While space is a problem for some, maintenance is a headache for others. Take heart, Bindu Gopal Rao shows you around three City houses to demonstrate how creating a home garden, no matter how big or small, can be a breeze and well worth it.
A recent survey ranked Bengaluru second in the list of most polluted cities in India, as far as air pollution is concerned. This is certainly a matter of great concern for the denizens of Garden City. However, in an effort to revive this sobriquet, several homeowners are making a conscious effort to add a green space in their homes.
Here’s looking at three homes in the City — an apartment, an independent home and a penthouse — that are making it making it happen. Space needn’t be a constraint, really.
An apartment garden
Rashmi Rao stays in an apartment in Basavanagudi and has made good use of her balconies, which are acting as her lung spaces. Since she lives in a limited space and among limited natural resources like sunlight and of course, ground soil, she has plants that are easy to grow, sturdy and require low maintenance.
“My garden is a small but significant element in the house. I have dedicated the space in my two balconies specially for plants. This includes lots of indoor, shade-loving plants as well as succulents. I also have lots of plants that grow in water like money plants, creepers and other herbs. To hold the pots, I have installed granite slabs and they can be easily cleaned,” she explains.
Also, since the kitchen balcony has the highest amount of sunlight coming in, Rashmi grows coriander, mint, methi and green chillies, albeit in small pots in that space. “I also have plants in glass containers that are specially planted with charcoal and coco peat. That way, they need very little water on a daily basis,” she adds.
In fact, having plants in this form also allows Rashmi to use them as elements of decor across the home, whether in the living room, dining room or even in her bedroom. “I love to have an element of green in each room. These days, there are a wide variety of planters available in attractive shapes, sizes and colours; I use them
extensively, to match the decor of my house and to make it look attractive. I also
accessorise my garden with knick knacks like terracotta articles, hangings, cane
baskets, water kettles and the like. I make ample use of all grills in the window and
balcony by using hanging pots,” she adds.
A penthouse terrace garden
Prerna Sachdev has a penthouse apartment in Sahakarnagar and the top-level has a terrace garden. In the terrace, she wanted to create a pleasant green space to relax and entertain. It already had a sheltered nook with outdoor furniture, but she wanted some greenery to spruce it up.
“We decided to get handcrafted garden products and accessories, as well as plants suited to the area. We now have a beautiful yellow terracotta urn featuring a tall frangipani plant, a Spanish style wall garden with seasonal flowers and a little Zen-style nook with a running water feature and foliage plants for a bit of tranquility in the space,” explains Prerna.
The idea was to add splashes of greenery wherever possible, without crowding up the floor space. “The central area of the terrace was perfect for a tall feature, and this is where a big bright yellow urn came in. The wall gardens of Cordoba and Santorini in Spain have always been an inspiration, and Bengaluru’s weather allows us to grow many Mediterranean flowering plants like geraniums, and these went up on the wall, housed in terracotta pots mounted on iron wall brackets. A little-used corner of the terrace space was perfect for a lovely water feature and we decided to go Asian here by introducing a bamboo backdrop, a small recirculating water feature and lots of lush foliage to complete the look,” she adds.
An independent home garden
Arun Chittilappilly, managing director, Wonderla Holidays Ltd., has a weekend home tucked away in the corner of the company’s staff housing area on Mysore Road. “We use that house to get away from the hustle and bustle of the City, and to enjoy some quiet outdoor time. We designed the house to have a large garden space with a 6,000-sq-ft lawn, and a large paved porch,” he says.
They have used low-maintenance plants like oleanders and plumerias around the porch and main lawn and some ficus and palm trees are placed around the space. “We use this space mostly to entertain guests, or for our son Arav to play with his friends on the weekends. We also have another enclosed private garden with a pond, cordoned off from the main lawns. The entry to this space is through a small pathway with concrete tiles, lined with scheflera hedges, melaleuca and bahunia trees,” adds Arun.
The private garden has granite paving lined with grass and offset with a geometric-shaped pond. The space is lined with bougainvillea, with some palms and gulmohars for company. “We use this space to have our morning coffee or to just read a book and relax. The soil in the area is very fertile and untouched, so we have used the backyard of the house as our own vegetable garden to grow some organic fruits and vegetables. We grow pomegranate, papaya, cabbage, eggplant, chillies, curry leaves, and tulsi,” he says.
The garden was designed as part of the house itself, and they wanted everything to be maintenance-free. So, the structures and pathways are all made of concrete and granite. They have used hedges and creepers to cover these structures to give a green feel to the whole place. In fact, it’s difficult to see any concrete or brick walls on the boundary now, as it’s been covered beautifully by plants. “We have used locally-sourced grey granite extensively to style the house and the garden.”
Now that you have been acquainted with three successful gardening examples from your own City, it’s time you start on a green project of your own. There’s every reason to. It’s not so much a matter of space as it’s a matter of will.