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Spring a surprise

Before winter ebbs and the summer arrives, walk down a garden path, learn the basics of bonsai, or just brush up on horticulture this season, Shreya Sethuraman writes.

delhi Updated: Feb 18, 2012 02:16 IST
Shreya Sethuraman
Shreya Sethuraman
Hindustan Times

The nip is still there in the air, but it brings tidings of spring - a time when everything is fuzzy and warm. A time when flowers are in full bloom, spring is the right time to take a walk in the Mughal Garden, to browse through the flower markets of Delhi and perhaps tend to some plants too.

The iconic Mughal Garden, at President's Estate, is open to the public in the months of February-March every year. It is home to more than 250 kinds of roses, making it one of the best rose gardens in the world. Where else can one find the Bonne Nuit (a kind of black rose), the Paradise (a blue rose) and the rare green rose, all in the same place, and at the same time? Mughal Garden regular Priya Iyer says, "I look forward to these months every year. Apart from being an intoxicating walk, I love to draw out flowers as well."

Talking about walks, Himanshu Verma of Red Earth (an independent private arts organisation) organises regular walks along the flower markets of Delhi. "Ever since the flowers markets shifted to Ghazipur (in August 2011), it's become important to raise awareness among residents of Delhi about the condition of flower sellers," he says. Earlier the flower markets were at Mehrauli, Connaught Place and Chandni Chowk. "There are more flowers in spring, and the weather is much more conducive to organise a walk," he says.

In the plush south Delhi locality of Sainik Farms, resides Hariom Ahuja, a consultant physician, self-confessed bonsai-lover, and former president of the Indian Bonsai Association (IBA). Bonsai is the art of dwarfing trees or plants and developing them into an aesthetically appealing shape by growing, pruning and training them in containers according to prescribed techniques. Ahuja says all bonsai activity begins in spring since this is the when plants start growing again after the dormant winter. "The time from mid-February to mid-March is a good time to cultivate bonsai."

The IBA conducts classes as well, which are elementary in nature and in case you want a deeper understanding of Bonsai, says Ahuja, "One can become a member of our association where we guide members through lectures, demonstrations and workshops."

The annual Garden Festival, held at Delhi's Garden of Five Senses, organised by the Delhi Tourism board every year, is also on this weekend. The fest, celebrating its 25th anniversary, is known for its floral displays, horticultural demonstrations and the garden itself is home to hundreds of native Indian plants, flowers and trees. For Saket resident Guunjan Gehani, 21, a student of psychology, the three-day bonanza is "the perfect spring festival one could ask for". Gehani, loves to gift potted plants to her friends. "The variety of plants you get at the garden festival is pretty vast, plus the fresh flowers make my day," she says.

Those with a green thumb can meet plant pathologist Somesh Jha, who conducts gardening classes in schools and NGOs, and also takes personal gardening classes for the interested. "Spring is a good time for sowing seeds for flowers such as poppy, gaillardia, zinnia because by summer they'll be in full bloom," he says. Jha took to gardening 10 years ago and has been conducting classes for the last two years. His classes include the fundamentals of gardening such as which soil/pesticide to use and the perfect plant to be sown as per the season.

So whether you have a green thumb or not, soak in the spring sun, it's only a matter of time until you'll hear the sparrows chirping.

First Published: Feb 17, 2012 22:55 IST