Things that a garden taught me.
Gardening is something that has life lessons for all of us! Till I started gardening myself, I would have never thought that it could be extremely therapeutic, calming and so very rewarding.
We shifted homes about three months ago. From a stand-alone home with a backyard garden (which I was not much involved in) , I shifted to a large penthouse on the 14th floor with extremely large terraces and balconies. In my earlier home, the soil was clayey. If it rained it would become squishy. Nothing much really grew there as the quality of soil was terrible and after a few attempts, I gave up trying to garden. I left it to the gardener who would come and flood the garden in the name of watering the lawn. He did not even remove the weeds. He even managed to kill a few of my potted plants too, despite repeated reprimands. The only reason why I let him continue was sheer apathy to look for another gardener (as this was the third one I as trying out).
When I moved to my new home, I knew I wanted a lovely garden--a space that was tranquil, beautiful and that which made me happy. Somewhere where I could spend time reading the morning paper, sipping coffee or eating a meal. There was ample space on the terrace. The challenge was to make it aesthetic. When I got in touch with a few garden consultants, I found that they charged a small fortune! So I decided to do it myself.
Satish and I made a visit to Lalbagh nursery and we bought tonnes of gardening stuff from there, including compressed coco-peat, organic fertilizers and garden implements.
My mother came from Kerala, to visit me in my new home. Incidentally, her home boasts of one of the loveliest gardens I have ever seen. Gardening is her passion and she does it all herself. She is blessed with a natural talent and a green thumb. I requested her to bring me some cuttings from her garden and she was more than happy to oblige.
Next began the difficult task of preparing the pots. The children had their summer vacation and joined me and my mother in mixing the soil, making holes at the bottom of the containers for draining water, then covering it with stones (so water would drain) and filling them up with planting medium (coco-peat, soil and organic fertiliser mixed together).
This took many weeks. We would work for about 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the evening. It was peak summer, and so you can imagine the heat. the temperatures around that time were between 35 degrees and 38 degrees centigrade, sometimes touching 40. We would be drenched in sweat at the end of it, and would lie down on the cold floor, under the fan, exhausted!
Then we planted the seeds and some cuttings. Once you plant them, you have to be careful to keep it in the shade and not over-water it in your enthusiasm. Also they have to be monitored on a daily basis.
Gardening is a slow process. It teaches you patience, perseverance, discipline and teaches you to cultivate a dogged determination. It teaches you, when to interfere and when to let things take their own course. You have to listen to what the plants are telling you. And above all, you have to be prepared to wait. I couldn't help observing that this is exactly what I go through, when I write a book.
And when the garden finally started blooming--oh the joy! It is unmatched, unparalleled and so very rewarding.
I am sharing some pictures of my garden, a spot I am so proud of---a spot we created ourselves, where many mornings and evening are now spent.
I had picked up this garden furniture set in the UK. These chairs and table has been a participant in many of our barbecues. So has the little dog that you see perched on the table.
Doesn't looking at this just fill you with peace?
The snail corner. The children and I painted this terracotta snail. You can see my Jasmine plants behind it.
The compost corner. We painted the green and yellow pots ourselves too. You can read a post about how I compost here.
Apart from all the above, I am also growing tomatoes, spinach, green chillies and coriander! I haven't clicked pictures of those yet. Maybe I will in a later post.
When I started off, I had no knowledge of gardening and only a few straggly plants that needed lots of care.
Now I have something that I love!
If you are inspired by this, I urge you to start a little garden on your balcony or a terrace. If you have more space, go ahead and invest some time into it.
You would be rewarded with a stress-busting space, a space that you look forward to spending time in, and that which delights you whenever you come home.
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