Treebay Trees, fruits, flowers and lawns make the aptly named Soundaryam-Santhosham Retirement Homes an idyllic place for its residents

It is a pleasant afternoon at Soundaryam-Santhosham Retirement Homes; a perfect time to take a nap. However, one resident, Balasubrahmanyam, is wide awake. He is out in the garden, tending to his money plants. With gardening skills garnered from books and his own experience, he has converted a 3000 sq ft dry patch of land adjacent to the villas into a lush green space.

There are others like Balasubrahmanyam who are gardening enthusiasts too. Revathi Bhasker has a garden filled with dahlias, marigolds, and kanakambaram. She says she loves having tea sitting in her balcony looking at the trees.

Flanked by the towering Western, the Soundaryam-Santhosham layout is a picture of peace. Colonel (Retd.) A. Sridharan the property developer says, “We have parks, gardens and club houses to make the residents feel young and happy!”

The neems, coconut, rubber plant, Japanese fern, Singapore cherry, the yellow bell-flower and the golden shower trees sway in the mild breeze from the mountains. The compound walls are covered with hot pink hibiscus, yellow, red and violet bougainvilleas and chrysanthemums. The jasmines turn the air heady with their fragrance. Neatly trimmed duranta line the side of the roads. A sea of blue and yellow lantana greets us. Venugopal Nair and his wife Prema Nair have recently moved into this locality from Mumbai. Venugopal says, “I have noticed that all the conversations in this layout begin with the phrase, “‘What a beautiful day!’ With so much greenery around you cannot help but feel positive,” he smiles.

Sivan is the head gardener of the residential area. He is collecting the broken twigs, fallen leaves and flowers of an overgrown hibiscus plant growing inside the compound of one of the houses. “Sivan is the helpline,” says Balasubrahmanyam. He cleans their garden and helps them plant new saplings. “I turn over the soil for the plants and trim the grass regularly,” says Sivan. Leela Ananthanarayan, in her 70s, puts her heart and soul into gardening. She has a beautiful garden with hybrid and natural varieties of hibiscus, roses, bird of paradise flowers, nishagandhi and a lot of hedge plants. Since she has undergone a spinal cord operation, Sivan helps her out with gardening. She shows us the picture of a nishagandhi flower on her tablet. “This bloomed just last night! I was excited and took this picture.” Leela says how she cannot stay a minute away from her garden. “Gardening helps me forget my spinal problems because my mind is engaged with other constructive thoughts- what else can I plant? What plants are to be fertilised? My flowers and trees help me forget my worries.”