I fondly remember my grandfather gardening in our backyard and around our home from my childhood days. We used to have vines of night-flowering jasmines, a couple of yellow elder trees, and a few other flowering plants whose flowers were reserved for garlands that my grandparents used to sow to be used during prayers. They were meant to be put around photos and statues of our Gods & Goddesses. And of course, like every other Indian household, we had a Holy Basil plant. My grandfather used to collect flowers from those plants in the morning, and when it was very cold outside, the task was handed to either my Dad or me. The jasmines used to shed fragrant flowers in our backyard, and the yellow elder trees that grew around our house produced flowers that had sweet nectar in them, which you could suck out from the stalks of the flowers. I remember enjoying drinking nectar from them along with my cousins and friends. Such low effort delights!

I don't remember taking an active interest in gardening in my teen years or in my 20s. When I was a teenager, one of my friends came up with a theory that if we crush some medicinal tablets, dissolve them in water to water flowering plants, we could change the colour of flowers. We tried it on a few plants without success. Now that I have been looking into gardening, I gather it might have been a way to change the pH of the soil to change flower colours, similar to how Hydrangeas change colours according to the acidity of soil—alkaline soil yields pink flowers and acidic soil yields blue flowers.

Since Aishwarya and I moved to London and rented a house that has a small private area that I could garden in, I have been taking an active interest in gardening. Growing fragrant flowering plants has become my hobby since last May. I started with taking care of a Yucca plant that was left by the previous tenant of the flat, learned about pruning dead leaves, and restored it to its full health. After that, I weeded the garden, as the weeds were home to quite a lot of snails that were eating the leaves of the yucca plant and a few other plants that Aishwarya had planted. I left a patch of wall lettuce for them to feed on and set a trap. They would rush to eat the wall lettuce once the sun went down and fell in the trap; next morning, I would dispose of them. Got rid of them half-way through this method and then just sprinkled nematodes to get rid of the rest of them. Garden cleared and ready for new life!

Next we had to decide what plants we should grow in our garden. On our evening walks every time we saw any plants or flowers we liked, we used to identify them via the PictureThis app and prepare a list of plants for our garden. I love fragrant flowers that are blue or violet in colour, and none more so than Lavender. That was the first plant I bought, along with some Campanulas and Osteospermums. We also got a bunch of seeds from our trip to Kew gardens. Kew gardens is the Disneyland of green-thumbed people. Aishwarya bought seeds for vegetables and herbs, and I bought seeds for flowers that had blue or violet flowers. I killed the Lavender plant by overwatering it and bunch of Lavender seedlings by transplanting them too soon; nevertheless, I learned a lot about how to care for plants and how to grow them from seeds along the way. I have successfully maintained 5 Lavender saplings that germinated last June. Very proud of myself for this one, since I was told that Lavenders are tough to grow from seeds. This year I got a Queen Elizabeth rose, a star jasmine plant, and started new batches of Osteospermums and Lobelias. Can't wait to see my garden in full bloom next summer! :)

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. I guess I am a few books away from everything I need!