Bhola of the popular Bhola Nursery on Rana Pratap Marg tells us, “Now people don’t want just roses and lilies for their gardens; they ask for flowers like gardenia, adenium, orchids and camellia, to name a few. These are not just rare plants, they are expensive too. A one-foot tall adenium plant costs `500 at least, and a camellia costs `2000. Pehle toh humne inke naam bhi nahi sune thay, but when people started asking for them, I have started keeping such plants in my nursery,” says he.
Agreeing with him is Sandeep Rai of Sandeep Nursery in Mahanagar. “Not just institutional buyers, there are individuals in the city too who are spending a lot of money on their gardens. I have plants costing as much as `5000 simply because people are willing to pay that much for these rare and exotic plants.There are a few varieties of palms which cost nothing less than `2000 – like the Archontophoenix Palms which cost `5000 a piece. People want what is not easily available and are ready to pay any price for that exclusivity ,” says Sandeep.
A fact corroborated by Rohita Suri, who maintains a beautiful garden in her house in Nirala Nagar. “Greenery is very soothing and money is no criteria for beauty . I am a nature and a plant lover and greenery appeals to me whether it comes expensive or cheap. I have several expensive plants in my garden, which I have bought not for their price but for their beauty ,” says Rohita.
Suneeta Mehrotra, a landscape and bonsai artiste in the city , adds, “There are people who spend lakhs on their gardens in Lucknow. Palms, bougainvillea, junipers these are expensive plants yet people are increasingly going in for them in the city . Certain varieties of bougainvillea cost anything between `1200-3000 and yet people who are fond of gardening and have knowl edge about plants, are buying them.
The Lucknow climate isn’t suitable for growth of palms, but there are people I know who have spent up to `10,000 on a single palm.”
PROCURING FROM OTHER CITIES
Rashmi Vaid, who boasts of a beautiful garden that has fetched several awards by the state government, says that till a few years ago it was not easy to get exotic plants in Lucknow. “A lot of these exotic plants that I have in my garden, I have brought from my travels abroad or from different parts of the country . But now, we get lots of rare plants in the city which is great for plant lovers like me.”
Madhuri Halwasiya, who’s got the rare Love Apple blooming in her garden says how difficult it has been for her take care of the plant. “There are hardly any people in the city who have this fruit tree because it’s sapling is not easy to get. I got mine from Malaysia.”
With more and more Lucknowites coming forward to buy these exotic plants, nursery owners have started sourcing them from metros and hill stations. Jawahar of Jawahar Nursery on Rana Pratap Marg, tells us, “People sometimes demand plants and flowers that were unheard of in the city till now. So I tell them to show me pictures or write their names, and I order them from Kolkata or Bangalore.” He adds, “The demand for orchids has increased these days.” “For each sapling which we get from Eastern India or Myanmar, the minimum cost is `500 and can go up to `2500, depending upon the variety.,” adds Jawahar, “I also had a customer who wanted a pine tree sapling. I got one for him from Nainital and sold it to him for `5000. The cost of such plants goes up also because they are not available in the city and have to be brought from places like Kolkata, Bangalore or Dehradun. Sometimes, the seeds are imported and then cultured in nurseries in Delhi and Mumbai. The cost factor automatically goes up then.”
Rashmi Tripathi, a teacher, requested one of the nurseries in the city to source a ginger lily plant for her after she saw it at her friend’s place.”I had seen a plant of ginger lily at a friend’s place and loved the fragrance of the flower. I asked around for it in a few nurseries but no one had it.Fortunately , one of them knew about it and offered to get it for me from the hills. I paid `1500 for a plant, and I feel I’ve invested wisely ,” says Rashmi, who recently bought a passion fruit creeper, also known as the rakhi bel locally , costing `1200.
Growing herbs at home has also caught the fancy of city folk. Mani Misra, a homemaker, prefers using fresh herbs in her cooking. “I grow celery , parsley , basil, thyme, sage and oregano in my garden. I also have desi ones like ashwagandha, arjun and brahmi in pots. My husband and I, both are very fond of gardening. We paid a lot for these plants, because we got them from Mumbai and Dehradun as they weren’t available in the city .They are expensive, no doubt, but worth the money,” says she.
Seeing the growing demand for such plants and vegetables, Ashish, who owns a nursery in Alambagh, has started stocking up on seeds of herbs too. “Till about a couple of years ago, people didn’t know what thyme or celery was, but now they ask for them commonly . They are expensive, but people love growing them now,” says he.
EXOTIC FOOD FOR THE SOUL
It’s not just flowers and herbs that have caught people’s fancy . Exotic fruits and vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and strawberries are also in demand now. As Munnilal of , Pechulal nursery says, “During summer, the demand is slightly less but in the winters, I stock up my nursery with saplings of exotic vegetables and herbs. Vegetables like zucchini, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, Kohlrabi, etc are very popular. In fact people seldom ask for saplings of usual vegetables like bhindi and taroi now.” And these saplings don’t come cheap. “Zucchini is difficult to procure and is mostly bought from foreign countries. A packet of 10 seeds can cost up to `750. Whereas a sapling of kohlrabi and Chinese cabbage wouldn’t cost less than `500,” informs Munnilal.