Grafting to Gardening

As the medical profession is extremely time consuming, I have always seen my father as a very busy man. We grew up in the midst of last minute cancelled vacations and rushed outings while he devotedly attended emergency night duties and long hours at hospitals.

Today, after nearly three decades, he continues to work just as hard, but has earned the liberty to define his hours of working. My father, finally has the luxury of enjoying relaxed vacations. He has a roaring social circle and takes out quality time to unwind and relax. With leisure of time by his side, my father has discovered a new side to himself. The hands of the doctor are capable of putting many a maalis to shame! He is blessed with green fingers. He has developed quite the fondness for gardening.

It is a pleasure watching him excitedly wake up early on Sunday mornings. He picks up the car and drives off to his favourite plant nursery just outside the city along with his ally, Pataan Bhaiya, who has been our gardener for years and now feels short changed ever since Sahib has started taking special interest in Daffodils and Dahlias. Father is awestruck, much like Alice in Wonderland, looking and admiring different potted plants and inquisitively inquiring about all kinds of creepers and climbers. The seasoned owner of the nursery deftly answers all his queries and puts apprehensions about his beloved plants dying a premature death, to rest. Papa carefully selects plants for his garden, whilst keeping a watchful eye for any signs of yellow, wilting or rotting leaves.

My father’s garden is truly his pride. He knows the names of all his plants by heart. Before planting them, he meticulously chooses for them the right place to grow. Just about any pot or flower bed wouldn’t do. The premium rose variety have been given a grand place at the entrance, while his favourite stalk flowers have to be planted in the coveted flower bed right outside his bedroom. Winters are incomplete without the gorgeous Golden Shower creeper adorning the side grills. The sprinklers are effectively used, making sure that there is not a single patch of yellow in his otherwise emerald green lawn. Tall, majestic eucalyptus trees line the boundary wall of his lush lawns. A corner is dedicated exclusively to vegetables. It is quite a sight to watch him proudly beam when freshly picked vegetables from the garden are cooked and served.

Gertrude Jekyll has summed the love for gardening perfectly. He says, “A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” It certainly holds true for my father. This wonderful hobby has taught him to slow down and appreciate the natures bounties galore. It is miraculous to watch tiny seeds grow into enchanting flowers which bear fruit.
My father’s little green haven brings with it chirping of birds and fluttering of butterflies. It gives us the luxury of plucking fresh fruits from the garden and savouring them. It is therapeutic as it gives my father moments to reflect, and bury his troubles while he digs up dirt. Most importantly, it brings him hope – for tomorrow will bring with it, the birth of a fresh blade of grass, a new bud, a tiny fruit. And this hope gives my father a new lease of life.