CHENNAI: For the Jayaramans, farming and gardening run in their blood. G Jayaraman and his wife Neela, residents of Sainikpuri in Hyderabad, grew up in houses with gardens. Jayaraman’s grandfather had acres of land where many varieties of trees grew, mainly coconut. He even owned a mill that extracted oil from the coconuts.
In their own garden, the Jayaraman's grow fruits including sapota, coconut, banana, lemon, mango, pomegranate, custard apples, avocados and wonder berry. They have grown watermelon, sweet potato, ladies finger, beans and brinjals before.
They also have flowers like hibiscus (red, pink, white, maroon layered variety), paarijaatham, jasmine (regular, layered, bud variety), rose (red, pink, white, yellow, mixed colour) and pinwheel flower. Neela has a soft spot for roses. She talks about a particular red rose plant that flowers every time their son comes home from another city. “That plant never disappoints us. It might be a coincidence, but still makes us happy,” she says.
Their daughter, Sowmya, says, “I started helping my mom in gardening when I was around 17 years old. We love organic vegetables and fruits from our own garden and she has a special love for flowers. We have grown all kinds of vegetables and fruits according to the season.”
Explaining how they take care of their garden’s bounty, Jayaraman says, “We avoid chemicals as far as possible and try to use eco-friendly alternatives. We use cow dung as fertiliser and a solution of turmeric powder and water as pesticide. It’s important for plants to get sunlight, and we should provide drip irrigation to save water. We bought a few tree varieties and hybrid flowers from a nursery. The remaining seeds came from the fruits and vegetable we ate.”
‘Gardening gives us peace’
Talking about their love for gardening, Neela says, “Gardening gives us mental peace. My husband offers flowers from our garden to God every day for pooja. I take care of the plants as if they are my children. Parrots are regular visitors here. Once, even a peacock flew into our garden.”