Coming up roses: Business owner grows variety of plants in unlikely place
BalaKrishna Reddy was a kid in rural India when he discovered his love for growing plants.
Now an adult in the United States, he grows a variety of roses and dahlias in what could be considered a unique location — a gas station.
The owner of Hobbs Street Minimart has a garden at the station, which includes 52 rose bushes, five dahlia plants and two jasmine plants. Red, pink, purple, orange, yellow, white and bicolor roses brighten the concrete landscape, and people can truly stop and smell the roses.
BalaKrishna said one of his customers had a wife who loved roses. The customer planted a lot of roses.
The man’s wife died suddenly, and he came in to tell BalaKrishna the roses were sick.
“He was sad because the plants were memories of his wife,” BalaKrishna said.
BalaKrishna wrote down everything the man needed to know — how to water, where to buy the things he needed.
“He was so happy,” BalaKrishna said. “That was what he needed.”
BalaKrishna’s own plants are watered daily. He feeds them every two or three days and watches carefully for bugs and fungus. He said he rarely uses chemicals.
“We do it all organic,” he said.
Just like us
BalaKrishna said a lot of people treat plants like nonliving things. He said they act like plants are rocks, when in reality, plants are the food and oxygen suppliers for all of the animal kingdom.
“They are living,” he said. “It’s a living thing just like us.”
The individual processes may be different, but BalaKrishna explained plants have quite a lot in common with humans. They eat and drink. They express hunger through nutrient deficiency symptoms.
They breathe, mate, produce offspring and die. They sense heat, light, pollution and pain.
BalaKrishna said plants, like humans, use their senses to survive. They even know stress, he said.
“They don’t have a nervous system or a brain, but they can still sense,” he said. “They can also express things in their own way.”
He said, for example, when it’s very hot, leaves will go low and be small. If there isn’t a lot of light, they will grow tall and slender to reach the light.
Sunflowers move toward the sun, and touch-me-nots close up when you touch them. Water lily flowers open only at night, he said.
“Chrysanthemum plants are able to sense the day’s length,” he said. “They need shorter days to flower.”
Many have said BalaKrishna’s plants are healthy and beautiful. He has received awards from the Athens-Limestone Beautification Board and Alabama Master Gardeners Association.
He loves the English roses, grandiflora and hybrid tea rose, the Floriabuna and miniature rose varieties. He also loves dahlias. In fact, BalaKrishna loves any type of plant and believes they should all be loved and protected.
He’s been asked if he talks to his plants.
“Not really,” he said. “We’re not talking in English, not in Spanish, not in an India language. But, they do have a special language you can understand, if you pay attention.”
And to humans, he says, “Please plant.”
“They will protect you, your future generations and the whole planet,” he said.