BANGALORE: It's ironic, when you think of it, that gardening is becoming increasingly rare in what used to be the Garden City. Parks have been replaced by tech parks; bungalows have been razed to the ground to make way for high-rise buildings, and the new generation has been raised amidst concrete, not foliage. But amidst the tech parks and massive apartment blocks that now clutter our city, a few businesses have dedicated themselves to bringing gardening back into style.
Sunshine's Garden Boutique in Indiranagar is one such store that specialises in garden accessories and bonsai plants. "It is a very niche market," says owner Veena Nanda, who runs the boutique along with her business partner Robin Vora.
Catering to people who have room for a garden, they sell items such as garden furniture, tools, and even water bodies, along with decorative bonsai plants. However, as Veena admits, not everyone is familiar with the concept of accessorising their gardens. "People aren't really aware," she explains, "It's common to spend a lot on indoor decor, but people tend to be tight-fisted when it comes to outdoors."
Another problem is that the number of people who live in individual houses - and can therefore have gardens - is rapidly declining as more and more of our city’s inhabitants now live in apartments. Realising there’s no use fighting this trend, and deciding to work with it instead, a group of entrepreneurs founded My Sunny Balcony, a company that does balcony makeovers, creating little gardens in the limited space that most apartments provide.
"We design, create, and maintain balcony gardens for our customers," says Reena Chengappa, who runs the business along with her partners Sriram, Shailesh, and Athreya. "Our clients find it easy to call us and tell us what they need. It’s nice to be able to call someone who speaks your language and understands what exactly you want, instead of dealing directly with a gardener and risking miscommunication," she says.
"We usually work on a client-driven budget, and we design every garden from scratch; we never make the same garden twice."
Amazing as that is, however, a garden is a commitment that some people just aren't ready for, or are too busy to uphold. It’s still possible to have decorative greenery in and around the house, though, and without the effort of having to go to a nursery yourself; nurserylive.com is an online store that ships plants nationwide. Based in Pune, Nandu Singh and Arun Dixit, who run the nursery, cater to over 20 Bangaloreans a day.
"Our biggest challenge is making sure the plants survive through the courier process which can take over 10 days depending on where we’re sending them; for Bangalore it takes about five working days,” says Singh. “We use a special soil substitute that can keep the plants alive without light or water for a long duration, and we package them in special boxes so that they remain still, even when the box is moved around.” They stock over 3,000 varieties of plants, as well as certain seeds.
With these options available, there’s something for everybody, no matter what sort of house you live in. There’s no reason we should stop being the Garden City, even if it means we have to take the gardens indoors.