CHENNAI: For Nori Sailaja, it’s not apples that keep the doctor away, but her medicinal herbs garden. Spread across 100 sq yards at her villa in Langar Houz, her garden has Samudra Pala (elephant creeper that treats soreness and swelling), Madhunashini (Gymnema Sylvestre, Podapatri in Telugu) which keeps diabetes in check, and Nelavemu (Green Chiretta) that treats bacterial and intestinal infections. Talking about how her garden serves as the neighbourhood medicine cabinet, Shailaja says,“Lifestyle problems can be cured at your house. The medicinal plants grown in my garden not just help in curing the ailments in my family, but the neighbours as well.”
Sailaja started gardening five years ago and has not looked back since. “Three-fourth of the plants in my garden were wilting in summer and that convinced me to opt for natural gardening,” says Sailaja. The usage of cow dung and Jeevamrutam prepared by her younger son nourishes her garden. “I dig a pit of 2/2 where
I dump all my garden waste (dried leaves and twigs), kitchen waste (peels and leftover food) and cow dung in layers to make natural manure. It provides 40 per cent extra moisture to the soil which chemical fertilizers fail to do. The garden relies on natural farming which stops the risk of drying up of leaves. Twice a month, I call a gardener to dig pits and fill it with home residues,” she explains.
Apart from medicinal plants, she also grows ornamental plants like lilies, begonia and roses that bring her garden alive with colours in summer and spring. Many-hued butterflies and bees which come seeking the nectar of the flowers add to the beauty of the garden.
Thanking her family for supporting her passion, Sailaja says: “When I am not in the city, my sons take care of the garden.” Sharing a few nuggets of wisdom for budding gardeners, the home gardener says: “Soil should not be exposed to sun rays and rain and this can be achieved by using live mulch and dry mulch. Don’t waste even a single flower or leaf of the garden as its presence creates humus in the soil. Use neem-based products for nourishing the soil”.