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Delhiwale: The fleeting seasons of Indira’s secret garden

Indira Dayal’s secret garden thrives from around October to March. She plans a different arrangement each year, this time she styled it after an English meadow.

delhi Updated: Mar 05, 2018 11:09 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Delhiwale,Dilliwale,Indira Dayal
Indira Dayal at her rooftop garden in Anand Niketan.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

Winters in Delhi approximate the life of a butterfly. The moment you’ve developed a working relationship with woollens and heaters, it’s all over.

This is more or less how Indira Dayal probably feels when considering her lush array of flowers on the vast rooftop of the family’s Anand Niketan residence.

“Maybe two more weeks and the flowers are gone,” she speculates.

But she says she will derive consolation in some remaining creepers and of course the fruit trees. She spends part of her day up here, on the wicker sofa, sipping tea and reading novels like Steinbeck’s East of Eden.

The bloom in this extraordinary garden thrives only from around October to March. But then there’s always another season; and she makes every effort to mentally paint a picture of next year’s creation.

This time around, Ms Dayal strived for a less organised setting, rather like an English meadow. “I just scattered the seeds and let things happen.”

It was entirely different last year. Visitors understood that her garden was inspired by Monet’s impressionism, with flowers spread evenly over the tiles.

“It is my secret garden for just a few,” says Ms Dayal, helping herself to a dainty bite of home-made mushroom quiche. “The arts of painting, architecture, music, colour, literature and mystery are all included for me, but really this is not about me but of nature facing the challenge of turning what could be an arid rooftop into a slice of paradise for short while.”

Her husband, Viru, explains that the pomegranate tree over there isn’t exactly huge but does offer a few small fruits. “And then bulbuls turn up and finish off all of them!” The fond husband goes on to say that his wife buys pomegranates at the bazaar and then deliberately arranges them on the tree. So that the poor bulbuls have something to do.

And, next winter’s floral creation?

Ms Dayal has decided it will be like Virginia Woolf’s lover Vita Sackville-West’s garden at Sissinghurst, England. “We’ll have white flowers all over.”

First Published: Mar 05, 2018 11:08 IST