Ficus benghalensis – a place of reflection.

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Admiring a Ficus benghalensis in Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo.

The banyan tree is central to several Asian religions including Hinduism & Buddhism. Banyan refers to many species of fig, but most specifically to the Indian banyan, Ficus benghalensis. Banyans also serve a practical purpose, as a shady place for merchants to meet – banya is from the Gujarati word for trader. The epiphytic tree starts by wrapping itself around a host tree before plunging roots into the ground – a convenient metaphor for forces beyond human control, or struggle more generally. The banyan is sacred to Buddhists as a place of reflection. After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha is said to have sat under a banyan for seven days, reflecting.

One of the greatest wildflower shows on earth – Enjoy the Sweet smell of spring & take a woodland walk amidst an abundance of gorgeous bluebells aka Hyacinthoides non-scripta.

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A carpet of bluebells adorn a woodland.
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One of my favourite spring flowers – the violet-blue colour is simply divine.

Dreamy Delphiniums?

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https://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/12/the-real-gardeners-questions-answered/

Let your life Lightly Dance…by Tagore.

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Looking Fabulous right now: Rhododendron russatum

Gorgeous intense blue-purple flowers with pale centres borne in dense clusters & aromatic dark green evergreen leaves. A lovely small rhododendron shrub that would make a great focal point designed into a border, bed or standalone container.

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Looking fabulous right now: Galanthus nivalis.

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Galanthus nivalis make a great early spring flowering bulbous perennial especially in woodland areas.
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Plenty of nodding flowers coming through here.
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White flowers that are often honey-scented suit several locations including flower borders & beds, underplanting of roses & shrubs, cottage & Informal Garden Rock Garden as well as Wildflower meadows.

Sacred Lotus aka Nelumbo nucifera seed propagation.

I love Nelumbo nucifera for a multitude of reasons. Not only is its statuesque form truly iconic but it is a staple edible with a large geographical range from Asia, Iran eastwards to China, Japan and Australia. It is known for its myriad medicinal properties, natural chemicals & removing pollutants from water.

My enchantment with the Sacred Lotus feels very much  a coming together, an intertwining of Dhamma & Horticulture. For the Sacred Lotus has many connections with ancient religions too (including Hinduism & Buddhism). Furnishing them with symbols for the mother goddess, purification & reincarnation. It is a preternatural plant yet as I have read relatively easy to grow so was delighted when some seeds were gifted to me by my sister Anju enabling me to experiment growing my very first Sacred Lotus.

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Nelumbo nucifera seeds.
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Nelumbo nucifera seeds are held up high above the water in iconic conical shaped fruiting receptacles.

IMG_1181.JPGLotus seeds have an extremely thick seed coat that keeps water out enabling them to stay viable for hundreds if not thousands of years. One case in point being Sacred Lotus plants grown from 3,000-year-old seed found in a Jomon – era excavation in Japan.

The act of wearing down the seed coat to allow water in is called scarification. Because the seed coat is particularly thick for Nelumbo nucifera seeds I used a metal file (& a lot of elbow grease!) to get through the 3 layers before getting to the yellow embryo.

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Quite a bit of elbow grease required to scarify a Sacred Lotus seed!

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Three seed coat layers filed down to yellowish embryo.

Place the scarified seeds into a bowl of water so that they swell & start to sprout. The water gets pretty cloudy so it is important to change the water daily to reduce risk of infections.

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Nelumbo nucifera is unusual in that the stem sprouts first before the roots.  This particular seed took 7 days to sprout but some can take longer.
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Once the seed has sprouted I planted it up in a small container with a rich loam & lightly spread some horticultural grit on top to help settle the loam ready to be submerged into a container of water & kept at a minimum temperature of 25°C (77°F).

Now for patience & daily caring to nurture growth into flowering – so watch this space. In the meantime, I would love to hear from fellow Nelumbo nucifera enthusiasts out there – do get in touch.