Unlike most gardeners, Sriram Aravamudan prefers strolling in his garden in complete darkness. For it is mostly during the nights when the fragrant plants bloom gracefully, taking him into another sensory dimension.
Whether it is the double whammy of lilies, bold roses, heart-shaped hoya or the delicate Raat ki Rani (Night-blooming jasmine), just a whiff of these fragrant plants is enough to evoke pleasant memories and feelings of well-being.
“Most of us often pick visually appealing plants and often the magic of fragrance is overlooked. But the scented flowers work wonders in the night and no matter how tiring my day is, the problems and worries cease to exist,” Sriram, an organic gardening expert, tells The Better India.
Sriram has been an avid gardener for two decades now and he believes that a garden without fragrance is like life without a soul.
Science also supports this theory.
Before taste, sound and sight, it is the smell that first passes through the amygdala and the hippocampus. These two parts of the brain are responsible for memories and emotion.
Building a ‘perfumed’ garden can be overwhelming, especially for beginners so to uncomplicate things, Sriram shares his expertise.
What Plants to Pick?
Each person has a personal favourite fragrance and no two noses are similar. The strategy here is to use only your nose to pick a scented plant that appeals to you.
Sriram’s secret to a scented garden is to choose plants and trees that bloom at different times of the year. It should be a diverse palette of bushes, creepers, perennials and bulbs. This also allows the plant to grow in a pot or in the ground.
For example, lilies and rajnigandha are reserved for summer, raat ki rani blooms between February and April and champak (Magnolia champaca) blooms between June to September.
Weather is also an important factor to consider while picking as some plants like jasmine and rose require bright sunlight. Meanwhile, Raat ki Rani, which has an intense aroma, needs a semi-shaded condition to bloom.
Growth And Maintenance of Garden
Sriram suggests purchasing pre-grown plants from the nursery to grow the garden in a hassle-free manner.
If you are growing in a pot, then make sure it is 10×10 inches at least. While rajnigandha, jasmine and roses can be grown in a container, others are better off in the ground.
In terms of maintenance, hoyas need the lowest care and can be grown indoors. Plus, they need to be watered once in two weeks. Roses, of course, are high maintenance but also the most rewarding. They constantly need pruning.
To bring out the purest fragrance from plants, Sriram strictly says no to chemicals. From home compost, vermicompost, neem oil, animal manure to organic fertilisers, there is an array of eco-friendly alternatives one can choose from.
“Using chemicals may give you faster results but organic ones guarantee a holistic growth in the long run. Introducing beneficial microbes or bacterias like Pseudomonas in your garden can ward off pests, prevent root rotting. Ladybugs are also an effective option,” says Sriram.
We hope these tips help you step into a world that awakens your senses and makes you feel closer to nature.
Edited by Yoshita Rao