CHENNAI: When her son Teja was ten, Yashoda Prasad had to make a tough choice — give space for him to play on the terrace or grow more plants. But luckily she had passed on her ‘green genes’ and he happily gave up his play area for more plants. "In fact, he was the one who tended to the plants," recalls Yashoda.
Yashoda’s grandparents are into agriculture, so it wasn't too surprising that this Higher Grade Assistant in Life Insurance Corporation of India at Hyderabad took to gardening like a fish takes to water. Her favourite colour is green and her special hangout spot is her garden in her two-storeyed home at ECIL crossroads.
Although as a child she kept moving towns and shifting homes owing to her dad's transferable job, her bond with plants remained unchanged.It has been five years since they moved to ECIL, and she is happy that she has her own independent home where she can plant all that she wants. Her teenage kids Navya and Teja and her husband Prasad also lend a helping hand.
She credits her family and the Facebook group called ‘Intipanta’ for helping her stay green. The Facebook group, she says, is a support group that suggests techniques for house gardening, watering and maintenance.
Her terrace is a verdant space, with a wooden plank that supports climbing creepers and hanging pots. Softdrink bottles and plastic takeaway containers that typically end up as garbage in most houses get a dash of paint and become little homes for plants. The sweet smell of flowers mingles with the fragrance from a lighted agarbathi after the morning puja, instantly transporting you into a different natural world.
The terrace hosts various plants such as crotons, cactii, vegetables and leafy vegetables.
Through Intipanta, an initiative of the horticulture society, Yashoda has received seeds from gardeners in other states. “Rita Borgali from Ludhiana sent me the seeds of pink lillies, Preethi from Bengaluru sent cactus varieties and Shridhar Thillai Rajan sent jasmine from Kerala,” says Yashoda.
She has over 500 plants in her garden. Roses, hibiscus and chrysanthemums in multiple colours take your breath away. Her garden also boasts of bittergourd, cucumber, brinjal, capsicum, cabbage, cauliflower, ginger, onion plants and almost all the leafy vegetables, so that she does not have to visit the grocery store often. Every alternate day, her family members take turns to water the plants. Sundays are all about cleaning it inside out and easily consumes half a day.
“With the whole garden spread across the penthouse and roof, it is tough to maintain it especially when it rains heavily through the monsoon. However, I collect water and protect them from the insects… I never use artificial pesticides. Instead I use kitchen waste, butter milk, neem oil, wood ash and so on, which works as a great natural manure,” she says. When she comes back home after work and puts her feet up with a cup of coffee, all the effort seems totally worth it, she says.