When we moved into the Doll house at 170 A, a couple of malnourished Tabebuia avenue trees welcomed us half-heartedly at the pathway leading to the house.
My nephew , Sunny Jacob Philip, drove out from Trivandrum in his much used open jeep with saplings for us. When he arrived several hours later after losing his way, he was sitting with his knees reaching his chin, cramped and covered with foliage including a sapling of the Brownea macrophylla, the Panama Flame tree, The Rose of Venezuela.. A Graduate from the Agriculture College of the Allahabad University, Sunny spent the next morning helping us plant them with a definite plan. Shade , fruit and flowers.
Sam bought plants whenever he travelled. As the weeks passed into months and years , our organic garden grew greener and cooler. The temperature inside the house dropped a couple of degrees as the sun filtered through the trees and the tinted glasses reflected the sun away. When Rohan our younger grandson came to visit us, he asked me very seriously , if I painted the leaves green when every goes to bed.
We planted a couple of pretty Bottle Brush trees at the entrance of the house and the evergreen yellow allamanda around the house. When we had no space to plant on the ground we sent the flowering creepers to climb up the taller trees. The pink Bangalore Malli crept up the Mahiliam tree and hung as seductive bunches of pink and white swaying in the breeze to welcome visitors walking up the pathway to the house. The Bahunia, the Langerstroemia, the Parijatam, and the Jacaranda took its own time to bloom over the next three years, pleasantly surprising us when they did..
The bamboo we planted behind our bedroom, grew unchecked, with scant need for water or tender loving care, into a bamboo curtain that provided privacy and shaded the western setting sun from scorching the plants on the western side . Areca palms and the lipstick palms with their red sealing wax trunks, formed a border around the edge of the garden. Crotons with its colourful brillance dotted the greens with speckled shades of red, orange and yellow .
We grew teak and the humili tree and ate the papayas and bananas, while we waited for the mango, the chickoo, the guava and the custard apple to fruit. The Singapore Cherry tree grew at an alarming rate in an attempt to reach the sky . It was home and berry to many of the birds in the air, but we had to regretfully guillotine the Cherry tree as its canopy spread over to cover the other trees growing beside it, dwarfing them to pale and stunted forms.
It was not a manicured garden. It was not a tidy garden. It grew as we planted, haphazardly, responding to the fertile virgin soil and water from the Manjula Dam. At one point , Mr. Andichamy , who was in charge of the gardens, watched incredulously as Sam unloaded plants from the boot of the car.
He threw his hands up in the air and exclaimed Doctor, if you are going to buy any more plants, you will have to buy another plot of land!