Madhumita De with her plants in her living room.
Madhumita De is proof that if there is a will there is a way. Dismissing the lack of space as an excuse, the lady has brick by brick converted a stretch of her living room into her temple of plants. Erica Palms, Snake Plants, Cacti…she has an indoor collection that she has laid out beautifully and one that is as satisfying to nurture as a garden on a sprawling lawn.
My plant collection started quite unexpectedly. My husband and I would love travelling to weekend destinations — Santiniketan, Digha etc — and I started bringing home plants from nurseries there. Our balcony is small so I started keeping them on a table and later bamboo shelves in the living room.
People warned me about insects but let alone insects, these plants don’t even attract mosquitoes. But of course I am also particular about their cleanliness. I water them carefully so it never overflows and I place the pots inside bamboo and cane baskets to doubly ensure no water seeps down to the living room floor.
In the pre-pandemic world, I would love to visit Bidhannagar Mela, Saras Mela and any other fair nearby to buy plants, and pots and baskets to keep the plants in. I’ve also placed clay dolls among the plants for a rustic feel and have put up a weaver bird nest (babui pakhir basha) replica I bought from Puri.
Then again, some Bulbuls have built a real nest on the window next to these plants! The birds chew the Money Plant intertwined in the grill but I don’t mind. I love both plants and birds and Money Plants grow easily.
The living room has now become my favourite part of the house. I also can’t deny how convenient it is to be able to look after the plants sitting on my couch under the fan. I find myself returning to this room to read, watch TV, do yoga — all in the company of my greens…
The plants have even inspired me to write poetry. But a major reason I love them is because they remind me of my childhood in Alipurduar, where we had everything from Mangoes to Cashew growing in our lawns.
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