Time was ripe in 1998 to move out into the large house built between 1910-12 by my great grandfather at Lakshmipuram. The tenant that lived for 47 years had not utilized the yard space around it to its best. My exposure to shrubs and trees and the joyful experience of having soiled the hands and feet with earth at Chamarajapuram was to keep me in good stead for more work to do and with more freedom now. Like this:
Sweeping huge leaves of Almond Tree that sheds them twice a year.
Computers were soon to change the way almost everything functioned. The digital era was blossoming. It was July 2001. Internet connectivity to my work place had just arrived and even within my reach. E-mails were already familiar and film cameras were giving way to digital cameras.
It so happened that around the same time I had an urge to list down plants and trees that grew in the yard, just to count the number. I knew not whatsoever their real names were. My exposure to Botany in 12th class was way inadequate.
My zeal to know the botanical names of plants around left me wondering where to search and how to go about? Aid came in the form of the Head of the Gardening Section in my workplace, Mr.Yadava Rao. He recommended "Complete Gardening in India", a book considered as a Bible to gardeners and authored by the renown K.S.Gopalswami Iyengar. Since he referred this huge book often, he had 'permanently borrowed' from our office library. Mr.Rao was kind enough to lend it whenever I required. That was the starting point in the identification process because I could actually find 'my plants' in it.
I could now put names to my plants. My listing.
That was not enough. I also turned to the web and 'googled' to find clues in databases of various sites. I learnt so much more in this process.
In my e-searches, a particular website was showing up often. It was DAVE'S GARDEN - DG in short.
Familiar header I see everyday! See the slogan.
Plant database was not the only thing. I discovered that discussions about them also went on. And much more. I was drawn to the discussion fora, like a bee to a flower. I signed up instantly. It did not take long to realize that I was amongst a most helpful, knowledgeable and magnificent group of people.... that also gardened! Dave Whitinger was the man behind this and I was #2747th member to sign up. Instinctively I chose my screen name, the same what people call me.
Dave had not dreamt, that eleven years on, that the number of members would be an astronomical figure. DG is now a world-wide phenomenon among gardeners. He had only intended as his own garden journal and plants database. This DG was a wonderful thing, in toto.
With no computer at home, I was 'cyberslacking'. DG had soon become addictive to the extent of having even dreamt of Dave once!. I called it 'Dave-dreaming'. Dave responded when I informed about it saying he was honoured!
I had now started to improvise on my own 'plant diary' with little diagrams.
DG's popularity had shot up vertically and there came a stage when Dave had to ask for subscriptions. I am profoundly grateful to the "Garden Angels" which has since kept me on gift subscriptions with such generosity that can be called 'human'. I am stuck to DG like chewing gum! I have learnt many aspects and even types of gardening, leave alone the names of plants and trees, but of insects, weather, temperature zones and a host of other things as well, almost from nought, just by involving and interacting in some discussion fora.
Seed trading was another beautiful activity on DG. Gardeners love to spread the seeds far and wide and love to see a green world. My first seed trade was with the young Evert Nylund of Finland. He was a very talented boy, just 14 and knew about plants like a veteran! It is a great thrill to see seeds from other parts of the world growing here. Some thrived and many failed to germinate which disappointed me. But I learnt my lessons in asking for seeds. I realized I was over enthusiastic. I put brakes to my 'want list'.
Because of DG, my shelf got filled with containers having seeds from my own garden and trade packets! I started collecting them for giving away. My Clitoria double blue was a great hit.
I used to meet an old Anglo Indian lady by name Mrs. Brown. She was fond of plants. No sooner than her old BiL died, she suddenly left the house to live with his son. This happened in 1988 and I did not get to know about her again. I've a blogpost on "Browns" [click to go there]. I cherish a couple of plants she gave me in 1985. A Geranium also lived for many years. I show two of them from her garden, still in my garden.
Viola odorata - a small plant.
DG helped me discover that gardening is one of the holiest and sacredest of hobbies. Every minute you spend, digging, sowing, transplanting, cleaning, nurturing, pruning, watering, composting or just sitting amidst the plants, observing the colour and greenery can be a divine experience. You will have colourful and curious insects to observe, pests to bother and lovely birds and butterflies to entertain too. I'll tell more about the bird bath in a separate post and what a joy it is to see the birds play in water!
I created this board from an old wooden plank. I would not have done if I had not seen the fora at DG. New ideas propped up. What was possible was thrown light upon. DG gave rise to another DG, half way round the earth. See:
I have also blogged about it in my 'junk blog'. [click]
This quote by Sir George Bernard Shaw impressed me. I painted it for display in 'my garden'. I have found out that digging [for/in] the garden is divine!
Two of my favourite tools that help me 'seek God' in my garden!
It was a more or less bare front yard when we moved. It was like this in the following picture of 1999. See the wide foot path outside and a Mysore Tonga happily passing by. Sparse traffic, road not yet widened.
I started in my own layout plan to grow plants. Note the median in the road now. Most of the foot path was also eaten by the road 4 years later.
My 'greening' efforts was soon successful. A pond came in there later. There will be a separate post on ponding.
DG was to become the launchpad for my interest in Photography also.