Planting a seed of happiness

Planting a seed of happiness

You don't make a garden; a garden makes you. And it all begins with a single plant.

It all begins with a single plant. You have it because someone either gifted it or you bought it on a whim. You look at it and wonder how on earth a small plant can change your world. You check on it once a day to see if it has survived. You know that it will give out a new leaf if things go well. But it wilts in the next few days and you are disappointed.

The first experience doesn’t stop you from trying again. You want to set right the wrong. A few days later, you venture out to buy a new one. This time, you ask the nurseryman and friends who have a garden how to take care of it. You look at it twice a day and make sure things are going well. The plant survives, and you feel confident to buy a few more.

Bright spots

You clear the clutter on the balcony to accommodate the new arrivals. You invest in a stand, new pots and planters. You also join groups, watch YouTube videos, browse through endless feeds about plants to know more. The plants enjoy the attention, look lush and healthier. Your interest grows and kindles you to experiment with new techniques in propagating and growing. The balcony overflows, but that doesn’t deter you from buying a few more plants. Gardening is a weakness.

Plants big and small now occupy the bright spots of your living space. With every new arrival, there is a bond growing between you and them. You start spending more on planters, water cans, fertilisers, insecticides, and tools for grooming and maintaining. You spend more on them than yourself. Gardening becomes your priority.

In a few years, you are in the midst of a sprawling mini green forest of your own. Every leaf and flower brings a smile. You are now familiar with their growth patterns. You made a few mistakes along the way, but you have worked your way around it. You are no longer an amateur.

Your morning cup of coffee begins here. The moment you enter, every plant vies for your attention. With a whiff of their fragrance, Hoyas and Jasmines call you. You are familiar with the language: sad leaves indicate thirst, fading yellow is a sign of excess water, brown spots may be an infection or too much sun.

Comfort zone

You learn the little tricks. In this world, pinching is good. It coaxes them to grow further. Plants grow well when you give them ample space. Helicopter parenting will not work here. You celebrate every change the garden brings. Despite all the preventive measures, the cusp of seasons bring infections. You wipe, clean, spray and prune. You are happy when they survive the bad days. You pat them when they spring back.

The garden becomes your comfort zone where you walk in and out a multiple times. You feel fresh and motivated. You tell them your joys, pains, and sorrows. You are sure they can listen, although they don’t answer in your language. You take a breezy nod for a yes. You spend time more time here than with your fellow humans.

Birds, bees, butterflies, and insects also come visiting. There is a soft thrum in the background all day long. A mini ecosystem now thrives in a place that was empty and boring a few years ago. You watch in wonder when birds build nests. The fledglings are forever hungry, and you wonder what goes on in the mind of the parent birds when they take wings. Butterflies, caterpillars, pupa, and butterflies again; you watch the cycle over and over.

The textbook biology and botany that you failed to remember is etched in memory now. You wonder how evolution painted so many colours in hibiscus and lilies. You want to capture them all in a photograph. You find meaning in every movement of a leaf. It stirs a creativity that you never knew you possessed.

The greenery has changed you. You find yourself aware of the environment. You want to contribute in some way to save it. You become vocal about practices that help in sustainable living. You are conscious of what you use and throw. You realise that your contribution, however small, will go a long way in saving the environment. You know how it all began. You gift a plant. You don’t make a garden. A garden makes you.

Motley Garden is your monthly pot-pourri of observations and lessons from gardening and nature.

The author is a botanical artist from Bengaluru. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @neelavanam

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