It’s May, a time when the iconic Government Botanical Garden (GBG) in Udhagamandalam turns into a burst of colours. The timeless calla lillies, liliums, dahlias, salvias, and marigolds that grow in this 55-acre garden set up in 1848, are in full bloom ushering in celebrations and summer festivities.
Over 45,000 flower pots displaying a variety of blooms and 10 lakh seedlings are being readied for showcase at the 125th annual flower show that happens between May 19 and May 23.
A gallery of potted plants numbering to several thousands display as many as 200 varieties of exotic flowers including sapanarias, ranunculus, dianthus, petunias, statice and marigolds at the annual festival.
Exotic flowers are a big draw at the floral gallery, especially the trumpet-shaped flowers, the calla lilies that resemble an upturned bell in colours from deep burgundy to lemon yellow and bright orange. Along with specials like purple limoniums, orange and pink gerberas, there will also be a line up of tulips, hyacinths, and liatris along with native blooms.
Most floral decorations will be theme-based, driving home awareness messages. According to an official at the horticulture department, themes including Ooty turning 200, international year of millets, cutting down on plastics and bringing back the manjappai, and building a Nilgiris on sustainability will be highlighted.
The Horticulture Department starts preparing the garden for the annual show as early as October. They purchase seeds of exotic flowers from dealers who import them from Japan, Canada and other European countries. Several lakhs of seedlings are nurtured at the garden to ensure that the plants are in full bloom in time for the festival.
The Nilgiris district administration has planned other events to ring in summer festivities including the vegetable show on May 7 and May 8 at the Nehru Park in Kotagiri.
“Be it the flower show, rose show, spices or fruits, representatives from eight districts of Tamil Nadu will design structures themed on something unique from the region. For example, the team from Dindigul make a replica of the famous Dindigul lock,” the official adds.
There is also a photography exhibition at the Horticulture Department office in Charring Cross, organised by the Forest Department. Award-winning macro photographer K Jayaram, who chose the winners of the photography contest, says the wildlife, birds and Nature categories received an overwhelming number of entries. “Photographs were judged in various categories including landscape, buildings, and people besides Nature and wildlife,” he adds. From May 13 to May 15, the spices show will be held in Gudalur to highlight a number of spices like cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper grown in the hills.
A lavish treat is in store for rose lovers at the 18th edition of rose show that will be held at Government Rose Garden in for three days from May 13. Over 50,000 roses will be used to create a splendid imagery of some of the floral installations.
The fruit show, often considered a visual treat, attracts tourists to Sim’s Park in Coonoor. Fruits like pears, peaches, plums and oranges that flourish in the hilly terrain as well as fruits of temperate, tropical and sub-tropical regions will be displayed in the shape of animals, among others. The show will be held on May 28 and May 29. This year, the district administration has announced cultural events and dances, featuring performances by indigenous tribal communities of the Nilgiris. You can catch Irula men and women dance rhythmically to a tune played on drums and pipes at the event held at the RCTC auditorium between May 18 and May 24.
Exhibits by women self help groups and others will be installed at the RCTC parking lot along the Garden Road between May 18 and May 31. Meanwhile, a boat race will be held at the lake on May 19. As the summer festival in the Nilgiris returns after a gap of two years, the flower show, the marquee event of the annual summer festival is expected to draw lakhs of tourists. It drives the economy of the region. And, a tour of the Nilgiris is incomplete without a stop at the historic botanical garden.