Plants are not like any other life form for well-known landscaper Daniel D'Souza, whose soul meanders around the plant world. It’s his reality, his expression. So profound is his attachment to plants that the same reflects on his arms in the form of tattoos. Daniel, a cancer survivor, now takes life easy and whoever wants his services as a landscaper can do only during the first half of the day -- the second half entirely belongs to him.
In a conversation with Gomantak Times digital, Daniel narrated how his passion for plants started at the young age of 4. As a kid, he would water his cactus plant every day without knowing he would kill it, but he would do it out of concern thinking the plant is thirsty. This explains his passion for plants at that nascent age.
In Goa, Daniel has carved a niche for himself as one of the pioneers in the landscaping business. He runs a well-known landscaping consultancy and has been working closely with plants for around 28 years and counting.
Daniel remembers his first clients for landscaping were Dipak Rajani, actor Frank Simons and Goa's singing sensation Remo Fernandes. He has also worked on garden projects for hotels and also the city of Panjim.
Talking about his experience working on the gardens in Panjim, Daniel says, "I have worked very closely with gardens in the capital city for 15-18 years. These are like my babies and I know all their ins and outs and also the type of soil that is there on the ground”.
He recalls planting trees at a campaign during the tenure of former commissioner Sanjit Rodrigues. Today, these trees have grown and are still standing tall. When asked if he sees any change in the gardens of Panjim, he says, “Much more can be done, only commitment and dedication are required”.
Coming back to Daniel’s landscaping work, what makes him stand out in comparison to other landscapers? Daniel believes in giving back to the earth, not destroying nature. He always stands against the use of plastic or using cement in his projects. One of his works that stands out is the ‘bog ponds’ which allow the ecosystem to coexist, as there is no use of artificial or concrete.
Daniel rues Goa is losing its green lands to concrete and urges people to plant more trees. Moreover, he encourages them to plant native or local species.
What makes Daniel the person he is today is all because of the lessons he has learnt over time. He owes his disciplined life and mannerism to his father who was in the armed forces.
He always thanks his parents for supporting his passion for plants. Most of the people, who have worked with Daniel, know him for his dedication and passion for landscaping and nature. Daniel is known for introducing the art of bonsai to Goa and the same can be seen in his magnificent garden at his house in Assagao, which is home to a variety of trees and plants.
He also has around 500 bonsais in his personal collection, including a 27-year-old banyan tree. He never gets bored surrounded by trees in his garden and his office is located right in its heart.
Currently, Daniel caters to a limited number of clients -- around 40 of them figure in his list. Also, he only works in the first half of the day, mostly in North Goa, and the second half is spent with his family and pursuing hobbies close to his heart.
Daniel avers that as Goans we should be proud of our soil and land. He believes Goans are duty-bound to conserve the soil passed on to them by their forefathers as it is their identity.