Munira Premji

Four weeks ago, I did not know what a hosta was.  Today I can actually recognize a Bleeding Heart, a Coral Bells and a Lime Ruffles Heuchera.  Yes, I have become a “wanna be” gardener!  This shift happened quite unexpectedly.  For the longest time, I found gardening intimidating, time consuming and tedious.  I avoided it like the plague and my garden showed the sorry effects of my lack of effort and energy.

File_000For some reason, over the past couple of months, I have been craving the need to bring life to my garden.  I have been visualizing endless flowers and green grass and vibrant colours.   But I did not know where to get started.  So I got a couple of quotes from a garden centre and landscaper to build a flower bed and found the cost prohibitive.  My friend, Deva, came to the rescue.  Deva is an instinctive, fun, passionate, loving and energetic gardener.  She lives and breathes everything garden and can happily spend her entire day in its sanctuary.  Her garden is the envy of her neighbours who drop by to get plant cuttings and advice.  For the past two years, Deva has been asking to work on my garden but I was too embarrassed to take her up on her offer.  This time she insisted and I accepted wholeheartedly!

Deva embarked upon my home with a plethora of plants and herbs and fertilizer loaded in her van.  She came prepared with gardening utensils, gloves, a hat and sunglasses.  She had me don a pair of gloves (which I very nervously put on).  And over the next few hours, we dug and planted and put soil in the ground and watered.  I observed Deva treat the plants with respect, and when I accidently broke a stem, she consoled the plant (and asked me to be more careful).

Sometimes we worked quietly putting our attention to the task at hand.  Other times we chatted and got caught up in each others’ lives.  And through all of this, I was noticing how happy I was just playing in the mud and watching the garden emerge.  And even though it is a young garden, I see the promise of design and colour and fragrance as it matures.  Deva instructed me on how to sustain the garden, including when and how often to water the plants. And, even though I am not very good at following instructions, I am committed to keeping the garden alive and well.  This is easier said than done!  Half the time, I don’t know what I am doing.  And then I will get a text from Deva that has just the right amount of instruction and motivation.  Here is an example of one of her texts:

“Plants are on sale at Home Depot.  You need to buy  3 x Lime Ruffles Heuchera, 2 x Bleeding Hearts (one in each color), 10 X Forget Me Not (flowerbed border at the front), 3 x Spring Fling Bergenia, 3 x Astilbe, 5 Coral Bells, 3 x Hostas in each variety. It will fill up the flowerbed for spring!  It will cost approximately $120.   P.S. Hurry hurry before the plants sell off…”

Nagib and I tentatively went to buy plants – a first for us – and we managed to live through this experience!  Then I asked Shayne to use his muscles to help me dig the part of the flower bed that still needed a few plants.  As he did this, I planted the new plants.  Woohoo!

And then today I get another text from Deva.  It is her texts that keep me motivated and thinking about the garden, and I am beginning to realize that gardening is an every day affair.

“Hi Munira, Lovely pics of Sabrina’s graduation! Just sending a note to remind you that you should be fertilizing the plants now. 5 L of water for 1 spoon of Miracle Grow (Ultra Bloom). Use a watering can and a bigger container of about 15 L to mix it. I have a 15L container and I use 3 spoons (spoon that comes with the fertilizer)! Happy feeding! :)”

Edward O. Wilson, a biologist, talks about the sensory experience of growing plants and how it stirs mysterious regenerative processes deep in our bodies and mind.  I have now experienced this first-hand, much to my surprise.  With my body filled with bad cancer cells, I am finding the need to connect to what is living and to support life as a novice gardener.  Working in the garden feeds my soul.  And on tough days, it gives me the purpose to get out of bed so I can water and take care of the plants.  And lately something beautiful has been happening.  Butterflies have been showing up, in abundance, to enjoy the garden.  Their presence brings so much joy to my life!

My friend Deva is looking to create a business by designing and building small gardens.  If this is something of interest to you, feel free to contact her at


  • Kathy Thom , May 30, 2016

    I’m so excited for you Munira. You’ve just discovered what gets us ‘hooked’ on gardening… it’s an endless creative project where there’s no right or wrong answers, just all kinds of possibilities (and know that most of us are just making it up as we go, which is fabulous); there’s something that happens from just being in the earth and surrounded by beauty and the birds, butterflies and sometimes even hummingbirds that will come with it are icing on an already scrumptious cake. Enjoy.

  • mylegacytoyou , May 29, 2016

    Dearest Munira,

    So glad to hear about the butterflies in your garden! Wait for more beautiful creatures to turn up throughout the seasons… The day a hummingbird pays you a visit marks the day you graduate from a greenhorn to a hotshot gardener! I got a hummingbird duo visit me every year… I’ve get to take a picture of them gambolling and showing off in my garden!

    Gardening makes us happy because it’s about nurturing, trust and optimism placed in nature that never fails to give back. There’s always room for more spectacular, more wonder, more gratitude year after year. It’s also about passing the love of gardening to others, which we’ve accomplished together– you and I.

    I am thrilled to hear that it gives you a purpose to get up in the morning! Being around green spaces is an amazing healer Munira, and it’ll add to your long-term health benefits. I totally believe in that. I am so happy to know that you are fully committed to this green exercise! I see that it has already become an inevitable part of your life rather than a daily choice…

    Beware Nagib! You are automatically appointed as the next contender of amazing husband material, who’d shop, carry, and haul plants, sheep dung, triple soil and etc. throughout the gardening season!
    You go Munira! Woohoo!

  • hennagirl , May 29, 2016

    Wonderful Munira! It’s amazing and satisfying to see new life growing each spring. You’ll enjoy your garden for years to come I’m sure!

  • Anonymous , May 28, 2016

    Gardening is fun and you never know the interesting visitors it brings about. Bumblebees, “wabbits”, squirrels, beautiful unique-looking birds and even spotted an owl in our backyard once.

    Enjoy and can’t wait to see your frontyard soon.


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