The Globe and the Family

spottedleaves       croton

Croton and some other ornamental plants were my addition to the globe and its family in the home garden of ours that was dominated by flowering plants. They were planted in pots in our balcony, courtyard and the roof top. The soil used to be from Kali Bari. I used to go there and meet Nirmal Bhaiya for his permission to take the valuable top soil from the garden area. I remember having borrowed, as Huck would say, few croton plants from there.


There used to be a baked red soil pot at the terrace with a bougainvillea plant in it that had grown thick stemmed and had spread a mini canopy with the passage of time. It gave the least tension to those who tended the plants, i.e. mother and us siblings. We used to carry water in buckets to the plants at the roof top, around two in the morning and two to three buckets every evening, depending on the need of the plants. The colour of the bougainvillea flowers was pink. No, the flower were always white, the bracts were pink. In contrast to the flowers like rose or rajnigandha, the flowers had no fragrance.


Marigold is different from bougainvillea in many ways. Its flowers have a definite fragrance. They are actually one full inflorescence and the coloured parts are flowers, unlike the other one. Its presence in the home garden was mainly owing to the fact that it is used to decorate the various gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon, sans any kind of prohibition. It is especially useful on Thursdays, the days of yellow coloured flowers, although it comes in many other colours too. Its leaves, I had learnt at my maternal grandmother’s place, have antiseptic and probably blood coagulating powers. Whenever any of the children of the house used to have some minor cut or injury, my grandmother used to press the leaves to extract their juice and used to apply the whole thing, leaves and all, upon the injury or cut.

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