Green thumb gardening is a myth. It’s a developed skill which comes by experience. P. Sujatha Varma talks to a few plant growers and landscapers who relied on trial and error method to master the art

If you have been keeping away from digging, dunging, mounding, mulching, seeding, watering and weeding, precisely because you thought you just don’t have a green thumb, think again.

“None of us do. When it comes to growing plants, there are no inherent talents, no divine gift, possessed by only a few persons. If you ask me, balancing a check book – there’s a skill you’re born with but making plants grow? We all start off as equals,” says Ch. Gayathri, an enthusiastic plant grower and a landscaper.

Narrating initial hiccups, she talks about purchasing five big, robust flower varieties and succeeding in killing three of them. “I planted them at the front of a side bed in part shade, which I thought was perfect in my soil. Somewhere along the line, I got their cultural requirements confused with other saplings I had picked up on the same trip.”

Today, the lady is unstoppable when a conversation is about water, vegetables, fruits, flowers, roots, nuts or grains. She is asked for advice on gardening matters, typically from friends, neighbours, acquaintances or even utter strangers who walk past her front yard garden while she is puttering and muttering nearby.

“At the risk of sounding philosophical, I must admit that gardening teaches us to love life in all its forms,” she says.

Talk of a friend or a neighbour who plops anything into the ground anywhere and it blooms… crazily and Gangisetty Nageswara Rao has an answer. “There are always a number of essential factors at work in these situations. They either spend a lot of time creating good garden soil while you are on vacation or completely unbeknownst to them and purchased property old enough,” he says with a smile.

Nageswara Rao runs Sri Durga nursery near Ashoknagar bus stop. “Gardening, like many other things in life, is merely a developed skill and nearly everything I know about gardening is what I taught myself. It was a trial and error experience, at times more error than anything else,” he admits, helping customers decide on the plant they want to carry home.

T. Madhusudan Rao, a former Chartered Accountant, has moved away from the city’s concrete jungle and settled at Tenneru village to indulge in his favourite pastime-- organic farming.

“Of the 300-odd varieties of plants I have, nearly 100 are medicinal and herbal. It’s a complete organic expanse where I use my own compost. I have always felt the need to stay near greenery. Gardening is not only a form or relaxation, the picture is soothing to the eyes as well as the mind,” he says.

Rao sources saplings from wherever possible. “I get them from Kadiam, Hyderabad or Bangalore.

Yamini Padmanabhan married young and soon became busy with her job as mom. But the years flew by and she soon found herself longing for something else. She began to read books on gardening and planner her designs before experimenting.

“The more I learned, the more there was to learn and she learned the hard way that picking flowers simply because they are pretty isn’t always worth the trouble. “Instead you should try selecting plants that are suitable for the garden and your particular region. Try zeroing on easy-care plants,” she insists.

Yamini has developed into a bona fide garden junkie and has garnished her home with greenery. Ask her if it is tough to grow plants and pat comes the answer: “Not at all. They need soil that drains well, will thank you for some shade in the afternoon and you would be wise to allow for a bit of a dry-down between waterings.”

Green thumb? Hardly.