Monday, 30th October 2017

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My garden

Nothing can keep Rita Biswas away from her garden

By Brinda Sarkar in Calcutta
  • Published 22.06.19, 10:10 PM
  • Updated 22.06.19, 10:10 PM
  • a min read
Rita Biswas arranges Dahlias on her terrace (Prithwish Karforma)

Nothing can keep Rita Biswas away from her garden. Being a social worker, she is busy round the clock. She also had a fall last year that causes her legs to ache. Despite the odds she feels compelled to spend at least 20 minutes with her plants every morning. While most of the greens are in the terrace, her front yard is verdant too, with an imposing Nilmonilata climbing up the house.

I was into interior decoration previously and so I’m particular about how and where I place my pots. I keep plants of a kind in clusters so they look uniform and also ensure the heaviest pots on the terrace are placed right above the beams. That reduces pressure on the building. I also want to keep the terrace floor safe from getting damp so keep the pots on a raised level.

I have a vast collection of Lilies such as Ball Lilies and Butterfly Lilies and in a host of colours. There are also Tuberoses, Passion Flowers, Jasmines and of course the lovely Nilmonilata that has climbed to my terrace from the ground floor. My daughter says it might be a security risk, in case someone decides to climb it up, but I don’t have the heart to fell it.

I have an extensive vegetable corner where the Barbattis grow up to 22 inches, Lady’s Finger nine inches and Jhinge 12-13 inches. Some winters the Potato plants yield up to 27kg of Potatoes.

There area also herbs like Mint (Pudina) and Lemon Grass. Although Lemon Grass adds a lovely flavour to Thai soups, I grow it primarily as it wards off mosquitoes.

In the past I had got seeds from the US to grow flowers like Azelea and vegetables like bell peppers but they didn’t survive in Salt Lake’s climate. In fact this year has been so hot that even my Lal Shak and Cucumberplants died.

Initially, we had two Coconut trees of the Kerala variety in the backyard. They were orange in colour, held as much as 600ml of water in each fruit, and their exterior was so soft we could cut them with knives. When houses around us started coming up, the sunlight got blocked and the trees died. But we have fond memories of them. My daughter would hold picnics in the terrace with her friends where they would have freshly plucked coconut water from the garden.