I had shifted to an apartment complex in this final phase of my life for security reasons. All my life, I had lived in banglows and maintained great gardens. Alas, there was no social media to flaunt the beautiful well manicured spaces. 😞
I was so confident with my green thumb that as soon as I had settled in this new home, I bought few cement pots as terracota pots need frequent replacement. As an old follower of the new anthem of “Vocal for Local” I went to a nearby local plants nursery to buy some plants. There was a space of five pots and I bought 5 plants – Mogra, Bougainville and three crotons of multicolored leaves were selected. I love colours. As we came back home with the plants, it hit me badly that I do not have any soil and manure with me. I had never ever imagined that I will be spending money to buy soil. 😦
Anyway, we went back to the nursary and bought a sack of readymade potting mix. This has doubled up my gardening expenditure. 😦 The local nurseries were asking any price which comes to their mouthand thus making profits to the tune of 150 to 200 times. Anyway, without going into statistics, let us concentrate on potting the plants in my newly bought pots. Finally, after a hard work of almost one hour, I and RB finished the job. The balcony was looking so colourful.
The plants were under constant supervision of RB. He wanted to persue gardening post retirement, so I had handed over this field to him. 😛 He was very regular with watering and adding manure and other energisers sold to us by nursery wala bhaiya. After flourishing for almost 5-6 months, suddenly the plants started dying one by one. My green thumb confidence has got a great jolt. But as they say, failure should be critically analysed, we came to the conclusion that it might be due to the hot loo during peak summers. Since the balcony is east facing and sunlight remains there till around 11 am, we never had an idea that even this will be hot enough for plants to survive.
Heart broken, we got the balcony curtained by those green curtains. Again ready for the next planting drive in coming monsoons. This time, we were very confident of having blooming lush green plants in our small space. With the first shower of the season, we headed to the plant nursary, this time to a new one. In the mean time, I have designed two pot stands in the balcony to have more pots. As the cement pots need regular painting , seeing plastic pots in other apartments, I have also replaced the cement pots and bought 15 plastic pots of different shapes and sizes as per the new additions.
Again, we did the same exercise. The only additional investment was few more hours as number of pots have doubled. This time, we bought soil and compost along with plants. Wiser with earlier experience. The plants became our morning tea companions. I am an outdoor person and during monsoons, most of my time was spent amidst these new plants. They stayed with us for few months and started deserting by year end, again without any reason. One day, they were happy and healthy and suddenly they became sad and gone in few days. 😦 Within a span of a month, almost all the plants were dead. No pest no disease, just like that, they said good bye.
RB had devoted himself to upgrade his knowledge and skills through gardening experts on YOU TUBE. Let me share that I have been the gardner of the family since we became a family. I did this service till RB has taken retirement. I managed my job and home affairs with few helps ( an occassional gardener is one of them). From all these resources, he gathered that the plants from the government nurseries have better survival rate than those from private nurseries.
So we located one forest government nursery in Gandhi Nagar, almost 25 Km from our place. And we went their early morning using Google map only to find that forest nursery do not have plants for pots. Anyway, they guided us to another nursery run by Gujarat government which houses potting plants. next to this nursery was a vermicompost plant which sells it in 5 kg packs at Rs. 30 while the private nursery people were selling it for anything between 30 – 50 Rs per 500 gm. There were crotons, baouganvillea, spider plants, money plants, snake plants etc. but not the ornamental plants like Acacia palm etc. The price range varies between Rs.10 – Rs. 40 . While the private nurseries around our place were selling a humble moneyplant for Rs. 30 – 100. It felt like aladin ka chirag kind of feeling. We bought more than what we needed and came back home with few new tips from the attendents at the nursery.
Again the same drill for almost 4 hours. These plants crossed the whole winter season and were growing well. As they were growing beautifully, I was very excited to post pics of greenery and flaunt my green thumb again. I had planned a balcony makeover too and plan to put artificial grass. I was going through different decorated balconies which really looked beautiful, I fail to find any practical and comfortable sit out for myself. I mean the kind of seating which I find relaxing and comfy. So I thought of creating my own comfort zone which will be of practical use. But it was not to be. For no apparent reason, again our green babies bade us good bye one after the other, barring few.
This time was not so heart breaking. I have understood that this cycle will go on. Some plants will remain awhile most will be dead, so instead of mourning, it’s good to get new plants after few pots were empty. We have decided to stick with money plants only this time.
This March end, after Holi, we again went to the same government nursery. We did plant shopping with a vengeance and came with 40 money plants. This time we thought of taking the help of a mali / gardner. The advantage of living in apartment buildings is that you have ready refernces of every services. We contacted one of them and he was at our place early next morning. He did not like our plants. I can see hatred in his eyes for my plants and huge love for his own plants. I immediately knew that he is not suitable for my plants. Finally, we did the job. Years of experience have come handy and we did the planting of 40 plants in less than four hours. It has been almost a fortnight and as of now all the plants are in good health. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping this time these plants may survive the summers and feel the rains on their leaves. This will rejuvenate them to live a longer life. Long live my plants!
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