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Updated: December 1, 2009 17:06 IST

How does your garden grow?

JAYASHREE ARUNACHALAM
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Low maintenance gardens
Low maintenance gardens

Time and space are no longer issues: welcome to the world of easy gardening.

Gardens and gardening have always held strong appeal. There's Miss Marple and her battle against weeds in St. Mary Mead, Mary Lennox and her visions of blossoming roses in The Secret Garden, and Alice's adventures with the critical Tiger-Lily and the severe Rose in Through The Looking Glass.

Move to 21st century urban cityscapes, and you can see the change. “We live in vertical constrained spaces,” says Raj Shekar of Hobby Hub which, catering to satisfy people's leisure needs, houses an extensive nursery. “Most people have no space for horizontal gardens.” Even those people who enjoy a little greenery fringing their apartments suffer from constraints of time, with hectic work and play schedules overshadowing the more mundane routine of watering plants.

However, like true children of our times, lack of time and space can no longer stand in our way. Several low-maintenance options are now being popularised amongst the horticultural circuit to provide easy solutions to the gardening conundrum.

Hobby hut Kalpataru recently had a workshop by Madhvi Chandan and Lalita Agarwal from Pune on bottle gardening. “It's survival of plants without maintenance,” explains Lalita. Using transparent containers – they could be fish bowls or wide-necked bottles – she deftly shovels peat, gravel, charcoal to absorb excess moisture, and compost into it. Slip slow-growing, humidity-free plants into the bottle and seal, and the plants can live for years, requiring very sporadic spraying with water and no direct sunlight to keep them going.

The options are endless. Hobby Hub has introduced several ideas into the market to solely cater to this new group of green-conscious yuppies. “There are hanging plants from Thailand to hang in balconies and verandas which require occasional spraying with water and nutrition,” says Raj. “Bonsais or lucky bamboo shoots which only need to be placed in a bowl of clean water are also popular, especially because of vastu and fengshui reasons.”

Sixty-five-year-old gardening enthusiast Latha Srinivasan remembers a time when the courtyards of rambling old houses were havens of greenery and flowers. “It's difficult to replicate the same vibes when you're stuck in a fifth-floor flat without even a plot of land to cultivate, but I try,” she says. “Money plants tumbling over the window sills add a nice touch. Leafy plants like monstera and dracaena also do well.” For a little more flower, orchids can brighten up the dullest living space.

However, the newest kid on the block is vertical gardening. “We call them living walls,” says Raj. “It's an integrated system, with its own irrigation, nutrients and drainage systems.” With Hobby Hub recently importing the technology from Canada, these living walls offer the perfect solution to the lack of an actual garden. Self-watering planters are the other new flavour, forming a ‘pot in a pot' of two layers, allowing the water to drain and then recycle back into the plant. “It's nearly zero-maintenance,” says Raj.

We all know the science of it. Greenery in the living space relieves stress, increases oxygen flow, decreases indoor pollution. With science simplifying itself, there's no excuse to skip going green.

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