Daniel Rajiah Jesudasan, 70,showing some of the green chili he grows at home which is used in his cooking.- Picture by Rohaizat/Star.
SEPTUAGENARIAN Daniel Rajiah Jesudasan has had a fiery passion for gardening over the past 45 years.
“Cut me and I might bleed green” he joked at his Sunway Batu Caves home.
He has made full use of the garden space at his corner lot double-storey house by planting a variety of plants of all shapes, colours and sizes.
“I think I got the passion for gardening from my late father.
“His passion for gardening rubbed off on his five sons but it did not take root in me until after I got married.
“My first garden had over 17 types of roses.
“When I was posted to Mentakab in Pahang for 18 years, my passion grew to planting fruits and vegetables as well,” said the retired TNB senior technician who is in his 70s.
During his time there, he befriended a senior staff member of the Pahang agricultural institute who also shared his passion for gardening.
The officer would frequently give him various types of top quality seeds and plant cuttings that proved a success at the farms managed by the institute.
This included mango, coconut, durian, jackfruit and orange trees.
These days however, due to a lack of space, Daniel had to scale back on planting bigger trees in his garden but he still grows more than 100 different species of plants including 16 types of hibiscus flowers, some of which he claims are about 20 years old.
“I am never a person who bothers to collect plants because of its species, rarity or price.
“If I like it, I may grow it, even if I do not know the plant’s name,” he said, adding that even the lowly fern could look nice if arranged properly.
He also grows several kinds of vegetables which he uses in his cooking.
They include curry leaves, Thai chilli, calamansi (limau kasturi), moringa (drumstick tree) and lemongrass.
Apart from growing plants in his garden, Daniel also placed several plants outside the fencing of his house.
He also converted a small strip of land opposite his house which was overgrown with lalang into a vegetable plot decorated with small flowering plants.
Daniel said he spends at least an hour daily tending to his garden which includes watering, cleaning, pulling out weeds, putting fertiliser and transferring plants to new pots.
Daniel claims his monthly water bill is never high because he uses rainwater for his gardening needs.
“When it rains, I collect the rainwater in a tub. I would also temporarily relocate some of the smaller potted plants so that they get watered by the rain.
“Rainwater is always best for plants because it does not contain chlorine.
“I don’t recommend watering small plants daily with water from the tap, the chlorine in it will kill them over time,” Daniel revealed.
He disclosed that one of his favourite plants was a 20-year-old hibiscus shrub which produces orange flowers about the size of his outstretched palm.
“It is very beautiful to see when all the flowers bloom. That is when I can sit back, relax and enjoy their beauty, knowing that all the effort I had put in has paid off,” he said.