If we had paid no more attention to our plants than we have to our children, we would now be living in a jungle of weed. - Luther Burbank, horticulturist
"This is the grand old tree of my garden," said the old man as his face lit up with pride, "my great-grandfather had planted it and it has given us a rich harvest of delicious Alphonso mangoes every season without fail."
"But the credit for it goes to you," I smiled back and replied, "your gardening skills have made sure the tree bloomed more and more, even though it kept aging."
"That's what the right mixture of knowledge and experience can deliver my boy," he replied as he bent down to pick up a ripe mango that had fallen off the tree. "Look at this beautiful fruit. It's the fruit of labour, the mango of knowledge..."
Mango of knowledge? I wondered if the expression existed, but I got the essence of what he was trying to say. His training in horticulture had brought forth amazing results. The garden which was covered with weeds during his father's time was now an avatar of natural glory. It was like he had established a new generation of life with his bare hands.
His garden was his laboratory, where he experimented with the plants, trying out different cultures with the seeds, grafting various breeds, using new methods of fertilizing, etc. Most of the times he failed, but he never gave up. He knew the potential of the seeds and he kept trying. Ad the result was there to see - a luscious garden brimming with an infinite variety of life.
"Plants are wonderful creatures," he said, "they have to be nurtured, like children, and they will respond to your care and love," he caressed the lush pink bunch of Bougainvillaea. "It takes a lot of patience with hours of meticulous care, and look at them, the flowers smile back with their blooms, the fruits reciprocate the love with their fruity aroma and taste, and every leaf thanks me through the dancing glints of sunbeam."
He saw his garden as an orchestra of life, of which he was the conductor.
"Nature does not work with man's cycle or under man's command. One needs to look at it maturely. There cannot be a master-slave relationship with it. One ought not look at Nature as a slave or as a master. It is a friend, a collaborator in the construction of life in this world..." said the old man as we walked back inside the house.
As we entered the hall, the old man froze with horror. His daughter had come back home and her stuff lay strewn all over. Her shoes were thrown by the door, bag lay on the sofa, and some books scattered on the floor, while she crouched by the window busy with a video chat. The old man gave a long hard stare at his daughter, which she did not care about. He turned around and strode back to the garden, while murmuring, "this new generation is so useless... nothing can be done about them.."