Vasumathi Raghunath has never had any landscape professionals advise her on garden makeover, it's her creative visualisation and ingenuity that has helped her bag the 16 {+t} {+h} award in a row (‘Small Ornamental Garden' in the Home Garden Category given by the Mysore Horticultural Society, Lalbagh). It is eight years since this Horticultural Society has been rewarding her efforts during its Independence Day and Republic Day green awards. Ask Vasumathi how she feels bagging them tirelessly and she chuckles, “I get it in the small residential garden grouping and since I breathe and think with plants, it's more of a lifestyle for me living with my 500 green babies. Lalbagh's recognition is nothing but an impetus to look forward to receiving the 25 {+t} {+h} prize from them for celebrating the green silver jubilee.”

Vasumathi's obsession and fascination for variety in her garden is but infectious. “You live in an apartment?” she asks, “Just dedicate spaces according to the sunlight and semi-shade areas available and choose ornamentals and the perennial flowering ones to bring colour through the year. Living in flats and organising your indoor and outdoor green is also a challenge. Everything can be done with study and observance.”

Recently Vasumathi's informal talk about her garden maintenance at the Lalbagh Senior Citizens Club President V.R.Seshu's residence had her delve into easy maintenance issues and how one can bring in saplings from anywhere and excitingly watch them grow. “There are varieties where one needn't spend too much, and others where one could spend minimum amounts.”

Green indulgences are a hobby for de-stressing, she says.

Coming to the economics of the leisure pursuit, what Vasumathi spends on her nearly 40 x 40 garden space (in the 60 x 70 plot) is an approx. Rs. 25,000 annually which takes care of her gardener, water, fertilizers and sprays, and re-potting once in a while.

“Rainwater harvesting helps me tackle the water needs, and leaf manure is what I handle at home.”

Her collection sports a rare variety of Carolina Jasmine from the U.S., along with nearly 350 other ornamentals.

“Every other kind of Indian Jasmine — Sooji mallige, Rama Bana, Mulle, Iruvantige, Gundu mallige and Nitya mallige — spreads a distinct aroma when I sit in the shade here,” she says.

Ranjani Govind