Suma’s gardens are loved and well-tended. When the leaves wither a little, Suma becomes anxious. Her relationship with flowers, plants and gardens is beyond commercial interests. Suma is a homeopathy doctor by profession. It was out of passion that she bought orchids for her garden. It was a small start; a small garden adjoining her home. But that soon grew. Now on thirty cents of land, Suma’s garden boasts of tens of thousands of ornamental plants and accessories including two thousand different varieties of orchids and two hundred kinds of adenium plants and desert roses. She earns an income of more than rupees fifty thousand every month from her gardening.
“All housewives are in love with flowers. If there is land adjoining the house, with proper planning gardening can become a viable business”, says Suma.
Home garden to begin with
Suma hails from Aluva. It was her marriage to businessman Surendran that brought her to Palakkad. Their only child, Pallavi has completed her BCom (E- Commerce). Her love for flowers made Suma grow a beautiful home garden. It was with a home garden that she started off. She got hold of ornamental plants from everywhere irrespective of what they cost. Thus orchids from Chennai, Delhi, Thailand and other lands found their way to her garden. When her garden began to overflow, Suma gave away some of her plants to nurseries. It was when once again the number of plants increased that the idea of getting into business took root. And her home itself became a nursery. When it became difficult to manage her home, work and the nursery, Suma closed down the nursery. She then moved into garden designing. Suma says, “I am trained in homeopathy. As close as four years back, I used to practice it too. But now my world is completely devoted to plants and flowers.”
Variety is the spice of life
Suma reminisces that it was on a journey to Singapore many years ago that she first laid her eyes on vertical gardens. When she got back, she set up her own vertical garden. Several people who saw this wanted one of their own too and requested Suma to help them set it up. She now sets up gardens for offices, hospitals, homes and all kinds of establishments. “It is not possible to describe the happiness that I experience when I immerse myself in greenery and flowers”, says Suma.
Suma visits the site of each proposed garden and makes an assessment of what kind of plants will be most apt. The customer’s preference is also given priority. Wild tropical, polished, irrespective of whichever style of designing that she uses, Suma brings in her special touch and sensibilities. She wants each design to stay unique and therefore does not post pictures of them on social media.
She travels on work to visit locations and hold discussions. It is important to keep oneself updated about designs and plants. Only then will one be able to flourish in this business. As Suma has been in this business for twenty years, she enjoys a good relationship with nurseries and traders. Whenever a new plant comes into the market, she is informed. Suma wakes up early and finishes all the housework. By six in the morning she is in the garden, watering the plants and taking care of them. She has one helper who accompanies her. Suma does not use pesticides or chemicals on her plants. Most of her orders for work come through her architect and interior designer friends. Sometimes customers come directly. The trend of gifting plants for birthdays and house -warmings is on the rise. For this, plants are set in specially designed containers. With a smile on her face, Suma says that if one gifts a live plant, the memory will remain alive for a long time.
Keep in mind
• Do not look at garden designing as an easy business. The methods of nurturing orchids, hand plants and indoor plants are different. The location, climate and other factors must be studied in depth. Proper planning is required before venturing into this business.
• One must be capable and confident of managing the entire activities associated with the garden on one’s own even if a helper is absent.
• If money is not the primary motive and it is a passion or a hobby that is converted into business, one will be fully dedicated.