As a child, Karuna Kumari wanted to become a farmer. But that wasn’t an ambition that received much support. So, she did the next best thing - she started a plant nursery! Today, Karuna Nursery is a veritable treasure-trove for the many gardening enthusiasts of Chennai. From plants that cost 100 rupees to magnificently curated bonsai varieties that cost a whopping 7-11 lakhs a plant, Karuna is the go-to lady for green enthusiasts.
It was in 1998 that Karuna Kumari opened her nursery on ECR. “I had no exposure to running a business or how to bring together my passion and revenue. It was a struggle as I come from a simple Andhra family. But I learnt on the job. I learnt from losses and pitfalls. Today, I am glad I supply to some of the top people and corporates across South India.”
“Plants are everything to me and nurturing them is like taking care of my own children”, says 65-year-old Karuna. The nursery houses thousands of plants. There are indoor and outdoor plants, air-purifying plants, hanging plants, medicinal and aromatic plants, cacti, succulents, shrubs, creepers, climbers and even saplings of fruit trees. All these plants arenurtured using traditional methods and organic fertilizers.
Karuna Nursery is home to some rare and expensive botanical varieties, including some which cost several lakhs of rupees. Clerodendrumthomsoniae, also known as the ‘Bleeding Heart Plant’, Aphelandra Sinclairiana, commonly called ‘Panama Queen’, Crepe Ginger (Cheilocostusspeciosus) and Pachystachys lutea or the ‘Golden Shrimp Plant’ are some not-so-commonplants available at the Karuna Nursery Garden.
It also stocks plants that are considered sacred and used in worship, like the Mahavilvam, Krishna Kamal, White Lotus, and Paneer Pushpam.
The nursery makes a point of encouraging millennials to learn about the process of growing plants. “We are always open, all year round, and schools and colleges bring their students on visits. We teach the young people the importance of nature and how to take care of plants”, says Karuna. She adds, “Children must learn the value of the soil and its rich nourishing powers. Plants and foliage in general are essential for calming our mind and with so much stress in today’s times plants can be the perfect panacea.”
Karuna has embarked on an interesting project now where she encourages small apartment residents also to have a balcony garden.
Karuna Kumari, who recently received the annual ‘Successful Business Lady of the Year’ award instituted by PuthiyaVanigam, a business magazine, is now helped by her nephew Ravindran in the running of the plant nursery. Her family comprising of her son and daughter-in-law and extended family hold fort at this 3-acre haven on ECR....