Sunday, September 13, 2009

Garden City grows green thumbs

Garden City grows green thumbs
Mini Joseph Tejaswi | TNN


When people call Bangalore a Garden City they generally refer to the city’s lovely, large, green spaces like Cubbon Park or Lalbagh and to the various municipal gardens that dot Bangalore’s localities. Oft forgotten is that the city is also home to hundreds of thousands of home gardens. Though Bangalore is getting vertical, it still is a city with large number of independent homes, each with a tiny patch of green. A home garden — be it ornamental plants or vegetables — serves many purposes for the homemaker. While a well-maintained garden is a source of pride, the very act of gardening is rejuvenating, destressing and calming. Also ask any home gardener and he or she will vouch for the therapeutic values of time spent on watering, weeding or tending to flowers and plants.
According to M Jagdeesh, deputy director (horticulture), Lalbagh Botanical Garden, more women and families have taken to home gardening in the past couple of years. “People today are extremely conscious of their health, the environment they live in, what they eat and what they breathe. We see a clear increase in the number of homemakers who buy ornamental plants, vegetable seeds and trees from Lalbagh. It’s not that only if you have an independent house you can grow flowers or vegetables at home. Many people who live in flats maintain kitchen gardens on their terraces, balconies or have hanging pots from windows,’’ he says.
In fact, interest in all aspects of gardening has increased in recent times and so has the need for more information and education. Lalbagh imparts training in growing mushrooms and various other vegetable/ flower varieties.
Vidya Murthy, wife of a senior IT professional, is into growing exotic plants like nutmeg, cinnamon, water apple (pink & white), gooseberry, jackfruit, guava, mangoes, lemon, curry leaf, pepper wine, cherry, sitafal, pumpkins, grapevine and many kinds of herbs at her Narayan Nagara residence on Kanakapura Road.
“I developed a green thumb growing up in Kerala. Also, my ancestral house in Udupi, which is on the banks of the Katpadi river, has a lot of vegetation. I started missing that green element in Bangalore. Finally, I realized that creating it myself was the only option to cope with the loss,’’ says Vidya, who is also a freelance writer.
Shakunthala Sridhar is a zealous home gardener and maintains an exceptionally large home garden with a wide spread of flowering, fruitbearing, ornamental plants and coconut palms. “The city has lost a key chunk of its green cover. Our parks are getting thinner day by day, walking paths are drastically diminishing and our lungs are filled with carbon and lethal gases. So, I have decided to create some lung space on my own,’’ says this homemaker from Basavanagudi.
Some of these kitchen gardens comprise roses, crotons, hibiscus, jasmine, sunflower, gerberas, carnations, gladiolus, champas, brinjal, chillies, curry leaves, tomatoes, lady’s finger and mushrooms.
Not just with housewives, gardening is increasingly becoming a family affair. For retired engineer Govindaraj, who loves a daily stroll in his home garden, Bangalore is still the Garden City and a Pensioner’s Paradise.
“We enjoy the company of plants. Smiling flowers give us a big moral boost and happiness. Gardening is a very satisfying and relaxing exercise,’’ Govindaraj’s wife Nalini.
Gardening is a popular hobby for a number of reasons, apart from aesthetics. People garden for exercise and some for the enjoyment of harvesting a green produce. A garden can be a wonderful place for the whole family, as they provide opportunities for playing, learning and having fun.
Well, not just plants of smaller size, if you are lucky with some open space around your home, you can also grow coconut palms, black pepper, cocoa and pineapple, spices like ginger, turmeric, yam varieties, thereby creating a modest reflection of biodiversity in your own backyard.

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