Peace of green

A feeling of restful calm wraps itself around me whenever I enter my sister Amoo’s home. It emanates from the lush greenery that flourishes wherever she is. Her green fingers can coax plants from stony ground and turn dun-coloured earth into a carpet of colours.

It was not always so. During our childhood, Amoo showed no inclination towards gardening. Marriage to an army officer changed this. Field work separated them often and, during the long and lonely hours, she turned to plants to instill colour into her life. The ‘khalasi’ was there to give her a helping hand. Not an ace-gardener, he however knew a thing or two about growing things. He cleared a bramble-covered patch of land and planted tomatoes and groundnut. The virgin soil responded magnificently and the yield was handsome. Amoo found herself distributing the crop, even sending some of it home. All this enthused her so much that she ventured into growing flowering plants. Not one of them was exotic; they were all native to the soil and hardy in character. With just a little care, they flourished and bloomed in all hues and sizes. Flamboyant zinnia, sunny marigold and multi-coloured, cream-eyed verbena blossomed side by side and drew admiring looks.

Moving to Bangalore added an edge to her passion. The area adjoining the entrance to the house is covered in a conglomerate of bright and showy flowers. Amoo does not believe in separation and segregation. Mixed together are marigold, chrysanthemum and impatiens. Enclosing this is a border of St Joseph lilies in pink and white. Together they make a stunning spectacle. The manure she uses is home-grown — compost made of egg-shells, vegetable peels, tea and coffee dregs and a rather secret ingredient, horse-dung collected from Cubbon Park during early morning walks!

Nothing exotic, nothing expensive, she explains, adding that plants respond to love, touch and, yes, even to music. Going by the results, it is nothing but the truth.
The other day, her granddaughter brought home a return gift from a birthday party. It was a pot of African lilies. Amoo was thrilled. “What a thoughtful gift,” she exclaimed, “a piece of green!” “And the peace of green too,” I added, but she was out of ear-shot, having hurried off to find her newest prize a safe and sheltered niche in her beautiful garden.

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