THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF PLANTS

Vaidyar: Naturalist, Xandari Pearl

We are seated in the restaurant at Xandari Pearl, Vaidyar and I, looking out at the swimming pool. The afternoon is languid, humid, even the usually vociferous birds have submitted to the heat. We hear the throb of the ocean. Vaidyar is swarthy and weather worn, a substantial moustache frames his upper lip, his hair thick and black, cut short, a joyous smile punctuates his conversation often. He is the resort’s naturalist, nurturing the lush 18 acre property.

Exquisitely landscaped with fruit trees, flowering and medicinal plants segueing in symphonic harmony, Xandari Pearl is a unique ecosystem populated by 80 species of butterflies, more than 350 species of endemic

plants, and about ten frog species. Little Sunbirds flit over bunches of flowers, Owls have been spotted often. Kingfishers precision dive into a large pond stocked with fish, even as Woodpeckers strike up a rhythmic staccato somewhere up in the trees that look on benignly. Outside, a gentle breeze has begun to blow in from the sea. On the beach, sea turtles ponderously come ashore followed by troops of crustaceans.

Vaidyar fondly reminisces “My family, has over generations, worked with nature, we are children of the soil, farmers once.” I notice that his hands are the colour of fecund earth, his fingers trace delicate patterns in the air as he speaks.

 

A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.

– LIBERTY HYDE BAILEY

“As a species we do not listen sir, human beings are bad listeners. We may be missing a lot of what’s going on. Sir, plants release attractive chemicals to pollinators, attracting species that eat pests, removing them from roots. Sir, I tell you plants listen too, to each other, unlike you and me….nature, sir.”

Vaidyar leans towards me, the texture on his facial skin is accentuated in the slanting late afternoon light. “I have been hearing insect-chewed tomato plants since when I was born. I have also heard other plants sing with joy and lament their moments of sorrow too. They rejuvenate when they start increasing production of compounds that upset insect digestion. And plants can recognise each other and their kin.” And then as the sun begins its descent into the ocean and shadows lengthen, the realisation dawns on me that Vaidyar is one of those blessed with a rare gift, the ability to converse in the secret language of plants.