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Winkle Mathias, the apostle of plants

Winkle Mathias : The green warrior at work  

Winkle Mathias always nurtured a soft spot for trees and plants. Originally, hailing from Mangaluru, the tree lover was brought up in Mumbai and took to carpentry for a living. It was a chance visit to Bengaluru 19 years ago that swept the man off his feet and he continued to stay on here. “I fell in love with this city at first glance. It was brimming with greenery. Today, it looks more like concrete jungle,” laments the man.

“People are selfish, they don’t realise the pain they are causing for themselves and the next generation. They are collecting logs by destroying nature and it gets burnt by somebody with a match stick. Unfortunately, it is not they who will suffer, but the next generation,” observes Winkle, who gives complete credit to his grandparents for instilling the love of nature in him at a very young age.

Winkle Mathias, the apostle of plants

“They would go into the forest foraging for food and collect mushrooms and greens. I would accompany them and would be in total awe of the greenery around me. It was fun to collect wild flowers. Little did I know those memories would trigger such passion in me one day,” recalls Winkle. He then started the Down To Earth company, in HBR Layout, Kalyan Nagar, which aims at using eco-friendly material that is easily available and is into landscaping and terrariums using plants and moss of every kind.

“Did you know that if we don't protect the touch-me-not-plants they may soon go extinct? They are considered weeds and people are weeding them out,” states Winkle, who now cultivates these plants and talks to children about them and their benefits. “I talk to them about plants having feelings too and this plant expresses it the best. It closes its leaves and bows down when touched. What pains me most is when children and adults just pluck out a branch while playing or walking. I would love to give them a touch-me-not and tell them that it hurts the plant. None of us would like our hair to be pulled, right?”

Winkle believes we can sensitise children by exposing them to nature. “It is better to get them addicted to nature rather than gadgets,” he says. To propagate his love for nature he bought some barren land in Nelamangala 16 years ago and set out to create a green space on a two-and-half acre of rocky patch. “I picked up a few chickens and ducks and started visiting gujaris to buy a bath tub for the ducks. It was placed it in such a way that they could enter it easily. The land turned greener by the day and slowly I added a shed and planted a few trees following the sun’s patterns, so that the movement of the sun would create enough shade for the animals through the day,” beams the green warrior.

Winkle Mathias, the apostle of plants

Earthy office

Even his office is earthy. It is made from natural material such as bamboos, cane, earthen pots and jute to name a few. The terrace is dotted with terrariums of every size and even miniature landscaping. “I blend with nature and most of the projects I undertake are done with natural materials. The only problem is that these are so easily available that we have taken them for granted,” observes the man, who adds he can create anything green even if you give him stones, sand, moss or even waste.

Winkle loves to travel and observe nature, “especially the way a rock hangs out of a mountain or the manner in which water flows between rocks. These are the images that are captured in my heart and recreated in bottles and miniature landscaping in pots and bowls.”

Winkle Mathias, the apostle of plants

Landscaping is a huge part of his achievement. When he started it, he noticed that people “build their homes more for their neighbours than themselves. I want to change that notion. We will give you easy plants that will not shed leaves nor die out. And, even if it dies out, I will take it and nurture it back to life and give you a healthy plant,” assures Winkle, who has given quite a few gardens and balconies a facelift using natural light, plenty of plants and trees. “I believe a home can look gorgeous with greenery and natural material.”

Winkle plans to conduct classes with the “focus on how to use discarded pots, pans, ladles and even books to grow plants.” Winkle would also like to educate people on how to water plants. “We think we have to give a plant a head and a body bath. It is not necessary. You have to understand which plants need more water and which do not. Once you get your hands dirty, you sure are going to get hooked on to gardening.”

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 10:02:06 AM |

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