Society

Art of small things

Green consort Lalitha and her granddaughter trimming the leaves; (right) a 35-year-old bonsai Bodhi is one of the oldest plants in Lalitha’s backyard

Green consort Lalitha and her granddaughter trimming the leaves; (right) a 35-year-old bonsai Bodhi is one of the oldest plants in Lalitha’s backyard  

Meet P Lalitha, one of the pioneers of bonsai gardening in the city

“My father introduced me to gardening. He had a taxi business and each time one of his taxis went to a new city, he would bring a new plant home,” says P Lalitha, a bonsai gardener.

About 13 years ago, she attended a three-day bonsai gardening workshop in the city. Since then her connection with flora and fauna has grown deeper. She has more than 400 plants in her home’s backyard and on her terrace.

These belong to 100 different varieties and also includes the 35-year-old Bodhi bonsai plant which is the oldest in her collection.

Catseye and China Pear are the latest additions to her garden.

Lalitha feels patience is the key to gardening. “I planted a lotus bud two years ago, and finally, now we can see a violet lotus budding,” she adds. In 2014, her resolve was truly tested when Cyclone Hudhud left a devastating trail in the city with no water or electricity for five days. “Many plants vanished in the cyclone; but the ones that remained, I made sure they were watered regularly. I drew five buckets of water from the borewell for five days to water my plants.”

Lalitha makes it a point to spend at least two hours every day with her plants.

“When working with plants I forget about myself. I feel it’s important to experience selflessness,” she says. Over the years, Lalitha has built a relationship with her plants . She says, “Every time I go for a vacation, despite someone watering them, some of them don’t survive.” Earlier this month, the trees on her street were being cut down as the road was being broadened. She gave shelter to four such trees, and now, she is working on them to resize them to a bonsai. Lalitha feels that gardens add charm to a house and gardening is a great stress buster.

When she started bonsai gardening, the city didn’t have the specific tools required for it. However, the times have now changed and there has been an increase in the interest for gardening.

In 2009, plant enthusiasts in the city formed Visakha Bonsai Society, which helps beginners understand types of soil, plants, pots and shapes.

The society, which was started with just a handful of members, has today grown to accommodate 60 members. They meet every alternate Saturday and have biannual meetings, where they bring bonsai masters from across India to share their knowledge. “I often gift them to my friends,” says Lalitha and adds, “This has been the best way to advocate gardening.” The beauty of miniature plants is hard to resist.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 11:48:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/art-of-small-things/article24152279.ece

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