Gardening was an easy choice as a post-retirement hobby  for scientist Viswambharan N K, whose ancestors had been into large-scale farming.

He grows over 1,500 plants on 15 cents of land, where he lives with his wife Jayamma.

His orchid collection includes all major types like cattleya, dendrobium, cymbidium, and vanda, and over 50 varieties of ‘dancing girls’ (Impatiens Bequaertii).

“Exotic orchid varieties are pretty expensive, but this has turned into a craze, and nothing matches the joy I feel when I see the blooming flowers,” he says.

Viswambharan informs that orchids require comparatively less maintenance. He does not even have to water them daily, and they do not require pesticides.

“Also, based on varieties, the flowers can last anywhere between five days and three months,” says the 67-year-old.

Viswambharan also grows vegetables and fruits like blue-coloured chillies, violet/red ladies’ fingers, bitter gourd, snake gourd, and rambutan.

He also grows ‘miracle fruit’ (Synsepalum Dulcificum).  “If you have any sour item, even curd or tamarind, after eating this fruit, it will taste sweet,”  he says.

Even as he grows thousands of plants, the gardener has never sold any. He lets people take seeds or saplings, but does not engage on a commercial basis.

He has never used any chemicals during farming and he believes this is the reason behind his sound health even at this age.