Make space for some green

Make space for some green

Make space for some green

Rising levels of pollution and shrinking green spaces are prompting people to have their own gardens. For those constrained by space and ideas, Sarah Thomas looks out
for some creative methods.

City dwellers would completely agree with the fact that home gardens are a must-have in current times. The rise in pollution levels and high rises around are saddening to anybody who would have seen or heard of good old Bengaluru.

Currently, many such city dwellers are trying to recreate that old feel of the City through some greenery in their homes. As a result, gardens and patios have become the latest fad. Those who do not have too much space are opting for terrace and balcony gardens, a true respite from the daily commotion.

Dr Vandana Krishnamurthy, co-founder of Urban Mali, a home gardening initiative that promotes organic gardens among the urban folk, described the many gardening trends that have come about in the recent times. Vandana says that through their setup, they try to bring about an emotional connection between plants and people and since gardens attract birds, bees etc, it also helps bring back urban biodiversity.

Going green vertically
Speaking of gardens, Sneha Warrier, owner of a beautiful terrace garden, explains that a lack of space is a major concern in many homes and that is why, garden lovers have started opting for space-effective gardens. “I have always been fascinated with plants. I have a terrace garden but I know of many who have limited spaces and have used it to their advantage to create lovely balcony gardens or vertical gardens. Gardens are no longer a term to describe landscapes, with lawns and flower beds. Any place neatly done up with plants all around is a garden and having even a few square feet of beautiful plants to adorn the place is a blessing,” she expressed.

Vandana shares the same opinion. She states that for those with a smaller space, vertical gardens are the best option. One way to go about it is to use a metallic trellis as a frame on the wall and allow a creeper such as passion fruit or jasmine to grow on it. They look lush and add a lot of aesthetic value to the home, also making sure that you have a physical connection with the plant, as it not only looks exquisite, but can also be harvested.

Though this sort of garden looks beautiful, Vandana states that it needs to be connected to an irrigation system and requires high maintenance. However, another easier alternative is to have metal frames attached to the wall; these serve as a frame to hold colourful pots and containers that can be used for drooping plants like hemigraphis. It is a purple-leaved plant, which when spotted among other plants, looks exotic. It is also called the purple waffle plant, optimum for the indoors as it requires less light.

Veggies in your kitchen
Vegetable gardens have been the trend for some time. People find it gratifying to be growing their own vegetables and then having them cooked. Since one is actively involved in growing the veggies, there is awareness of what is being cooked and how healthy it is. You also do not have to worry about the pesticides being used. Vandana says, “Vegetable gardens are most people’s preference as it results in the productive use of a space and is also a very rewarding activity.” You get to enjoy the fruits of your labour right at your home.

She also says that most often, people who are willing to get their hands dirty and are really passionate about potting plants, go for vegetable gardens. “Those who have seen their parents gardening and have grown up with that sort of an environment, usually ask for plants that can be used in recipes or that have a medicinal value and all our plants are therapeutic in nature.” For a vegetable garden, you need to be a DIY person willing to experiment and grow some tomatoes, coriander or any other vegetable that you may be fond of.

For the love of recycling
Contrary to popular beliefs, beautiful and trendy accessories and containers aren’t always the way to beautify your garden. Some garden owners have recycled items such as plastic bottles, wine bottles, buckets, old boxes etc, as containers. Tyres too are being used to pot plants. Vandana has a few clients who come to her with recycled material, requesting her to do up their garden and it comes as no surprise that these gardens look rustic and beautiful, all at the same time. You can paint tyres and hang them with plants and you have something out of the box and quirky.

Merlyn D’costa is someone who uses a variety of material such as wine bottles, tyres, old brass pots as planters and she very proudly calls her balcony a hanging garden. At night, she turns on the serial set thats wrapped around these glass bottles and the plants are illuminated giving her hanging garden a touch of magic.

Little forests
Terrariums are in vogue now. These are great gifting items as they are little gardens in glass containers. A terrarium mimics a forest. These beauties can be kept indoors and must be taken care of very well as they require diffused light and need to be layered with little manure, sand and soil. Succulent plants need to be used for bottle gardens and it can be quite difficult to create terrariums at home. But they can be easily bought from gardening stores or nurseries.

If you are very keen on creating one on your own, you would need to experiment   a lot with the plants and have a good irrigation system, that allows the plants to get used to the environment you are growing them in. A little too much or too less can damage the plants. But once you do get it right, the sight of your beautiful terrarium would bedazzle you.

One for therapeutic plants
Vandana states that there has been a rise in demands for therapeutic plants and at Urban Mali, they make sure that every plant has some sort of a medicinal value. “There are many plants that people use in their gardens for their medicinal value, the gymnema is extremely popular as it cuts off any taste of sweetness in the mouth. Here, we get people to chew on its leaves and then give them sugar and they immediately notice the difference as anything sweet would start tasting like mud. It is also used to treat diabetes,” she informs. Lemongrass is another plant she says which is popular because of its numerous benefits. It is good for the stomach and can be used for herbal teas too.

Flutter in the garden
Vandana explains this new trend of having butterflies in one’s garden is catching up among many garden lovers. “These are gardens that have plants that attract or serve as a host plant for different butterflies. Lime and curry leaves attract particular butterflies and serve as host plants. Having them in the garden would mean you get to see pupa and caterpillars and in time, you would witness its metamorphosis. The crotolaria or the rattlepod is another such plant that attracts all kinds of butterflies. It also rattles when you shake it as the seeds are released within the pod. What makes this plant special is that at one time, you can see about 25 to 30 butterflies on it,” she says. Isn’t it truly amazing to witness something so beautiful in your very own garden?

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that a garden in today’s world is not a matter of choice but is a necessity. Now that you know of the current home garden trends, go out there, get your hands dirty and create a lovely garden for your home. Do your bit for Mother Nature while she does her bit and spruces up your home.

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