KERSASP ‘KERSIE’ SHEKHDAR
NATURE-LOVER, PHOTOGRAPHER & WRITER FROM KARACHI, PAKISTAN
I used to be an avid gardener in my youth but because I am now a busy writer I have to be a casual gardener. However, I am and always will be a Nature Lover first and foremost. As a professional and vocational writer I have authored pieces on quite a variety of subjects which have been published on an equally motley collection of websites.
I have a strong preference for low-care flowering evergreen bushes that bear clusters and bunches of brightly-coloured florets for months on end. Duranta erecta, Lantana camara, and perennial Verbenas are favourites. In more trouble-free and leisurely days I used to grow, among other flowers, Zinnias and Pansies which are my favourite annuals. I love Azaleas, dislike cactuses, and am indifferent to roses. I suppose my ‘softest spot’ is for Gerberas because those are the plants through which my beloved grandfather kindled a lifelong love of gardening and nature within me.
I wish I could say I have a ‘Gardening Philosophy’ but I don’t. I try to be sensible and work with and within Nature and my capabilities. I simply hate it (with a vengeance) when something terrible happens because I did something I shouldn’t have done.
I don’t believe in being weed-happy. If you see something sprouting and you do not positively identify it as an unwanted weed, give it a chance. Perhaps Persephone has sent you a gift? Among such gifts sent to me are Bluebell Vine or Blue Pea and a Cardinal Flower lookalike.
My busy lifestyle has also reduced the time I now have for DIY using my hand tools – what a pity to have an Allen socket-and-wrench set, Vise-Grips, and such, and not put them to regular use. However, I still do the odd simple job and am reasonably handy in and around the house with my fairly comprehensive collection of both brand-name and Chinese no-name tools.
What are some of the must-have tools you’d recommend for beginner gardeners?
“If you live in a flat and have a balcony garden, you can get by with a trowel, fork, and cultivator, best bought as a set. Add to that a pair of secateurs and a watering can, and you’re all set.
Now if you have a little garden of your own in which you will prepare beds and grow plants (but not bushes, climbers, or trees), add a pair of gardening gloves and a shovel and a Dutch hoe, draw hoe, or both. If your garden has stony, calcareous, or simply compressed soils, also get a gardening pick.
Next, get a hosepipe of the appropriate length. A wheelbarrow will be very useful to move soil, manure, and sand, and to cart away cuttings, leaves and such.
If you have dense shrubs and bushes, your next buy should be a bypass loppers to keep things trim and tidy. If you have small trees or much deciduous shrubbery, a rake will be a smart buy.
Finally, if you have bushes or climbers with stout branches or have small trees with thin limbs, get that most underrated of garden implements, an anvil loppers. An anvil loppers is for a markedly different purpose to, and is also handled very differently than, a bypass loppers.”