Why this blog is called "Gallimaufry".

gal-uh-MAW-free\, noun.

Originally meaning "a hash of various kinds of meats," "gallimaufry" comes from French galimafrée; in Old French, from the word galer, "to rejoice, to make merry"; in old English: gala + mafrer: "to eat much," and from Medieval Dutch maffelen: "to open one's mouth wide."

It's also a dish made by hashing up odds and ends of food; a heterogeneous mixture; a hodge-podge; a ragout; a confused jumble; a ridiculous medley; a promiscuous (!) assemblage of persons.

Those of you who know me, will, I’m sure, understand how well some of these phrases (barring the "promiscuous" bit!) fit me.

More importantly, this blog is an ode to my love for Shimla. I hope to show you this little town through my eyes. If you don't see too many people in it, forgive me, because I'm a little chary of turning this into a human zoo.

Stop by for a spell, look at my pictures, ask me questions about Shimla, if you wish. I shall try and answer them as best as I can. Let's be friends for a while....

29 June 2008


It was love at first sight. I first came across hydrangeas in the 80s in Srinagar (J&K), where they grew in profusion in our neighbour Mrs. W’s garden. None of avid gardeners in the area knew the name of this pretty plant. They called it “snowballs” because it was white & round!

It was when I moved to Shimla & quizzed some knowledgeable locals that it turned out these were hydrangeas.

Here are the results of some desultory research I made:
There are about 75 species of hydrangeas. These are spread as far and wide as southern and eastern Asia, in southern Europe and in both continents of America. In Shimla, these plants start blossoming in spring and continue to do so until almost autumn. They grown in large flowerheards, or corymbs and the flowers are of the same size.

My friend P shares an interesting fact about hydrangeas: she says that in these species the exact colour often depends on the pH of the soil; therefore, acidic soils produce blue flowers, neutral soils produce very pale cream petals, and alkaline soils results in pink or purple. In my neighbourhood, you have blue flowers growing in profusion in one section and pretty pink ones just a few feet away! P also told me that hydrangeas can be “a mophead, lacecap, snowball type ('Annabelle'), oakleaf, or paniculata (PG) type.
I’m afraid I may not been able to tell an “Endless Summer” from a “Nikko Blue”, except to say that the ones in Shimla look like mopheads to me! R confirms that the mopheads are indeed hydrangea mycrophylla, a most common species of hydrangea all over the world.

I notice that the leaves are a thick, crisp-looking, deep green & heart-shaped. Their edges appear to be coarsely toothed. The stem seems rather short.
Today I’m in a scientific state of mind; so here are a few more facts!
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliospida
Order: Cornales
Genus: Hydrangea.

On a completely unscientific tangent, don't the flowers in this picture remind you of cricket fans, peeking through the tall fences that divide spectators from the sporting arena in a stadium, eager for a glimpse of their favourite heroes?

1 comment:

Scribbler said...

I haven't seen those in a while -- surprisingly haven't seen them in Bangalore, which is rather a gardening city! We had a couple of pots of them at home when my grandmother was alive, in Bombay. :) And, indeed, she always called them by the correct name!

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