Gardening is a passion that feeds more than just my soul.
It is the doorway to my home, the jungle for my three kitties and a veggie patch for myself, neighbours and anyone who needs fresh herbs.
Ideally, I wish I could have adopted the little park next to me. Sadly, yet another land grabbing investor has gotten his hands on the site to make way for ugly boxy looking houses. Gone is the spot where the children played soccer. Gone is the feeding grounds for the heron and gone is the grassy green patch that I hoped to plant my sweeping bougainvillea in.
I have had to restrict myself to my garden, a spot I can happily while away my precious time. For a small investment, the benefits are plentiful. I do not keep flowers in the house, I have only to look outside to have natural bouquets rush out to meet me, Not too pleased about the snails but I accept them.
Ideally I would like to go about planting fruits trees in the area. My kids cringe at the thought but in this day and age, that would be a legacy of healthy living, a home for the feathered friends and a good clean environment for all,
I got the little blooms from Uncle Shan at the local Palm Garden Nursery. Needless to say, I am a regular and have converted my husband into a grudging gardener.
On my daily route to work, I used to admire the different bougainvilleas clumped together and vying for space. I used to stare at them until they were out of sight. Imagine my delight when I found an old gentleman parked next to his Mercedes, selling off his babies. I invested in one and this is my return. It fills my eyes and heart with pride and glee. My husband despairs of the neighbour’s fence falling, Thankfully, he is a gardener as well and does not mind the blooms from the bougainvillea or the brunfelsia tree.
On a road trip to Dad’s family in Ladysmith, Dad once, snipped off a stem which he nurtured, planted and grew to magnificence in his garden. I did the same, snipped off and nurtured and here are my babies. They have saved my life as a mother. I saved oodles by sending bouquets to school with the kids for Arbour Day. The neighbor loves this tree and it stands sentinel over my Labrador Chelsea’s final resting place. Strangely, it is a place my kitties gravitate too as well and are often seen sprawling on the grass in the sunshine, content fat cats that they are. I know my Dad is here in spirit, I associate that tree with him, especially today as he would have turned 78, had he been here,
The bulbs here were given to me by neighbor Deon. It has ALWAYS just grown, despite several hair-raising mishaps by the locals who sometimes mow the lawn for me. I cringe when they cut off more than they are supposed to. I volunteer ice water or fresh juice and surreptitiously monitor their mowing prowess.
Come Spring, I want to almost sing out aloud when I see the Jacaranda blooms carpet my garden. We tiptoe through them to reach the main gate. The scent is heavenly and the sight, beauteous. The neighbors dislike that it grows so profusely and threaten to cut it down. Thankfully, they are old and some of them, lazy 🙂
Mango season is anticipated by everyone, especially the one neighbor who values the green ones for pickling. Even the neighbor’s family members request in advance for the fruit. The immediate neighbor easily spots them from her property and knows that she will be receiving the fresh, ripe and luscious fruit. Sometimes, there is far too much. None are allowed to rot as I package them in see-through packages and direct Husband and Son to deliver them to the neighbours, a chore they have not balked against. Same goes for the pregnant pawpaw and banana trees, it is delivered and shared as dessert or for fresh juice.
The curry leaves are a treat especially in an Indian neighbourhood. Love that when I drive into the driveway, the aromas of freshly cooked curries wafts through. I KNOW my son has already given the neighbor these fragrant neem leaves for her pot.
Often I bring them into the office and leave them in the tumblers on the kitchen table for the staff to take home to their families, something they revel in doing.
Huge branches are cut off and taken to the market. I donate them over to the ladies who sit in the baking sun all day, trying to eke out a living with their meager vegetable earnings. It is an instant mutual connection, full of heartfelt gratitude and joy.
I remember when I did the markets to promote AMC Cookware. My centre piece used to be a bouquet of curry leaves. It allowed for easy communication as people touched the leaves and often went away with the centerpiece, bit by bit. Sometimes, I would package the leaves and share it with the traders. Amazing how this simple act brought people together and got them talking of olden days when they cooked food on an outside fire, their spices and herbs, laying on a table nearby.
It is almost rare to see a banana tree prosper in a garden, let alone THREE. The banana leaves are requested by the “once a year girl”. I call her that because she knows us but once a year and that is to secure an unbroken leaf for their prayer.
As with most Indian households, it is common to find outside the door and in the garden a “tulsi” plant. It is supposed to ward off evil. It also has amazing healing properties and gives off the most amazing scent which travels through the open doors into my lounge.
Somedays, when I need an added oomph to my day, I nick a few anthuriums for my vase in the office. It sits as a vivid splash on our rather rustic coffee table of pallets.
This year, we were ecstatic that we received butternuts from the garden. It was the religious “fasting” period and the vegetables had spiked in price. That’s where God stepped in and gave us fresh butternuts. The neighbours enthusiastically received their share. We kept the largest for my mother in law, who LOVES garden fresh produce.
Every year, she gifts us with butter avocadoes from her generous tree, bags of them. That too, is shared. I bring them to the office and sit them on the workspaces. It is a pleasure to witness my colleagues joy. They sell for a premium price at the local Veggie Warehouse where all the banters flock.
Almost all of my plants have special meanings, some of them, especially planted in remembrance of my lost loved ones. I never feel alone. Often out of the blue, a beautiful butterfly flutters past and I know, just know that something momentous or monumental is about to occur. Often it is a reassuring presence that I am not alone as I think myself to be.
I often make quick snacks for my hungry husband. From the garden, I carefully snip off the shallots and chillies and use them in my batter to make fresh chilli bites. The mint, curry leaves and thyme is used for breyani for the family. Daughter Jade favours the parsley for the roast chicken.
Not really an exercise person, I make gardening part of my exercise routine, killing two birds with one stone here! Even the littlest spot can be converted for a miniature garden. My window sill often holds babies as I wait for their roots to appear. Plants are shared and given away as gifts and tokens of remembrances. The bonsai comforts me at work and the other “silver ladies”, cacti and aloe is shared with the other colleagues.
Love, love, love that I can do this.