Himalayan flowers, unassuming, modest and happy, just to be. In a few years they may disappear in the face of rampant, mindless construction.
Years after I trekked to the Valley of Flowers, I moved to a small village in Kumaon. Immersed in creating my own garden, I wanted flowers and trees aplenty. I wanted the garden to look neat, but NOT manicured. I wanted local trees, local flowers. Though I did succumb to the greed of having cultivars. Over the years that followed, the garden came to life on its own, developing its own character. I wished so hard to provide a home for wild flowers, which come and go according to the season as is their wont. It happened, albeit slowly. One needs an eye to notice these small wild flowers and to provide a safe haven for them. To make sure they are not uprooted, mistaking them for weeds.
I recalled the evening I was returning from the Valley of Flowers, satiated by the enthralling experience, which was indeed, spiritual. At Ghangaria, eager to share my joy at the myriad small Himalayan flowers I had seen in abandoned bloom, unassuming and hugging the ground, I asked one of my fellow travellers about her experience. She said she had been disappointed because she had expected large blooms and more vibrant colours. Perhaps she had a manicured garden in Delhi on her mind. I was taken aback by her response, but then each to their own!
Now I seek those little Himalayan flowers, in a nook here and in a crevice there, every time I go for a walk, in my own garden, or in other gardens that delight in the surprises that nature brings. The sudden bursts of colour. Sometimes, hundreds of these little heads cling together as though seeking safety in numbers. Spotting them is always a delight, identifying them is like meeting an old friend.
After a harsh winter when every blade, every insect goes to sleep, one can hear and see renewed life return slowly, at the begiining of spring. The tiny fresh green leaves emerge, and one can hear the hum of insects, and the call of birds. Slowly but surely, the flowers raise their heads cautiously, one by one…and sometimes, in celebration, together.
The earliest ones are the high Mallow, Himalayan yellow flax in March and early April. A little later, one can spy the black eyed geranium and the buttercups(Ranunculus). April brings forth Daisy fleabane, Valerium and Hypericum (St John’s Wort). Himalayan musk rose is hard pressed to compete with all the other cultivated roses. The fragrance of the hundreds and thousands of flowers enveloping the tops of trees can bring showy colourful cultivars to shame.
How could I miss the entire meadows full of dandelions and morning primroses.The list is never ending.
These little flowers are unassuming, modest and happy, just to be. Perhaps they are grateful to be able to bloom and find their place in the sun. Who knows, in a few years they may have to find some obscure space or they may just disappear in the face of rampant, mindless construction and the ruthless erosion of their natural habitat. Sadder still, perhaps there will not be many amongst us left to mourn their deaths.