CHENNAI:Gardens thrive in certain seasons and certain environments, seems gardeners do too.Retired Major Rajeev from Trivandrum says that the lush green army cantonments inspired him to start on gardening.“I have spent the best part of my life in cantonments, which have always maintained green canopies and colourful gardens. I noticed that every officer in our neighbourhood maintained a lawn and a garden”, says Rajeev.
He did pursue gardening earnestly until after his marriage. Rajeev says that small lessons learnt from neighbours helped him grow a variety of plants.Planning is most important. He says, “Height of plants, size and colour of flowers, and choice of creepers and carpet plants were many considerations while planning the layout. We began with seasonal plants, and the list grew longer every season.”
He was transferred every two years, but he ensured that his dear plants travelled with him. This -- not pests or insects -- has been his biggest challenge in gardening.“We learnt how to transfer potted plants into trucks with minimum damage. Obviously, it was difficult but our top priority, upon reaching the new station, was to take stock of the flower pots,” he says.
After a few years, they started a kitchen garden and the first plant was curry leaves. Pappu Singh, from a farmer’s family, helped the young couple with their vegetable gardening.“He taught us about preparation of plant beds and manure, tips to keep away pests and diseases. We soon had potatoes, garlic, green peas, spinach, ladies finger, brinjal and tomatoes, and all were growing in abundance. We shared our harvest with neighbours,” he says.
Rajeev has an advice to aspiring gardeners: “You need to spend more time with your garden, give all the love and care it deserves. Whatever the schedule you keep, always find sometime for your garden”.
Sweetest plant is jasmine
Every plant is dear to him, but there is one plant that he treasures. “After completing my service in the army, we decided to hand over our precious collection of plants to one of my friends, an Army officer from Thiruvananthapuram,” he says. Among the plants was a jasmine plant which was dear to his wife and had been with the couple for many years. “My friend’s wife also knew about our sentimental attachment to that jasmine plant. Years later, when they moved to back, she informed us that the jasmine plant had been safely brought and we could collect it! My wife’s joy knew no bounds! Today that same jasmine finds a place of pride in their garden,” he says.