Hollyhocksn Beans growing in the rooftop garden. (Photo Courtesy: Nosano Kikhi)
Nosano has been making a rooftop garden all Spring and now we can see the harvest of it in summer.
‘Gardening is so therapeutic’ she says and I can think of several people who would second that.
Nosano’s rooftop garden was something she embarked on early in the year. One can see that it would be great therapy in the months of lockdown, and even otherwise especially for town-dwellers who want to garden but have no space outside. Thanks to the photographs she generously shares, all her friends could vicariously participate in her garden life and watch the baby plants sprout and mature. In a few weeks, we participated in the joy of seeing her sweet peas bearing pods and looking healthy.
In her own words she tells what the garden is all about:
‘EarthCare Foundation, a non-profit NGO has given me a holistic approach in incorporating the whole aspect of our God-given natural resources with God the Creator himself. In early 2019, my sister Khrieseno Kikhi Zao encouraged me to attend with her, the EarthCare School and at Director Rob Blakely’s home in Christchurch, New Zealand, I got first-hand exposure. My small rooftop garden in Kohima which was once a bare cemented area, has since become for me not only a haven to cultivate vegetables, but also a holy ground where I spend time with God. In rotation, I’ve grown from seeds, vegetables like carrot, beetroot, dwarf cherry tomatoes, NV dwarf beans, local lentils, lettuce, broccoli, chillies, NZ gherkins, sweet peas etc, the harvests and saplings are shared among neighbours, relatives and friends. I’m developing the habit of praying as I work in the garden, a habit learned from Rob. Rainwater harvesting is a regular rooftop activity. Poultry farming is being done in one corner.
I can see how some plants are better off being planted alongside each other, marigolds with vegetables, nasturtiums with beans, tomatoes with garlic, and realise how, in God’s unique plan, we as the body of Christ, are also meant to connect beneficially. Through EarthCare I have made some good friends who are good for my growth. At EarthCare, I learned that gardening is about knowing the Father’s heart, how he feels about the world and how he has ordained mankind to take care of it. The other aspect is that it is all about the soil, the plant will show the quality of the soil it is planted in.’
A series of photographs show her bougainvillea looking like it is about to invade the neighbouring roof. The gnarled stump has surely weathered many years of sunshine and rain on that rooftop. The veteran that it is, it blooms profusely and proprietorially taking up space that the other plants must have been eyeing jealously. Without the gardener’s intervention from time to time, one can imagine that space allocation can become a little civil war of sorts.
I saw a lovely picture of ripe strawberries hanging down the side of a flowerpot, inviting the viewer to pick them. That was a lovely introduction to her fabled garden. Beyond the strawberries are pots of beans and native yam, its big leaves covering the pot in which it was born. In a corner stands a strong young plant that suspiciously looks like neem; that would come in handy for stomach disorders, me thinks.
A happy hollyhock has popped open and it is like a good infection as others run to join its pink song. Flowers and succulents are part of this Eden. And with great pride the owner introduces visitors to the two new occupants, namely Beetuo and Beenuo, the two bumblebees that came uninvited and seem to have decided to stay. A successful garden needs compost right? What other than organic compost would this garden use? The gardener explains that the best compost for her is raw kitchen waste and dead leaves that have been left to decompose into plant food. ‘They love this’ she affirms. There was another occupant that I had difficulty in seeing with my naked eye, but Nosano insists that her jade plants have a tenant who she calls Lizano. If you have any luck in spotting Ms Liz, do let me know.
There are creepers in the backdrop of this Edenic rooftop: mustard coloured nasturtiums cling to a wall, or gracefully amble over the ledge to whisper encouragement, presumably, to the dwarf beans below. Life speaking to life.
The gardener reflects on her garden and says it is ‘a place to quieten our souls.’ So needed in this day and age, lockdown or no lockdown. People’s souls are unquiet; they hear only that which unsettles them – virus wars and rumours of more wars, rumours of unkindness, rumours of starvation and suffering to come. A garden is a perennial symbol of peace, of the regularity of nature that refuses to be interrupted by anything adverse around it. Thank you Nosano. Would you teach us to make our minds gardens like yours where flowers of hope and peace grow?