CHENNAI: Curiosity. That’s what led Imteyaz Ali to quit his cushy corporate job and follow his passion for gardening. After starting ‘Greenmenders’ as a Facebook page in 2012 to get feedback on terrace gardening and the his products, today he has expanded it into a profession where he supplies all kinds of plants and gardening equipment to people across the country.
“I wanted a change and tried my hands at a couple of things before deciding that I should start something of my own. I was inclined towards gardening. I was reading up and looking for some rare varieties of seeds. I found them online from some vendors mostly from the US and UK,” he recalls.
‘Greenmenders’ received great feedback and Imteyaz got in touch with vendors who would sell seeds to him in bulk. He started importing them and then grew them on his terrace. What makes Imteyaz’s garden different is that he deals specifically with exotic plants. Blueberry, white strawberry, cranberry, black carrots, butternut squash, strawberry popcorn, blue flag iris, snapdragon...you name it, he has it!
“I specifically focus on exotic varieties that are not easily available in the market. The most important thing is that I grow them organically, without using any chemicals,” he claims. He regularly posts photographs of his plants and seeds, and shares the challenges and experience of growing such plants. “That was one thing I felt people liked, because I was giving them the right information after having researched and tried it myself,” he adds.
Imteyaz’s terrace is covered with clear sheet to protect the plants from strong rains or heat. He has close to 500 varieties of plants today and has even added other garden accessories such as hanging planters, hand trowels, water sprays, etc. He has been continuously researching on the kinds of plants that can be grown in a sub-tropical/tropical climate such as India’s and even adds new varieties to his collection every season.
Is it possible to grow plants such as strawberries and blueberries in Chennai? “For exotic plants, the good time is from November till March or April. So the plants that grow in winter, can be grown this time. We need to shift the plant indoors or outdoors according to the requirement. Another important factor I realised through the course of my research is that if you grow plants from the seed stage in the same climate then they will adapt to the environment. That’s how it is possible to grow plants like blueberry in a humid city like Chennai,” he explains.
The price of the seeds are ranged from `100 to `300 and other accessories are priced between `300 and `600, depending on the size. Imteyaz says that after realising that exotic plants can be grown in the city and learning the techniques from him, many are up for purchasing such plants/seeds.
For details, call Imetyaz at 9940283414