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 in Hyderabad which, 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.
Lalita Agarwal from Pune talks 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. “There are hanging plants from Thailand to hang in balconies and verandas which require occasional spraying with water and nutrition,” says Raj. Sixty-five-year-old gardening enthusiast Latha Srinivasan remembers a time when the courtyards of rambling old houses were havens of greenery and flowers. “Money plants tumbling over the window sills add a nice touch. Leafy plants like monstera and dracaena also do well,” she says. 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.” 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.JAYASHREE ARUNACHALAM