Mythily Napoleon’s garden can be emulated in every house

Each time Mythily Napoleon transfers the seeds of ornamental plants to the pots, she looks up the calendar for an auspicious time to perform a puja. Wielding knives and forceps, she pulls out tiny saplings and transplants them into bigger pots. As she walks through her sprawling 20 cent garden, she grafts and trims wherever required. This has been her routine for the past 15 years.

“I want every seed to grow into a plant,” she says, “that is why I prefer the day after the new moon and auspicious time,” says Mythily Napoleon.

Every day Mythily spends three hours in the morning before she leaves for her special school where she takes care of 75 special children.

After returning in the evening, she straight heads for the garden. “The sweet scent of flowers and the cool breeze energises me to work in the kitchen,” she says. The weekends are fully dedicated to the garden.

Five hundred varieties

Where ever she goes, Mythily Napoleon searches for nurseries, designer pots and her favourite Adenium plants and cacti. At 58, she took a computer course to learn to use the internet and email and picked up techniques for grafting, cutting, reproducing and tent-making. Fifteen years ago, Mythily Napoleon was attracted to gardening seeing her co-sister Lalitha Arumugasamy.

Today her garden is home to 100 varieties of cacti and an equal number of Adenium varieties, 30 kinds of hibiscus, ficus and cicus palms. She also has different kinds of ornamental and flowering plants and trees like Mantharai, fig, banyan, nolina, royal palm, manoranjitham, bottle brush. She stocks about 3,000 to 4,000 saplings of all kinds of all kinds and has three-decades-old cactuses which act as mother plants.

“I watch the pots everyday for the beginning of germination. Once the sapling emerges, it fills me with joy.”

Mythily Napoleon’s gifts are always plants. Be it a birthday or a house warming ceremony, she presents her saplings in pots. Whenever the plants bloom, my friends thank me to says how it has changed their home environment and helped in de-stressing.

Apart from neighbours and friends, if people come to her house asking for saplings, she charges a token amount from them. “If it is given free, people may fail to maintain it. Whatever I collect from them, I use it for my school.”

Given the ground water situation and failed monsoon, Mythily buys water to maintain her garden with much love and care. “We should teach children,” she says, “to grow plants in the available space.” “Gardening helps to channelize habits and understand the importance of nature.” She adds.

Mythily also does composting by collecting the garden waste such as dry leaves, flowers and vegetable waste and puts them into a pit. She gets the natural manure for her plants every six months. Only when necessary, she uses chemical fertilizers minimally for the Adenium plants.

“For me,” she says, “gardening is much more than just a hobby, it attunes me to nature.”