Summer is synonymous with vacation. It was only last month that I returned from the Nilgiris, the salubrious mountain ranges of south India. A visit to a local nursery, 'Leebon', neatly tucked away in a picturesque cove by a busy hill highway in the garrison town of Wellington (a hill station near Ooty) made the trip unforgettable. Chitvan Singh Dhillon writes.Updated: Aug 05, 2013 09:18 IST
Summer is synonymous with vacation. It was only last month that I returned from the Nilgiris, the salubrious mountain ranges of south India.
A visit to a local nursery, 'Leebon', neatly tucked away in a picturesque cove by a busy hill highway in the garrison town of Wellington (a hill station near Ooty) made the trip unforgettable. A cobbled path leads to the little fairyland bungalow; wherever you look, on the walls, the windows, the doors, the chimney, everywhere is a carnival of greenery, a rhapsody of sorts that treats the human eye. A small little oval-shaped wooden slab with faded black calligraphy reads "welcome to my garden" and somewhere in the vicinity you spot the octogenarian Mrs Lawrence with her pair of scissors, carefully trimming her prized bonsais.
She took us around her one-and-a-half acres of bountiful greenery, showing us her varied collection of greens and foliage. The saffron hibiscus, pink and purple fuchsias and begonias, and perennials like dahlia, petunias and nasturtiums were all in full bloom, so beautiful and serene. The garden had minuscule pathways, bordered with gorgeous, untamed wilderness on either side, leading to the greenhouses, a treasure trove of sorts. She displays the succulents, the potted ficus varieties, the neatly pruned and aged bonsais in moss-infested clayed trays and the lesser-known varieties of cactus with immense pride.
A short walk down to the second greenhouse nestled in bunches of bird-of-paradise was spectacular. In one corner lay varieties of star ivy and luscious succulents, demanding attention. Turn around and a row of red and white anthuriums greet you; in between lay exotic coleus dwarfs. I chip in and ask does she take her plants for local flower shows? She retorts with a big no! They are like her children, she defends, nurtured with utmost care, can't see them ruined just to please the audience's eye. We step out with a few additions in our basket as she leads us to another greenhouse. The bright blood-red passion flower veil, I identify proudly, and she acknowledges my green knowledge appreciatively.
We spotted sparrows and other birds chirruping away, which gave us immense peace of mind and released our tension away. I could stay here forever, I confess, and she beams and gives out a little laugh.
"Not for sale, appa!", she says politely with a smile, is her personal favourite, the hard-to-maintain tuberose begonia, carefully perched on the windowsill.
While she sits precariously on the makeshift bench billing the plants we've bought, she tells us what clearly began as a hobby transformed into a full-fledged enterprise. Crafting this paradise reflects a great deal of hard work and an unending passion for gardening, you are left to contemplate. In the meantime, I walk around a bit and spot a pretty dwarf plant, brown leaves with pink spots over it, just like a cherry dotted muffin, I ask,"How much for this one?" "For free", she announces with an angelic ear-to-ear smile and puts it in the carton box. Her nursery is a showcase of her green fingers and more importantly, generosity, I tell myself, and bid farewell.