A Visit to the Nature Sanctuary: September 2018

I first visited the Nature Sanctuary, which until this year was called Kuzhitura Farm, in 2014. It is located south of the Amritapuri ashram. That was before I had a blog, so I don’t have photos from that year. The photos below are from my 2015 visit.

(Click on any of the galleries to enlarge the photos.)

The gardens have changed so much over the years. The volunteers have overcome so many obstacles. Their persistence was well worth it; entering the property yesterday  was like walking into a magical wonderland.

When I turned onto the path that leads to the sanctuary, I noticed that there were plants lining the borders of the path. Many of them were potted roses. I don’t know what the other plants were.

When I reached the entrance, I saw two new signs.

I walked into the lush wonderland.

There were so many beautiful flowers.

Plants grow so fast in the tropics. There were some rudraksha trees in this garden that were planted a year ago. They have grown 4-6 feet since that time. I’ve been excited that some of our Seattle Greenbelt trees grew 6 inches this year.

There are numerous turtles on the property. When I visited these gardens in January of 2018, the volunteers were installing some tubs for baby turtles to live in. The babies would move or be moved to bigger ponds when they got older. This is what the tubs looked like 8 months ago:

I was amazed at how different the tub area looked on this visit. It was so dense with vegetation. I could barely see the blue tubs.

The ponds were not easy to spot either. The photo below shows one of them:

A volunteer asked if I wanted to see some of the turtles that are living in the bigger ponds. Of course, I said yes. Once there, he told me that we could feed them treats; if we called to them, they would come. When he called, a turtle that was about the size of my palm responded right away. It would not take the food from his hand though. He said that the turtle might respond more readily to my voice. He was right. The turtle came to me right away and took the pellet from my hand. Once he ate it, I offered him another one, and he took that one too!

I learned that there are turtle eggs all over the property. When the eggs hatch, the babies find their way to water. So no one carries them to the little tubs, they find them on their own.

Later, I learned that the nature sanctuary does not have any problem with mosquitoes because there are tadpoles that eat the mosquitoes when they are in larva stage.

I saw butterflies that day and in the past and I’ve seen bees and dragonflies in these gardens. If there are tadpoles then there must be frogs! I wonder what other kinds of wildlife are in the sanctuary.

I could have stayed there all day and not have seen everything that there was to see. I look forward to my next visit.

To read the previous posts in this series click here.

The Fascinating Naga Linga Tree

On Sunday, when I was waiting in line to be admitted to a wedding feast, a nearby tree caught my eye. The flowers were fascinating. I soon realized a young man standing near me was talking about the tree. He said it was called Naga Linga and was a very sacred tree. He mentioned that the tree had that name because the flowers look like the hood of a cobra (naga is the Sanskrit word for snake). Later, I learned that another name for the tree is Shiva Linga and that they are often planted near Shiva temples. The tree is also sacred to Buddhists. (Click on the gallery below to enlarge the pictures.)

There were only a few flowers on the tree in Amritapuri. I hope someday I will be here when all the buds are open. It must be a stunning sight.

The English name for the tree is Cannonball. The reason for that becomes obvious when you see the fruit. I found these photos on Wikimedia.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

The fruit can reach a diameter of 10 inches. When one falls to the ground it may cause a loud explosive sound. The fruit usually cracks open at that time. The pulp inside is edible but humans often don’t like the smell so it is usually eaten by animals.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Wikipedia says this about the tree’s medicinal value:

There are many medicinal uses for the plant. Native Amazonians use extracts of several parts of the tree to treat hypertension, tumors, pain, and inflammation. It has been used to treat the common cold, stomachache, skin conditions and wounds, malaria, and toothache.[5] The fruit pulp is rubbed on sick dogs to cure them of mange.[10] Laboratory tests show that extracts of the plant have some antimicrobial activity and inhibit the formation of biofilms.[5]

 

References:

Couroupita guianensis

The weird and mysterious Naga Linga or Shiva Linga tree

To view the previous posts in this series click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ooh, Shiny

When I think of Ooh, Shiny, I think of:

… flowers in India

… flowers in Seattle

… microscopic photos of flowers

… fruit from my garden

… and Kavita and Meera’s beautiful Navaratri altar

To view the previous posts in this series click here.

Flowers at Kuzhitura Farm

I spent part of this morning at Kuzhitura Farm, a site that is a 20 minute walk south of the main part of Amma’s Amritapuri ashram. I will be writing at least two posts about that visit. I’m eager to show you the flowers I saw, so I’m going to start with that one! You can click on the gallery to enlarge the photos.

To see all of the posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: New Horizon

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I have spent several days at Saraswati Gardens helping in the dye area. One day last week, Padma noticed how much color was still left in the pulp after she made marigold dye. We decided to dry it out and see if something could be done with it.

The next day, the pulp still wasn’t dry so I separated into smaller pieces and placed it on cotton and silk fabrics. I thought it would dry better that way plus it gave us a chance to see what effect it would have on the cloth.

As I was distributing the pulp, I kept looking at the newspaper I had originally spread the pulp on. The color that was left on that paper was a vibrant yellow.

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By the next day, the idea of using the pulp to dye more cloth was discarded as it was obvious that the color it produced was too light.

Two days ago, the dye project staff finished the first prayer flag made using dye only from Saraswati garden flowers. I think it is so beautiful.

papermaking

The first flag below was colored with marigold dye, the second was from a rose dye, and the third was dye made from madder root. The dye for the yellow strip that goes along the top was made from turmeric root.

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The dye used on the first flag below was made from turmeric root; the second is indigo and the third is rose.

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The first flag below is another one dyed with madder root, the second and third are both from marigold dye with one being a lighter version than the other.

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Since I’m learning a bit about making dye from plants this year, I have wondered whether or not I will start making dyes when I return to Seattle. Growing the flowers sounds right; being creative with them sounds right; but at the moment I don’t feel called to dye cloth.

Last night, I thought about the bright yellow marigold dye I saw on the newspaper when I was working with the pulp. Then another memory came to me. Many years ago, I was intrigued by handmade paper. At the time, I wanted to learn how to make it, but never did.

Maybe in my retirement, I will make paper and find ways to dye it using flower petals or roots, or maybe even leaves. Or perhaps the flowers and leaves will be used in other ways, such as in this photo of papermaking in Burma.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Is papermaking on my horizon? It very well could be.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: New Horizon

To look at previous posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.