CHENNAI: I spent most of my childhood in the midst of greenery,” says 56-years-old Leela Ravi Vedantam, from Hyderabad. Leela started gardening in 1987. Over 30 years, she has nurtured her 2,000-sq ft space and now has 500 potted plants. She is keen on growing plants that are aesthetically pleasing and beneficial for daily living.
Her first love is flowering plants. She says, “Anyone can create an instant flower garden with expensive plants from the local garden centre. But creating a stunning garden of flowers can be done for surprisingly little money if you are willing to invest time and creativity.”
The varieties in her garden include hibiscus, rose, chrysanthemum, marigold, orchid and jasmine. Leela ensures that she has 10-13 varieties of each. “Flower gardens can transform an ordinary space, and flowering plants make for eye-popping borders,” she adds.
Leela says that one must choose the type of flowers based on hardiness, colour, fragrance, height, time of bloom and size of a plant. It is also important to think about your growing space. Will it be sunny through the day or will it receive shade? Is your soil well-drained and loamy? Or will your plant roots have to fight through clayey soil?
This gardener also spends time on soil fertility. She says, “Whether planting perennials or annuals or seasonals, preparing the soil in advance will help your plants flourish.”
She makes sure that soil is free from pesticides. She prefers using kitchen waste to make compost. To control pests too she relies on natural remedies such as spraying neem oil, turmeric powder or cow urine mixed with water.
Choosing the right kind of pot is also important, she says. “The pot must have minimum drainage and a moderate space to hold soil,” she says.
Apart from her flower patch, she has a vegetable garden that includes tomatoes, brinjal, leafy vegetables, chilly, ginger, turmeric and capsicum. She says its harvest is enough to feed her family.
Leela spends two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening tending to her garden. She also takes times to promote organic gardening in the neighbourhood. In the garden, she spends her time writing poems and doing embroidery.