We were happy to have chosen a good resort for the weekend. After breakfast we walked around its extensive gardens, and came to a lawn from which we could see the Chilika lake. After admiring bee eaters nearby, I turned my camera to the tall plants around the periphery of the lawn. I was surprised when the name Oleander popped up in my head. I’m not one who recognizes garden flowers usually. Some past association must have triggered the instant recognition. Later when I read about how poisonous they are, I wondered whether it was a warning very early in my life which had rooted itself in my mind. For the life of me I couldn’t remember a past encounter with these flowers.

In spite of it being highly poisonous, Nerium oleander, a member of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae), seems to be a gardener’s delight. It is very hardy, can survive a drought and as low a temperature as the plains of India usually have. The flowers come in several colours, and breeders have spent lifetimes developing new cultivars. Both the flowers that you see here are what are called double flowered oleander. A normal flower has five petals, but these varieties fuse two of them into each bloom, making it seem much fuller. What a sport!