Gardening is a therapeutic activity but it isn’t an easy affair. In this fast-moving world, not everyone can afford the time and patience to maintain a garden. Yet, there are a few who do, by making the most out of the limited space or resources they have.
Anil Paul from Patna, Bihar, is one such individual who has been maintaining a terrace garden in his apartment for the past 30 years. His beautiful terrace garden now has over 100 varieties of trees and plants including vegetables, fruits and flowers.
“I started missing the garden that I used to maintain at my previous house. So, I decided to set up a garden on my new apartment’s terrace where we have some space,” Anil tells The Better India.
He says, “Many people in our apartment were inspired by my garden and started growing plants on their terraces. I even taught a few how to do terrace gardening.”
“There are also certain benefits of gardening. You can manage the wet waste from your house by using them as a fertiliser for the plants,” he adds.
A film and serial director by profession, Anil even uses his terrace garden for shooting small scenes of his serials. Additionally, many of his friends in the film industry use his terrace scape for shooting. It is also a favourite hang out for many in his residential society.
“When we started growing plants on the terrace, there were many who raised objections. But now everyone has started appreciating it. Also, many people living in our society, especially the ones who are retired, visit the garden upstairs to spend their evenings. It gives me great pleasure to watch them,” explains Anil.
Anil who started growing ornamental plants on his terrace garden eventually started growing seasonal vegetables and fruits as well. On the 4800 sqft terrace, Anil has occupied just 1000 sqft and grows his plants in pots, grow bags and on a plant bed made 2 feet above the ground.
He grows plum, sapota, orange, pomegranate, strawberry, black guava from Bangkok and an orange variety from Nagpur. “When I bought the sapling of the Nagpur orange from a nursery there, I was told by them that it would not grow in Bihar’s temperature. But after years of hard work and patience, the plant bore fruits,” says Anil.
Anil sources seeds and saplings from wherever he travels and keeps adding them to his terrace garden. He says, “Three years ago, my sister gave me the seeds of the sacred Vaijantimala plant. I planted the seeds in the garden and after about three months the plant sprouted from those seeds.”
Other than fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants, he also grows spices and herbs like cardamom, betel, basil, lemongrass, curry leaves, bay leaves, carom seeds, turmeric, ginger, garlic, etc.
Birds like sparrows, parrots, bulbuls, hummingbirds, etc., are daily visitors who revel in Anil’s terrace garden. He has even planted a mehndi plant to attract the sparrows.
He also grows many rare flowering plants including the common ones like roses, marigold and hibiscus. Bird-shaped flowers called bird-of-paradise, bleeding heart flowers and sacred flowers like Shami flowers are a few among the rare varieties. He also nurtures an 18-years-old adenium bonsai, which is high in demand.
“In the beginning, people used to pluck unripe or half-ripe fruits like lemon or pluck flower buds from my garden. But eventually, they got interested and started inquiring about plants and how to grow them on the terrace. Then many people started planting their saplings. Now every house has some plants or the other on the roof,” he says with a smile.
Apart from growing a terrace garden, he also teaches people to compost. “Waste management is one of the biggest challenges in big cities. But if people could maintain a garden and simultaneously set up a composting plant, then the wet waste from the households can easily be converted into manure thereby maintaining a garden as well as managing their waste,” says Anil, who hasn’t disposed of any wet waste for the past 20 years.
He has the support of his loving wife who helps him with all the gardening work. The couple also grow around 50 indoor plants.
Read this story in Hindi here.
Edited by Yoshita Rao