STRiVE

By Sonal Sumaria

Sea green, olive, dark green, forest green, lime, mint, pear, shamrock, emerald, seaweed, parakeet, sage, jade and viridian are a few of many of shades of green – the colour of nature, peace, life, renewal, energy and safety, I’ve seen and worked with. It’s a colour I’ll never be fed up of, it’s in my everyday life and most importantly it’s about my personality as a horticulturist.

‘Green renews and restores depleted energy. It is the sanctuary away from the stresses of modern living, restoring us back to a sense of wellbeing’ – Empower Yourself with Colour Psychology

Sonal

Photo shows Sonal smiling at the camera.

I’ve been studying horticulture for four years and I hope to own my own horticultural related business one day, or work in a famous botanical garden.

My love for plants started when I was only 8 years old. I went to a mainstream primary school and it was really difficult making friends my own age, as this was the period in my life when I was first diagnosed with my hearing and visual impairment. I felt isolated when it came to break and lunch time, as I didn’t have many friends. My hearing was much worse back then and having a conversation with people my own age was almost impossible.

One of my teaching assistants saw I was isolated and asked my Mum if I wanted to join the after school gardening club. My Mum agreed and I became the youngest member of the gardening club, as you’re supposed to start at the age of 9. Fellow STRiVE Harry Potter fans, does that sound familiar? Yes, Harry Potter was the youngest seeker in a decade and I was the youngest gardening club member since the club first started!

After Primary, Secondary and the dreaded GCSEs, I decided to study horticulture at diploma level.

I completed qualifications in Level 1, 2 and 3 in Horticulture. I am also qualified under the Royal Horticultural Society. Yes, I have a lot of knowledge about plants!

I have really enjoyed studying horticulture, as I felt stress free working with all these amazing plants. I have also become ‘immune’ to cold weather, as my body has become used to working outside, whatever the weather, and in this particular case, the UK is mostly cold all year round!

I met resistance with my horticulture tutor at the end of studying Level 3. I was hoping to study Level 3 in the second year but he said I couldn’t do it, just because of my visual impairment. I was in despair, I was very emotional that day. I decided to do the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) course, which was much tougher than Level 1, 2 or 3. I had to do exams and all my effort, hard work and dedication helped me to pass the exams. Hopefully, the fact that I passed an intense, world recognised qualification in horticulture, will make the teacher think twice before he decides to discriminate again.

I have dreams of owning my own horticultural business one day, due to the fact that I have so much knowledge, in fact, 4 qualifications and a lot of positivity. I would also love to work in a Royal Botanical Garden. In terms of Botanical Gardens, I would love to work at Kew, based in Richmond, Surrey or Pamplemousse in Mauritius.

Kew gardens

Image caption: Kew Gardens

Pamplemousse garden

Image caption: Pamplemousse, Mauritius

My mother is from Mauritius and I would love to work in the Botanical Garden there, as it is so beautifully well-kept and I have been a frequent visitor! But firstly, I need to get my Creole (broken French) up to scratch, as that’s the native language of Mauritius.

If you lovely readers get the chance to, visit the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, even if you have no sight, your sense of smell will deepen, as it explores all the scents of rare, seasonal and special plants.

If you guys are lucky enough to visit my Island home of Mauritius, please visit Pamplemousse Botanical Gardens, as the rarest palm trees from all over the world live there. You can also see the Giant African Water Lilies and even drink fresh coconut water!

The moral of my article is, whatever your dream is, grasp it, embrace it and take all the opportunities. Whatever people say to you, you can do better than they think you’re capable. Don’t let them boss you around, but make sure you share your ideas with your parents, or a close member of your family, as it was my Mum who got me through the past four years of my horticultural studies.

So, that’s it guys, thank you for reading till the end. Hopefully I will be working in one of my dream careers in the near future!

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