Lending an aesthetic twist to the ecological concerns of DK's Green Team, the office recently played host to Jyotsna Mathur Dayal – a landscaping architect and avid plant lover. Jyotsna talked about being involved in a niche line of work that often goes unnoticed in a world of gleaming high-rises. As creator of the green, lush patches that impart so much character to the cityscape, her work is that of “a curator of spaces”. Harnessing the latent energy of greenery to enrich spaces with its naturally calming essence is harder than it sounds.
Jyotsna is responsible for the upkeep of vast swathes of green in and around the country, such as those flanking the Delhi Noida Direct Flyway (DND) as well as the green corners in and around the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Her enthusiasm was infectious as she bounced from topic to topic, thrilled to have a rapt audience. Having retained a childlike wonder in the miracle of life, so eloquently expressed in the shy stirrings of a sapling, she believes that it's important to think of house plants as living, breathing beings first and objects that impart ornamental value later. Be it a terrace garden, a table top arrangement, or a herb patch, there is great therapeutic value in tending to and taking time out to commune with them. A quick peek at your plants, a “hello”, or even a monologue pouring out the woes of the day to your unsuspecting creeper can be a perfect stress buster.
According to Jyotsna it is not just through considerations of flora that a space comes alive. The gaps between objects, the evocation of a feel of profusion or manicured fineness, depending on the clients' requirements matters a lot. From airports to porches of private bungalows, her areas of expertise range from indoor to outdoor arrangements. Mulch and pebbles accentuate the gentle shades of plants and are their natural counterparts. Arranging these into a semblance of easy acquaintance usually requires some form of levelling. The resultant, almost playful sense of foliage, imparts a soothing effect unparalleled by purely concrete installations.
Jyotsna's work requires her to be extremely hands-on. On a regular workday, she can be found in a grimy helmet and mud-streaked workboots supervising workers. Often she has had to deal with men taken aback by her knowledge and sometimes downright resentful of it. She narrates anecdotes about Hindu gardeners refusing to touch, let alone, prune a peepul tree. In dire situations, she had to take it upon herself to clamber up and get the job done.
Anyone can keep plants. Jyotsna recommends that you start small and not be daunted by images of impeccably-maintained gardens that have probably taken months to build and maintain. As an endeavour, gardening is a long-term project that will demand all your reserves of patience. But it's also the most natural thing to nurture a plant – a form of life that qualifies as possibly the most unselfish being on the planet.
To sum it up, here's a pictorial tour of the event.
Photo credit: Pradeep Thapliyal
Image design: Ankita Sharma