Interview with our plant parent May D'Souza from Pune,

#GetSoiled with May D'Souza

In this edition of plant parent interview - we have Pune based statistician and homemaker, May D'Souza


May D'Souza


Tell us a bit about yourself, who is May and how addicted are you to plants.

    Hello, I am May. A statistician by profession, a homemaker by choice. I move places along with my husband and two teens as his job calls for being constantly on the move. I've had gardens in every home I've lived. Whenever it has been possible, my plants have moved along with me. When not, I have given them away to fellow plant lovers. 

    Do you have a full-time job, if yes, how do you manage both, gardening and office schedule.

      At the moment am a stay at home mom. So, I have plenty of time to potter around in the garden with no strings attached. A decade ago, I did work for a few years. Then, I split my gardening time in two: Mornings were spent in watering the garden, evenings in maintenance, de-weeding, pruning, repotting. I looked forward to returning home to spend time with my plants.

      May's Balcony

      Is plant addiction real for you? do your peers support it?

        I do not know how to answer this question. I have never lived any year of my life without plants. My first steps were in my maternal grandparent's nursery. I grew up watching the gardeners in action, grafting, repotting, making new plants, sights of customers visiting and making their choice. In my paternal grandparents home, the sights were different. Everybody woke up at dawn to pluck different flowers/leaves, jasmine being the main flower. They were strung into garlands and sold at the markets. Unfortunately, we do not have any pictures of those years gone by, just memories. I am at that point in life where I don't think I can survive without plants. so whether it's an addiction or not, I cannot answer. 
        My husband is the force behind my gardening adventures. He drives me around patiently in search of new plants and nurseries. Just a month ago, he went hunting for a branch so that I could mount my orchids. I would have been happy with any fallen branch, but he went through quite some trouble to find the perfect one. Driving through town he came across a woodcutter felling a tree. He chose the perfect log and came home proudly with his prized possession. The way I struggled to lift it and make it stand against the wall without breaking my bones is a story for another day. But for now, my orchids are mounted and are happily latching onto the bark, which is a sight to behold.

        Are you a plant collector or hobbyist, do you love collecting exotic plants or locally available species?

          I garden more for my soul. Moving places/homes stress me a lot. Change upsets me. It's gardening that has been my saving grace. It has helped me to challenge myself, learn about the new place, its flora fauna, types of plants that are available and grow well. I always try to grow locally available species. I grew Roses, Chrysanthemums, Begonias in Bangalore / Tulips, Lavender and Daffodils in Germany / Plumeria, Jasmine in Ahmedabad, Now I am back to Roses in Pune and also Lillies. Since moving to Pune, I have begun collecting plants, Begonias, and Orchids. I have discovered that different kinds of Begonias are available here. My grandparent's nursery used to be filled with exotic varieties and this memory rekindled my love for them. Am always on the lookout and try to add to my collection. Though, when summer arrives, it's challenging to keep them alive.

          May and her Orchid mount soiled

          You must be having some fun experiences with any plant nurseries, if you do, wanna share?

            I do love discovering new nurseries, but for my plant/soil/potting needs, I go to just one nursery. During my travels, I do look out for nurseries just to walk around, see what's growing in that region. Sometimes, you may find a plant or two which may not be available where you live. In Bangalore, I used to buy my plants from The Lalbagh Nursery. In Pune, I visit Enchanted Gardens.

            Any successful plant care tip that you have discovered yourself?

              My successful plant care tip is to look out for pests and deadhead plants daily. Set aside time and do it with diligence.

              Do you make your own potting media? if yes, do you mind sharing it with us?

                My potting media is soil, coco peat, and vermicompost. I do not follow proportions. Soil has to be the major part followed by coco peat and vermicompost

                What're your future plans for your beautiful indoor jungle?

                  I do not make plans for my balcony jungle simply because I do not know where will I be in the coming months. We haven't been fortunate enough to have landlords who allow us to stay for very long. So every 2 or 3 years my balconies keep changing, hence the jungle too. I can only say that as the years pass the jungle keeps getting better and wilder.

                  Tell us a bit about your experience sharing your hobby with social media? 

                    I have begun sharing my garden pictures on Instagram for the past 4 years. Initially, it was only for my family and friends. The past year has seen so many strangers become friends, some quite close to my heart. I get messages daily saying how I have been an inspiration to them to start their own gardens, quite a few plant queries which I answer willingly. My goal now is to help people garden in whatever space they have, not see gardening as something stressful and not freak out about a plant dying. It should be a learning and enjoyable process at the same time. In the end, everyone should have their patch of green, however small it may be.

                    Any favorite plant parent/page that you follow for inspiration?

                      There are so many. Seema Singh (@mynestedabode), Jayashree Rajan (@jsreerajan), Jamie Song (@jamies_jungle) are the ones that match my style of gardening.
                      Follow May and her beautiful garden on her Instagram (@may_theplantwhisperer)







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