By Shadan Muneer
Every cloud has a silver lining. This adage has been proved right by multiple innovative ideas, entrepreneurship ventures and creative home makers during the current pandemic. Corporates have been thinking differently, schools and colleges trying new ways to engage with students and home makers have come out of their comfort zones and are rekindling their hobbies and creative talents.
Amongst the many long lost hobbies being re-pursued by people, gardening has become an instant hit as the modern generation has understood the value of clean environment. Many urban families discovered their green thumb and turned to gardening as a soothing family-friendly hobby. With more time at one’s disposal, gardening got a lot of attention and plants began to appear in homes across India.
A large number of city residents too have adopted healthy hobbies and taken interest in nurturing their gardens and giving them a makeover. If you are passing through Yadavagiri locality, an ultra chic garden is sure to arrest your attention and lead you into a different world of enviable green patch. The proud owner of this unique garden Sharadha Gupta has created living murals with bonsai plants and this innovative idea makes her the first person ever to create living murals.
Murals are the picturisation of natural sceneries that are painted, framed and displayed. A passionate gardener from the age of seven, Sharadha with gardening experience of over 40 years brought her gardening skills to excellent use by indulging in renovation of her garden during the turbulent Corona times.
With her enviable green fingers, she has been able to not only reinvent herself as a gardener but her efforts have also created a matchless niche amongst the gardening community.
Sharadha, wife of a hotelier, imbibed the passion for gardening from her mother and boasts of an attractive and unique collection of bonsais of wild plants, cactus, ferns, varieties of indoor plants, orchids and exotic plants which are creatively displayed in crafted containers made of non-conventional materials. Her efforts and talent have been recognised by the Horticultural Department through awards.
Sharadha’s novel thinking of making a mural look more natural by adding bonsai plants to it and crafting a look of living murals sets it apart and adds different dimensions into gardening.
Revealing the motivation behind creating such a distinctive living art, she opens up that “portraits of natural sceneries always fascinated me and I would ponder how to make them look more natural. It was then that the idea of creating murals by adding bonsai plants got implanted in my mind.”
Dwelling into the process of creating the art, Sharadha says, “I use sand and stones to give it a natural scenic look; background painting of skies and forests has to be done creatively and picking up a right frame is also important.”
Sharadha’s amazing collection of living murals includes a backdrop of blue skies, mountains, forests and sceneries of dusk and dawn.
Reminiscing how the lockdown actually proved to be a boon in a longer run, Sharadha adds that “as the interaction with neighbours and visitors was limited, I could devote more time and rearrange my plants. I now spend around 4 hours a day in the garden involving myself in cleaning, watering, manuring and observing the plants. I even meditate in my garden which is very soothing. Plants function as an element of nature and also add warmth and beauty to the interiors of the house. Also, watering and nurturing them helps in ensuring emotional and mental well-being.”
She believes that nurturing a garden requires a lot of patience and a sense of responsibility. As the bonsai plants she uses for mural designing requires methodical watering, manuring and needs to be tamed in less soil, it also demands hard work, research and practical experience.
Sharadha, who has made sure that her garden is not only a symbol of ornamental display of plants but also consists of useful varieties of medicinal plants too, opines: “plants naturally filter toxins in the air and with wellness experts suggesting people to have immunity boosting foods these days, it is a good idea to grow medicinal plants such as tulsi, giloy, brahmi, ashwagandha and lemongrass, which are easy to maintain.”
Sharadha, who has also served as a judge for several gardening competitions and conducted numerous demonstrations and workshops, advices the urbanities to take up gardening so as to avail organically home-grown food. She derives maximum satisfaction in giving ideas to people who visit her for tips regarding creative gardening. She has also held knowledge-sharing sessions in the past and has penned down two books titled ‘Gardening with care and creativity’ and ‘The Art of Bonsai’ that gives abundant details on the most proficient method to take care of the plants. These books are the natural extension of her hobby of gardening and a result of the requests from all her fans about the tips and ideas in gardening.
When asked to give a message to the garden-lovers, this garden enthusiast states, “Gardening is a way to keep up your spirits. You can take it up as a productive hobby if you have passion, patience and commitment and look after them with utmost care.”