Gokuleshwaran A has over 300 plants, including ponytail palm, coleus, etc

CHENNAI: It is uncommon for a variety of exotic flowers and plants to grow on a terrace garden, but for 21-year-old Gokuleshwaran A, this is an everyday reality. From cardinal flowers like the desert rose to several potted bonsai trees to over 30 different species of cacti, the terrace in his house in East Tambaram is decorated with ornamental flowers and plants.

Gardening for the architecture student at Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology is more than just planting and maintenance. “Though it may appear to be a hobby for many, gardening is quite beneficial and important to us as the plants keep the air in the house fresh,” he said.

His love affair with plants began when he was in class 4, when his friend gifted him a few Portulaca seeds, which he grew in a medicine bottle. Although he shifted houses a lot, this did not deter him, and with the support of his family and friends, he continued to grow his terrace garden.

Gokuleshwaran has over 300 plants, including money plants, coleus, song of India, harika balm, asparagus densiflorus, and ponytail palm, in his garden. Among his impressive cacti collection, the mammillaria, barrel cactus and caralluma are some of his favourites.

He also has bonsai collections which include jade, darunta and ficus plants. It takes three years of constant care for a bonsai to become a full-grown tree, explained Gokuleshwaran.

Although maintaining a garden requires a significant investment in terms of time, Gokuleshwaran feels it is worth the wait, adding that all good things take time. As a hobby, gardening is healthy, soothing and refreshes one’s mind, body and soul, he said.