I find gardeners very polite people with a very sarcastic sense of humor. I don’t know why that is. When I was a kid, my parents had employed a gardener. He used to point at the destroyed garden and say, in a very sweet tone, smiling all along, “ಪರವಾಗಿಲ್ಲ ಅಮ್ಮ , ಡೆನ್ನಿ ನನಗೆ ಸವಾಲು ಹಾಕ್ತಾನೆ ” (“It’s alright madam. Denny seems to be challenging me”). I see a similar relationship between Nishi and Arasu (our current gardener. I should write about his name. It’s so interesting. But that’s for another time). Arasu seems to look at Nishi with a veiled disinterest that freaks me out. It seems that polite-interest in her, which tries to mask his feigned disinterest, might actual be masking something far more sinister. So I decided that I had to either make Nishi a garden friendly dog or make my garden Nishi friendly. I opted for the latter.
|Sand and Soil clearly demarcated|
First things first. As I mentioned in my previous post, the garden design I went in for is “Container Gardening”. The main part of the garden has been covered in 3″ of sand. There is a line of soil exposed along the edges and there are plants growing there. I did not have the heart to uproot the plants. So I retained them and separated soil and sand with a line of bricks. Duh! Most obvious thing to do, you might say. True. But one thing we realized is that the bricks, coupled with the colour and textural difference between sand and soil makes it easy for us to define boundaries for Nishi. And when boundaries are well defined, it’s easy for Nishi to respect them.
Nishi is a slow learner, but she is an obedient girl. She respects rules. So she is slowly learning to stay away from the soil. But her ball is a bit out of control and happily rolls over into the soil, destroying saplings. So a nifty little idea I picked up is to put in a “Sapling Guard”. It is a simple thing, cut out of plastic pet bottles. I just cut out 3″ rings, slit the ring open, wrap it around the sapling and press it into the wet soil. I figured out that Gatorade bottles are the best thing for this. These bottles are tough. The next best thing is coke/pepsi (any aerated drink) pet bottles. Kinley and other water bottles are not good for this project. The bottles are flimsy and don’t do much guarding. Now I just got to see how the saplings hold up. So far, they seem to be doing fine.
|Upcycled pet bottles as sapling guards|
And last but not the least – lawn. I could not completely do away with the lawn. But lawn takes time to grow and if it has to stand a chance, Nishi cannot set foot anywhere near it. So the lawn area has been segregated by a picket. But keeping with my theme of using natural and upcycled items, I decided to stick to a rather rustic idea of weaved coconut leaves. Not the most genius of ideas. Our villages are a treasure trove of eco-friendly effective ideas. One simple youtube video later, I was able to weave my own garden gate.
|Weaved coconut leaves for garden gate|
But my fingers were chaffed in the process. Then my dad told me of a simple trick and I was wondering why it did not occur to me. Soak the leaves in water for 2 days before weaving! Duh. So the next one will be soaked. But where? I am trying to find someone who has a bath tub. Coconut leaves are surprisingly easy to find in Bangalore. I have my own personal source – the neighbours tree. Their leaves keep falling into our garden. But as soon as our gardener saw what I was up to, he managed to find several of them in minutes. Pays to be nice to Arasu I guess. So, for now, the quest for the bathtub continues and below is the tutorial on weaving coconut leaves. I used dried leaves.
Meanwhile I spend send several happy hours watching Nishi prancing in our garden. I love it. Making the garden dog friendly is so much fun. Adds a whole new dimension to the garden and makes spending time in the garden that much more entertaining. For those with a garden, I would strongly recommend thinking along these lines. It’s worth it.