Growing grapes, guavas and pomegranates in polythene bags and having seasonal winter flowers bloom in peak summers, and that too on the terrace of a house in North Delhi may sound outlandish to many, but not to Madan Gopal Kohli

While the idea of growing grapes, guavas and pomegranates on the terrace of a house might seem odd to many, for Madan Gopal Kohli this only marks the fruition of a passion for gardening which has made him innovate and derive results like few could imagine.

While his terrace garden which is spread over nearly 50 square metres at C-8/118A in Keshavpuram is a treat for anyone who loves gardening, the hundreds of plants also speak volumes about the effort that Mr. Kohli puts into nurturing and saving them in the searing heat.

The terrace is a veritable feast for the eyes. Plants in baskets, old bottles and even polythene bags vie for space here. A former defence personnel, Mr. Kohli knows the art of spacing and placing them really well.

His efforts over the past 29 years have also fetched him four recognitions from the Limca Book of Records. In 2008 a two-year-mint (pudina) plant hanging from a pot had reached a length of 2.18 metres; then in 2010 he grew the tallest marigold plant in his terrace garden to a height of 1.96 metres and only this year a cosmos planted by him in April 2011 in a pot reached a height of six feet. Apart from a mango leaf in his garden had grown 16 inches long and six inches wide and fetched him recognition.

So how does he manage to keep the plants healthy and strong in the extreme weather of Delhi? Mr. Kohli insists it requires a lot of discipline and careful tending. “I water and tend to them for two-and-a-half hours in the morning and then again for about two hours in the evening. Apart from the sun and wind, I also have to protect them from monkeys and birds.”

But it is the effort in taking buckets full of water to the plants which is most demanding. Giving a tip, he said: “I have always ensured that the phenyle water that is used in mopping the house is also not wasted and put into the pots. It carries some mud and also keeps pests away.”

Another key to keeping the plants healthy is changing their mud and putting manure every six months.

Mr. Kohli believes in sharing the knowledge of experience he has gathered over the years and this is a reason why for the past 19 years he has been organising a mini-terrace flower show. The show attracts a fair number of visitors who all get to see how over 35 varieties of seasonal flowers, roses, ornamental plants, succulents, palms, cacti, bonsai, creepers, vegetables and fruit can be grown on a small terrace – provided there is a zeal for the job and the dedication and discipline that the hard work demands.

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