Every time I go to my aunt’s place, I’d always wander about in her backyard garden (you couldn’t call it garden anymore as it looks so messy, but the sight of plants and trees excites me, so I love it) and this one time (about three months ago), I saw a betel creeper in her backyard. I was wide-eyed and open-mouthed like a kid would stare at an ice-cream cone with a huge dollop of cream melting down. It was such a beautiful sight - a six or seven foot creeper with big, shiny, dark-green leaves draped over a log that was tied to her windowsill (I guess). From then on I fell in love with creepers - if I see a creeper anywhere on the road, I’d smile at it and admire its beauty (Luckily I never met with an accident doing this while driving - psst… don’t tell my mom or dad about it. it’s a secret between us).
I’ve had very little experience with gardening myself, as we didn’t have much space in our house. Our house is right in front of the road and no sir… no backyard! But my mom loves gardening, so she made a small space to plant something when we rented the house years ago in the small space in front of our house. A beautiful Crape Jasmine or Moonbeam plant, Red Hibiscus, and Holy Basil decorated that space (I must be 7 or 8 years old by then) Later on, few years later people started plucking leaves, rodents took charge, leaves withered, stems weakened and everything tied except the Holy Basil, which too gave up after few more years. My mom became exhausted and couldn’t find time to take care of them in between her busy work at home and it was bye to plants. for years. Three or four years ago mom again tried many holy basils and others, but all would live for few weeks and fall dead on ground. My mom couldn’t bear to see them dying and she stopped planting further. But the Scindapsus Aureus (Money Plants) grew faithfully and beautifully till date.
After I saw that beauty (Betel Creeper) I wanted to renew the abandoned space in front of my house and luckily, my mom got a Betel Creeper from one of our relatives’, which gave birth to our new ‘tiny’ garden. Again, luckily our local Electricity (or now was it Telephone… whatever!) decided to tinker with the underground lines and dug up the ground (first time, in my life, I appreciate them doing this). Wow! That was godsend fresh soil from Mother Earth. One day when I went back home from work my mom filled the new garden space with fresh soil and mixed it thoroughly with the soil that was already in. We then planted the Betel Creeper and another Jasmine Creeper (locally called Sampangi - this is not the usual shrub variety). I loved watering them everyday and would watch them closely. Every time I see a new leaf sprouting, I’d run to my mom to deliver the news (’Ma! It’s sprouted another one!’, ‘Ma! It’s grown an inch’, ‘Ma! That betel leaf has grown bigger). This might sound stupid to you, but for an amateur gardener it’s so exciting.
Then I began studying about plants, trying to learn how they grow, what makes them grow faster, what is the individual requirement of each plant and so on. Two weeks ago unable to contain myself, I ran (I mean drove. DUH!) to a nursery nearby and bought an Ixora (with Red Flowers), Silver Jenny ‘Allamanda’, and a Jasmine Creeper (Still trying to get its botanical or common name in English - called Nityamalli in Tamil).
They were all happy with the new soil and began growing beautifully… Ixora happily blooming deep-red flowers, Silver Jenny with a long, yellow flower every few days, and the Nityamalli was getting ready with its buds. But a really horrible incident happened, which shook me (Literally). One evening (four days ago) I went out to water the plants and I was shocked to see that a small side branch of Allamanda was completely plucked off, same in the case of Ixora, the branch with beautiful budlings from Nityamalli was severed, Money plants lost its leaves and so did the bottom part of Allamanda! And the most horrible thing that happened was a leaftlet and almost the largest leaf from Betel Creeper were plucked off.
Now, who’d have the heart to do such a thing? I was almost silent that night at office. I couldn’t think of anything, but ‘Who could’ve done this?’
The answer to that question remains a mystery till date. I hope whoever did that paid for their actions. It’s almost equal to murdering… Wish I could see that person! I’d break his hands into two! (Grrr…)
My mom said, ‘See that’s what happened years ago and I stopped.’
‘No ma! We can’t just like that stop planting just because some _____ doesn’t want us to!’ I replied and the next day I bought many seeds of different flowering plants, few pots and a floating water plant - Water Hyacinth.
I planted (well, ‘placed’ should be the right word) the Water Hyacinth that very night and it would stand. It kept slanting to a side and one of its branch would sink into the water. I forced it to stand upright with a metal rod and the next day I saw that it forced the rod out of its way and stood in the water proudly. I smiled at it before driving to work.
That night I also sowed Dahlias, Clarkia, Amaranthus, and Strawflower indoors. I’m so nervous as this is the first time that I’m growing something (especially flowering plants) from seeds (Oh! I did grow Ragi during Navarathri for decorations, but other than that I’ve had no experience). Before sowing them I had to lookup many websites to make sure I do it right.
‘Don’t fuss too much. Just sow it in the soil, keep them wet and they’ll grow,’ my experienced mom would say, but I’d shake my head saying,
‘No ma! I wanna make sure I do it right.’ (My mom would roll her eyes)
So I finally got to sow them and let’s pray it germinates soon and grows well.
By the ways, today when came out, I saw that the Water Hyacinth had spread its stems (may be they’re called branches?) out and stood proudly facing the sun. A BIG smile spread on my face. I can’t wait to see their violetish flowers.