Monday, April 23, 2007

Spring is here!!!

Lebanon is a beautiful country in so many ways. The four seasons are quite distinct in their character and their appeal. And the interaction of humans with nature is palpable, e.g. no sooner one is sick of winter, the rain and snow, the darkness and coldness of the days, the birds start to chirp more keenly, the buds on plants start growing signalling the arrival of Spring. The weather starts to get warmer, and snow on the mountains starts to melt. And then when you're sick of Summer, you start longing for Autumn then Winter, and the rain and snow.

The most beautiful aspect of Spring however is the sprouting of flowers and new leaves on awakening plants. Here’s what is happening on our balcony:

The plant above is a Cactus species which I have yet to identify. I took a few small offshoots from my mothers collection when we visited Damascus last summer. It was mixed with other cacti in one pot. I repotted it in March and this is the first time it has produced flowers. The small yellow flowers have been sprouting furiously since March. The plant will eventually propogate to fill the pot. The red "pods" are actually fruits. I have yet to work up the courage to taste one! You can see Timmy the cat looking around curiously.

This is a type of "Peanut Cactus". Another from the mix I took from my mothers collection last year, also repotted in March. Still young, and too early in the Spring to produce flowers, however, if you look closely you can see small red flower buds sprouting on the top centre one. These will also eventully grow to fill the pot.

This is a species of Aloe. I took a couple of small offshoots a couple of years ago from my mothers collection and planted them in a small pot. Within a year it had propogated to fill the pot and I repotted it into this container last year. It is now a little overcowded. It flowers freely two or three times a year regardless of season and temperature. A very hardy species that doesn't mind extreme temperatures, rain, sleet, hail, or snow. It is exposed to all those elements. A beautiful species of plant that has medicinal qualities. Eastern civilizations have used the liquid from the leaves of this plant to heal wounds. It is also known to be used in anti-aging creams, soaps and shampoos.

This is an "annual" flowering plant that in theory should only last one year, but we have had it for 3 years and it still flowers prefusely with no special care and attention. I will trim it this autumn to see if it will bush out at the centre. At the moment it is a little sparse in the middle, but as can be seen, it is flourishing on the sides.

This is a species of "Ball Cactus". It is another of the ones I took from my mothers collection 2 summers ago. Last summer one of those grew an ugly stalk from its side, and I wasn't sure what would come out of it. You can just about see some stalks growing on all of them now. Last summer, one day in May, we woke up and this is what the stalk turned out to be:

I repotted them in March this year into a bigger pot, and now I'm expecting many more such flowers in May. For the observent of you, you will notice there were 6, and now they are 5. I took one back to my mother because the mother plant they came from mysteriously disappeared. She was so amazed when she saw the pictures of this flower she wanted one back.

The only sad thing about these flowers is that when they bloom they only last one day. The next day this one wilted and died!

This is a birthday present I got from Ibrahim Qamar and his wife Randa. I have no idea what it is yet, but it grows prefusely all the year round and produces small clusters of yellow flowers. It is hardy but not as hardy as the Aloe's, although it is probably an Aloe. Hail and rain will dent the delicate fleshy leaves, but there is no reason to shelter it during the winter since the rain and hail also get rid of the weak and dead leaves. It also flowers about 3 times a year.

This is a "Bunny Ear Cactus" also taken from my mothers collection in Damascus. It also propogates profusely and grows quite big. There are new shoots on it now which are growing on top of the old shoots. It is also susceptible to rain and hail, but like the plant above it, the rain and hail get rid of the old weak shoots.

This is a "Crown of Thorns" plant also taken from my mothers collection. It grows freely in a pot, or as you can see, can be trained into a crown. I used an old wire coat hanger to train it to grow in the shape of a crown. Legend has it that Jesus Christ was made to wear this plant on his head when he was crusified. The thorns on it are quite long and hard.

This plant is still quite young, it is also still a bit early in the Spring to see the light green leaves that are budding on it. The beautiful red flowers that gow on its tip before the leaves grow are quite breathtaking though.

This plant is quite spectacular. It is another species of Aloe taken as a shoot from my mothers collection 2 years ago and has grown extremely well. This is the first time it has budded, the flowers have not yet matured, but when it does it promises to be breathtaking. My mother tells me that the mother plant has never flowered, so this one seems to like it here in Lebanon.

1 comment:

Frances said...

Lovely pics Sarmad, as always.
Great to see your plants and with the gorgeous backdrop - thanks.
Looking forward to reading about your trip to the south.