The apartment complex that houses our apartment has a fair amount of space dedicated to the ‘common green areas’ as I call it. Sometimes, when I am going to the concierge office to pick up a parcel or simply taking a walk, I visit the fuchsia shrubs. They regularly shed their flowers, and I pick a few of them up and bring them home.
And when I do, I am inevitably faced with a question from my husband. It goes like this:
“You have brought the flowers home again?”
“But I didn’t pluck them. I only picked what had fallen to the ground.”
He sighs. “People will think you are crazy. Nobody picks up flowers here – fallen or otherwise – and brings them home. I have told you this for the upteempth time.”
“I have seen people foraging and it’s quite a popular concept in Europe or elsewhere. And like I said, I don’t pluck them. I only pick up what the plants have offered to the ground. They are going to wither away anyways.”
You see, I have fallen in love with the fuchsia flowers. I hadn’t encountered fuchsia whilst we lived in India, but the more I saw of them in Ireland, the more they began to embed themselves in my heart.
Their reds, pinks, purples, blues…The way they hang upside down, like little chandeliers made of rainbows. Or ballerinas in colourful outfits and multiple feet!
This past month, we brought a fuchsia plant home. Actually, we first tried a smaller (what we thought was an indoor version), and I am sorry to say that I killed the plant. Then, I thought of giving it another try, and used a birthday voucher given to me by a friend and got an outdoor plant from a reputed nursery. I am not certain if it would survive. But every day, I spend at least 10 minutes with it, admiring its blossoms and asking it if it would like to live with us.
I know that the blossoms wouldn’t last forever. Nurseries employ several methods and types of fertilisers so that the plants are always in bloom. Also, we have been more successful with indoor plants in our apartment, and with ornamental plants in particular whose mission isn’t producing blooms of any kind. So our experiment with a fuchsia plant is wrought with many disadvantages and risks.
But certain varieties of the fuchsia plant are known to be hardy; surviving well in the wild and also in winters. Also, my reasoning is that instead of spending (more) money on bouquets, it is better to invest in plants. Even if they don’t flower. They do so much by their mere presence (if they survive that is), that I am willing to care for them, and take chances.
I tell myself that some of our plants have now thrived for three years, and the ones that we gave to our friend in Reading are still going strong. So we may stand a chance with the fuchsia.
I have also derived a very precious pleasure, one that I cannot quite articulate, by picking up the fallen fuchsia flowers in our balcony. It takes me back to a time when I used to pick up and gather the parijat flowers in my mother’s garden.
Much to the annoyance of my husband, I have collected all the fallen fuchsia flowers and kept them in a dish in my indoor ‘garden.’
What grows in my indoor garden at the moment? Three plants of Indian tulsi (all from saplings gifted to me by a former neighbour), a basil plant, a bleeding hearts vine (it stopped flowering after its first bloom), a peace lily, a red anthurium, a nerve plant, three varieties of cactus, a version of what we used to call ‘office flowers’ in India, a rattlesnake calathea, a fiddle leaf fig, what we believe is a variety of curly bird’s nest fern, three plants (mother, and two siblings) of a plant whose name we don’t know, a jade plant, three panda plants. And some others…
I talk to them on most days. It reminds me of my maternal grandmother who used to talk to her favourite gulbas plants every evening, confiding in them all the joys and sorrows of her heart.
I am also trying to draw the fuchsia flowers – thanks to discovering the benefits of husband’s ipad and its accompanying pen. It is very handy for those who don’t really know how to draw but want to learn doing so.
5 thoughts on “An ode to the fuchsia plant, and to gardens that pleasure our hearts”
I love fuchsias too, but after two unsuccessful attempts have decided they’re not for us. Oh, that purple and red!
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Growing up in Gujarat where temperatures soared to 40 degree Celsius and more during summers, I had never seen fuchsias. But there’s a gardening group on FB that I follow, and people from colder climes in India, especially those in the hills and such do have fuchsias in their gardens and pots. Do you think Bangalore’s relatively cooler climes would allow fuchsias to thrive?
Yes, quite likely, Prerna. But not at the farm, with our harsh wind and sun. Also, disasters happen when I’m away, in the absence of my tlc!
Absolutely understandable. You know, I was wondering if you had heard about a plant which was referred to in Gujarat as ‘damro’. It had small violet coloured flowers and was used (during my parents’ time) in the bouquets that both men and women carried to their wedding pandal. It had an exotic, strong, otherworldly fragrance and it helped couples who would be profusely sweating in front of the fire (pre AC banquets!). My mother had a damro plant and now I can’t find it anywhere!
Never came across damro in Gujarat, but a Google search says it is sweet basil. Look it up and see if that’s the flower you’re searching for.
Do you know a herb called majhati? A friend once gave me one to taste, it had a series of explosive tastes on the tongue. Wish I could find it.