath together after dinner while my husband was doing dishes 🙂

Independence Day

Independence Day

My husband is the BEST in the whole wide world!!!