Monday, September 21, 2009

A garden of green, juicy, prickly wonders

A garden of green, juicy, prickly wonders
Lalbagh Gets India’s Second Largest Spread of Cacti
— Sruthy Susan Ullas

Bangalore: A fortnight from now, Bangalore can boast of India’s second largest cacti and succulent house. All thanks to the efforts of the horticulture department at the Lalbagh Botanical Garden.
With 1,500 different species of cacti and succulents, this garden stands next only to the Cactus Garden in Chandigarh. The garden has plants worth Rs 25 lakh, among which are some species that cost up to Rs 1.5 lakh. They have been imported from countries like Brazil, Mexico, Australia and Africa, while a few species have been brought from Orissa.
They include the Desert Rose, commonly found in homes, to rare species like the Euophobia Grandies, Mammillarias, Gasteria and Spanish Dagger. While some grow up to 1 ft or so, others reach up to 5-6 metres.
The plants have been kept inside a specially-designed glasshouse of 6,000 sqft, as they cannot tolerate the Bangalore climate. The structure was designed by landscape experts and the stones used are from granite companies.
Planting of the cacti began in 2002. Two labourers have been assigned exclusively to this project. The plants are watered once in eight days through pipes directly to the roots. “They cannot stand rain or water sprinkled on the body. Many of them absorb moisture from the air,” said Krishna Raju, botanist. Weeding is done when necessary and no fertilizers are required. “These plants grow in hilly regions in abundance. They need minimal attention if they are in the right environment,” Krishna said.
“The project is part of the department’s attempt to enhance the garden’s bio-diversity. We have more such projects coming up, like the anthurium and bonsai garden. We are following the path of Kew Gardens in London,” said Dr M Jagadeesh, deputy director, department of horticulture. The garden will be open to the public within two weeks’ time, but the view will be restricted from outside the mesh.


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