A year of pottering around in the garden

Posted: August 22, 2021 in Uncategorized

Prior to August 2020, my only contribution to gardening was to engage a professional gardener, pay him a fee, and let him do his thing, in our garden. And he did an “okay” job in the once-a-week visits he would pay us. It was clearly not enough to get the dream garden that we wished for. But then I did not particularly get around to investing more time or energy behind it.

Come March 2020, and the pandemic and the lockdown ensured that we did not get any outsiders coming in, and which included the gardener too. So from March to August 2020, the garden was poorly looked after and started looking terrible.

That was the point when, at a moment of inspiration, I decided to get into some gardening work myself. In fact, the desire was always there, but I had not put my mind to it, and I was also not sure where to start. Luckily, I had subscribed to the Masterclass series online, and one of the great masterclass series was around home gardening. Which I saw. And after that I went and saw a few more videos on YouTube. And that was just the trigger I needed, to plunge into this new hobby.

And it’s been an amazing 12 months now, of pottering around the garden, trying out things, failing a lot, learning new stuff, experimenting, seeking help from friends, visiting nurseries, and getting to some decent state of developing a home garden.

We have not called any gardener for our garden, since March 2020, so I am able to take full responsibility of the good, bad and the ugly in our garden, with no one else to point fingers to!

And this is what has emerged in terms of the flora and the fauna now.

The learnings have been many over this one year. And in fact, as an entrepreneur, I saw a lot of parallels between trying to nurture and grow plants, and trying to build out a business venture! In fact, gardening experiences are a lot like life itself. I am pleased to share a few of these points, that bring out the parallels:

  1. I tried to grow plants starting from bare seeds. This turned out to be the most challenging. The journey from a seed to a plant that can reasonably self-sustain is a long and arduous one. Many things can go wrong in between. Some of these don’t even get started, in terms of showing up above the soil. Others sometimes give way, in a few days or weeks, just as they start showing up, above the ground. Many startups have the same story. Early period needs extreme care.
  2. Sometimes a plant reaches a certain size and then needs to be transplanted into a bigger planter. Or sometimes you get a ready, small plant (instead of a sapling or just seeds) and you are working to grow them from that point onwards. The transplantation from an existing soil structure to a newer one has to be done very carefully. This is to ensure that the roots are well-maintained and don’t snap off. And you need to settle down the transplanted plant, in the new planter also, well. This is much like M&A in startup life. Needs to be done with as much care!
  3. As you do gardening, you realise that by and large, nature has tremendous resilience. There were at least two major occasions of heavy rains and very strong winds that damaged several of my plants very badly. Few small and delicate ones did not survive and died! Some others were badly damaged but survived. Once the storm passed, I cleaned them up, and provided further tender loving care, for a few days. And lo and behold! The plants recovered and came back to their own, like nothing had happened. That resurrection of sorts, from the dead, was very fascinating and showed the amazing resilience that the plants had. Sometimes in startup life too, one would face storms. But the entrepreneurs’ and the teams’ resilience can enable a startup to battle it out, survive and come out stronger.
  4. After several experiments, what I finally concluded in terms of the causes of failed plants, was that these were either under-watered or over-watered. Too little, mostly infrequent watering deprives plants and causes them to get spoilt or die, but also excess water causes similar and sometimes worse damage. It is much like the need of capital in startups. Too less capital or too much capital could potentially cause the same kind of damage to startups!
  5. When you have dried up leaves or damaged leaves in a plant, there is no way to undo that damage and make them nice and green again. The only option is to cut those damaged leaves, and which allows the rest of the plant and the rest of the leaves to survive and grow well. And soon, you would have a nice healthy plant all over again. In a startup (or even a matured company), if there are some some team members that are not fitting well, it is best to let them go, and give the rest of the team and the company a chance to survive and thrive again.
  6. I am totally indebted to some great friends and some experts in our housing community, to provide me with great suggestions, whenever I had questions. There was a keen willingness to help and guide and it just felt good to know that there was someone to go to. And it is on account of that support that I was able to fumble and falter but yet correct and try and get things right. In a startup too, it is important to have access to good advisors that you can turn to, from time to time!
  7. Gardening is not about a lot of work for a short period of time. It is not about this massive burst of effort. Rather, it is about a continuous and committed effort on a regular and constant basis. A certain investment of time, almost on a daily basis, perhaps a slightly longer effort at least once each week. But the bottomline being that one just has to be “at it” relentlessly. There are almost no short cuts to that. Results do not show up every day, in fact, they often do not show up for days and week together. But still, you have to be at it. Because that is the only way that growth happens, that the flowers and fruits show up. Any sort of impatience on the journey means that you will not get the desired rewards of your labour! This is again, so true for startups as well. As they say, the journey of a startup is a marathon and not a sprint.

It has been a great one year of gardening for me. And the journey has just started, it would seem to me. I find the time I spend gardening to be therapeutic, to provide me with a lot of happiness, away from my phone and other devices, and very rewarding as well.

Like I feel running my business venture..

  1. Vinanti says:

    Very very well written.
    Loved the way the similarities are compared.
    The beginning of every para made me jump to comparison first and then I would return back to the para to read the rest..
    A thought provoking read, indeed!!

  2. Ajay P Doshi says:

    Sanjay, you amaze me. You can literally “grow” into anything sir !!!

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