Decorating with Dried Plants
Before Delhi lost many of it’s older homes with gardens in the front and back to the ‘modern’ wall to wall structures of the contemporary builder who cemented fertile land, people grew fruits and vegetables in gardens on their premises.
Of the ones still standing, is a home in the locality of Shanti Niketan, whose occupants grow all manner of vegetables and fruit on a relatively small plot of land. Mango, papaya & banana grow shoulder to shoulder with bougainvillea, Frangipani and fragrant jasmine to shade the driveway. While drumstick and curry leaf share space in the small garden amid thick palms and a dense rose bush. At the back offering natural cover are a sweet lime and lemon tree. And on the terrace of this incredibly productive 2000 sq ft plot, is an array of pots and tubs overflowing with tomato, basil, chilly, aubergine and spinach– a kitchen gardeners delight!
When the winter sets in, mustard is grown to be harvested. Sprouting out of an old tub, the seeds are removed from their dry stalks over hot cups of chai and some storytelling. A tradition carried down from times not so long ago, when women ran their hands through the lightly grazing texture of mustard seeds and wheat, washed them thoroughly and spread them on old sarees on sunbathed terraces, spending winter afternoons warming themselves in the sun chasing away birds that the crop attracted. As the day closed, the grains and seeds were stored away or sent to be ground to the local flour mill.
A custom that continues even today, with a slight alteration– the dried stems of mustard and wheat make for a beautiful winter presence or a reminder of the season gone by and are used as decoration. They’re extremely hardy and can survive a year or more. You could use them in corners of you home or office, on bookshelves, tables or even alongside heirlooms; after all, the universe follows a rhythm that guides changing seasons, but our memories are treasures that float independent—always within the heart. Allow winter’s plants to show you the full picture.