For the virgin gardener!

A plant as a pet raises quite a few eye brows.The word ‘pet’ only brings to mind a cute little pup, a kitten, a bird or some other member of the animal kingdom.

We act as though killing and eating animals is cruel. Yet destroying plants for consumption is looked at as being healthy- read vegetarian. Of course, cutting trees, of late, has been chastised as a crime. I suppose, the perils of doing it is felt on the skin, the air and everywhere.

But how about the little ones- the ones that live and breathe inside pots to bear flowers and fruits for us. We justify it by saying that they will die anyway, and so — who are we to pre-pone their demise?

Why do people cherish the pets of the animal kingdom? Because they make you healthy, happy and wanted? But I think that all of this is true from my plant kennel too. Be it a huge farm panning hectares of land or a small balcony garden.

It is the little things that make our daily lives so much better, richer and more luxurious. For me, gardening falls in that category.

To wake up to plants and flowers smiling at you from your window sill

The fragrance of flowers that lifts your mood, switches on the plug of nostalgia

The color wheel when they bloom, making one question which palette of colors was our creator with when he made each one of them

The curiosity and surprise to see if the seed has germinated the next morning

The joy of seeing the tiny tot hands up from the soil, waving you a hello

The positivism it brings in you, is real but intangible.

And so the pain

When insects hurt them

When rains break them

When sun kills them

The efforts to resurrect and the joy to see them back smiling at you.

But little did I know, each one of them carries a strong character like each of us until I got my hands dirty. The one size fit all rule of ‘enough sunlight and daily watering is just nonsense’. While some love shade, some need only heat from the sun and no light. While some wilt if you don’t water, a few smile if you don’t. Some hate sunlight, some just love only that, some like their feet wet but not damp. Some wants a trim, while some just refuses to grow post a cut. Mention not, some don’t even need soil to grow.

I hail from two generations of family who have gotten their hands dirty with plants — my mother and grandmother. The latter always genuinely had fostered love for them. And the former — found gardening to be a while lot of unnecessary hard work. Like many of us, what we do for a living is not always what we have at heart.I grew up seeing both of them but my love for plans as similar to one my grandmother had nurtured.

I have a small balcony space, which I call by many names- botanical lab, meditation center (yes, gardening can be a very mindful and meditative process for many), a space of joyousness, a place to rejuvenate after meditating on electronic screens for hours, a spot of pain (when plants die or never germinate), an abode for resilience (when they resurrect and crops up just randomly, and a place to explore and experiment my dream in little installments.

And what is my big, lofty dream?

Someday, to have a beautiful garden filled with colorful flowers, lush green carpets, beautiful creeping wines, an organic boost of healthy veggies and fruits, and squirrels and butterflies and all it takes to have their natural eco system.

May be, it sounds ‘fairy tale-ish, perhaps even cliched, especially in this time when every inch of land seems under the crutches of greedy real estate companies. Yet I still cherish this dream and will work towards every day till my heart says “NO”

The cycle from seed to sapling to flower to fruit and back to seed, to me it symbolizes hope, happiness and the cycle of life

Try it out. On a lazy Saturday after, lift a small pot, a couple of handful of soil, a little water and a garden implement of choice and a few seeds, well planted, of course referring to a YouTube video and see if it is your cup of tea. Your own little pot of joy!

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