(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on April 11, 2008.)
It was July 2001 and the internet had become accessible even to me [!] and I had begun 'cyberslacking'. That was the time shortly after we had moved to our ancestral property where there were open spaces around the house which had mostly 'natural lawn' but not much weeds [was a problem later]. The occupant tenant, though loved plants had kept them in pots. So I saw nice spaces for gardening [which became 'crowded', yet green], much more space than in the other house where I grew up. Here is where my real gardening began:
I slowly began to grow some plants in patches and I developed a great curiosity to identify by name the plants in our premises. I had borrowed a book from the library but my searches found no direction. Google helped me identify many plants which I began listing out in a book. A particular website on Google showed up often. It was "Dave's Garden" [DG]. I wanted to know what it was. That slowly expanded my exposure to the Internet. I had opened my first e-mail in 1998. I buried my head deeper into this DG-thing only to find myself being drawn like an ant to sugar! Once this ant tasted the sugar cube, there has been no looking back.
[Pictures below - clockwise, beginning from left: Royal elephants stepped in one day; my daughters when we moved in here - notice the 'free areas'!; Gardening activity has begun; Some more progress - these are two shots from my friend's Sony Mavica; More progress in the next two pictures; then the house, freshly painted when we moved in]

Not all are really fortunate to have space for a garden and have one even if they have. To make the hands dirty with mud in the garden is a wonderful thing not all are blessed with! To me, gardening is one of the holiest and most sacred of hobbies one can pursue, provided they have bit of time a little bit of money to set apart; educative too. I vouch, it is worth every minute you spend digging, cleaning, nurturing, pruning, watering, or even sitting amongst the plants out there in a garden which we can call our own.

Back to DG, I began watching the forums and it tasted like my own cup of tea. The tenor in the threads appeared friendly and honest - so typical of DG. Naturally, I signed up almost automatically and instantly in one of my first 'hits' itself! It did not take long to realize that I was amongst a knowledgeable, helpful, reliable and magnificent group of gardening people. There were already 2745 of them between me and Dave Whitinger, the man behind all this. Now, no wonder the number is astronomical.

When Dave had look for subscription shortly afterwards, I got a bit worried because, DG had already become an obsession. But the situation was rescued by "Garden Angels" to whom I am profoundly grateful for their gift subscriptions, year after year. I stand indebted to such generosity. I am stuck to DG like a piece of iron to a magnet for all the good reasons. The DG aroma and flavour have never left - no signs either!! I have learnt lots about gardening and more, almost from naught.

Seed trading was another great hobby on DG [much like the stamp exchange I used to do] and my first trade was with the young Evert of Finland. It's a great pleasure to see seeds from other parts of the world growing here. There were many seeds that also failed to germinate and disappointed me. But I have learnt my lessons without switching gears when it came to be sent.

I wanted to share pictures of my plants and flowers like others did but I only had a film camera. The scanned images were of poor quality. I must never fail to acknowledge the kindness shown to me by my colleague and her husband, Mr.Thomas who so willingly allowed me to use their digital camera, a simple Sony Mavica, for taking pictures whenever a new flower had bloomed in my garden. DCs were too expensive. Garden Angels from across the world later saw to it that I got a good digital camera and even a PC so that I reduced 'cyberslacking' but increased sharing what I did here, 'half way round the earth'.

2006 was a year that brought in much joy. A kind "DG-er" sent me his small DC which was my first! Then soon afterwards, before I could get the hang of it, another DG-er sent me her Fuji which was slightly better than the first one. Yet another respected DG-er chipped in to offer me a DC, but that turned out to be a "PC". So Internet too arrived home. Then, a Panasonic DC with 12x zoom followed. I'm ever grateful to all of Angels for having contributed to my wild dreams going to fruition. That's been the spirit at DG and a trademark.

Now let me tell how the seed of gardening in me was sown. I grew up seeing how my grandmother used to dig a bit and water the plants with a hosepipe. There was gushing water supply in those days and never went dry, like now. Mostly they were the flowering plants like barlerias, tabernaemontanas, oleander, jasmines, some lilies and a couple of roses which were used for daily worship to God. We brothers participated in gardening not how plants grow but for playing with water as we made pathways along a slight slope to divert water to all plants - using a hand tool [which is still with me!].

When a little older, I can remember the thrill I got from growing my own plant from seed (it was actually a cosmos) with the help of a friend. I grew some beans and marigolds also with the help of my mother. This was nearly 35-40 years ago. Gardening has been such a great pleasure for me in my life and my garden: "Dinu's Garden" became a favourite "retreat spot", to sip my cup of coffee - sometimes breakfast too - beside my pond or under a tree. "Dinu's Eden" is what I chose to engrave [to suit the length] on an old rustic wooden plank to give that vintage touch. Here it is:


DG has really changed the way I look at gardening and gardening with DG-ideas and knowing lovely people changed me! I classify my career as pre-DG and post-DG eras! It has been such an impact, really, in my life too. And I can boast DG is the only one gardening website I have time for, no kidding! It makes me sad to share here that a major part of 'my Eden', the pond and many plants which I grew [from trades and local sources] and took care for almost a decade will be lost from my control due to an inevitable family situation. But some space will be left for me to dig around and create a new little Eden and that there is bound to be an interruption for a while in my activities. I have so far enjoyed the freedom to create my own weird things in my Eden. But I will later have less work with clearing weeds and more focused time, hopefully, in having a small garden. But it will not be the same.

[Here is a picture of my small pond]


My garden has invited many birds and insects and has allowed me to learn and study Nature, first hand. People have now known how interested I'm in it - so it is one of the important topics to start a discussion! Well, let's move on. We have to. My enthusiasm is the plant, DG is water and manure, DG-friends are sunlight and my curiosity is the digging tool and this is what brought me here and made what I am today. When I look back, I've some wonderful memories, thanks to DG. It shaped 'me and my gardening'!

Let our world be green, without envy!