Saturday, February 06, 2010

KEEP IT GREEN

KEEP IT GREEN
This five-star hotel has just won an award from The Mysore Horticultural Society for its lush landscaping and high maintenance standards
SHILPA BANSAL, Kumara Krupa


Step into The Lalit Ashok and you will be blown away by its lush green surroundings. The hotel’s green stretch spans 7.5 acres, covering almost one-fifth of its 10-acre plot. Little surprise that The Lalit Ashok, Bangalore, was recently awarded The Best Ornamental Garden accolade by The Mysore Horticultural Society. This award was given during the January 2010 horticultural show, under the Special Outstanding
Garden (ornamental category). “In this show, one can register either under the ornamental category or vegetable category. We opted for the ornamental one, which had three sub-categories, divided as per the total land area. We registered for all three sub-categories and showcased our main lawn, garden by the poolside and the lawn opposite the business centre. And, we won awards for all three,” says Meena Lochani, executive housekeeper, The Lalit Ashok.
The green landscape has more than 100 species of exotic, indigenous, perennial and flowering plants and trees, managed by a dedicated team of horticulturists. Meena, along with the horticulture officer, Mayappa is responsible for maintaining all this. “In the show, we highlighted the araucaria tree in our main lawn; it is about 150 years old. We have many other trees just like this one. We have also planted a small cluster of flowering beds on the edges of the lawn. There are many flowering plants like red salvia, marigold, asters and genus, which are all seasonal. They blossom in August and January and we sow the seeds just three months before the season,” says Mayappa.
Apart from these lawns and gardens, The Lalit Ashok boasts a greenhouse behind the tennis court where the hotel cultivates various hybrid fruits and vegetables. “For the past six months, we’ve been growing orchids and red anthurium in our greenhouse. Basic vegetables like tomatoes, radish, brinjal, cucumber, bottle gourd and greens like spring onion and celery, which are used in our kitchens are also cultivated in this greenhouse,” explains Meena.
And the hotel plans to go completely organic and eco-friendly. “We already practice various eco-friendly measures to maintain the park’s lushness. Our Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) recycles huge amounts of sewage water daily; this is used to maintain our landscape. In addition, we use products like STP sludge cakes, which are utilised in-house as garden fertilisers. We have a full-fledged horticulture department that produces ecofriendly fertilisers by decomposing dry leaves and garden waste (leaves manure). We are even planning to work on worm compost, which will also be used as garden fertiliser,” explains Meena. What exactly is worm compost? “This is one method of making your own manure in an organic way. For this, there are tanks that contains peels of vegetables and fruits mixed with red soil. To this, we add worms, the excreta of which turns into manure over a period of time,” explains Mayappa.
In the coming months, the hotel will also boast a herb garden. “This garden will be next to the green house. Here, we plan to cultivate various organic fruits and vegetables, especially all the herbs required for our Oko kitchen,” smiles Meena.

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