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Terrace of life

With her love for greenery, an assistant professor has created a little space at her home where potted lotuses, lilies and other water plants thrive

Published: 21st November 2021 06:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st November 2021 06:26 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

MANGALURU: Purple, white, yellow, pink and a whole host of vibrant shades compose a welcome sight! Coupled with that, the beauty of lotuses and lilies in full bloom complete the portrait of nature. This flowery creation is at play on the terrace of a house on the outskirts of Mangaluru.

With a passion for green spaces and love for nature, 34-year-old Sneha Bhat, a resident of Kotekar near the coastal city, has collected over 15 varieties of lotuses, 60 water lilies -- both night and day bloomers, and around 45 water plants, which call her terrace home.

An assistant professor of BCA at SDM college in Mangaluru, Sneha was always fascinated with greenery. “Lotuses, lilies and water plants mostly grow in ponds. I wanted to experiment if they could still be grown without a pond. That curiosity led me to this hobby,” she tells The New Sunday Express.

She started collecting flowering plants from different parts of the country. It was when her family moved to Chamarajanagar that she beheld ponds full of lotuses. “Later, in Periyapatna and Kushalnagar, I saw some of the most beautiful lotuses. I picked plants from there and replanted them in small pots,” she says. 

Yellow Peony

Now, her terrace has transformed into a heaven of lovely water flowers and plants. She has used a tarpaulin to create a pond for lotuses and other water plants. She uses a mix of soil, pond slush and cow dung powder in small pots to hold the plants. Initially, her experiment failed as the plants did not produce flowers, which led her to research further. “It was all trial and error. Gradually, I was able to contact some experts through groups of aquatic plant growers on social media. I joined lotus- and water lily-related groups on Facebook, and post lockdown, there were many WhatsApp groups which also helped me know more about these plants.”

Today, Sheha has rare varieties of tropical water plants, which are a day bloomers, like Purple Joy, Bulls Eye, St Louis Gold and Lindsey Woods. Among lotuses, she has Queen of Hearts and some Thailand varieties. In water plants, there is a collection of Mexican Swords and others. She has exchanged some of her plants with her friends and relatives, while acquiring several other exotic varieties from different parts of the country, including from Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, and several places in Tamil Nadu.

To ensure that her plants grow as naturally as possible, Sneha has been growing them using organic techniques, utilising cow dung cakes, groundnut cakes and slushy mud. “There are some expensive varieties, but I am growing only those which are suitable to this region,” she mentions.

Habitat creation
Growing lotuses and lilies attracts a host of magnificent insects, such as butterflies and sting-less bees, drawn by the mesmerising fragrance that each flower emanates. “A water plant works as a pollinator which is very important for gardening. Also, I have introduced guppy fish in the pots to prevent mosquitoes breeding in the stagnant water. Besides, birds also arrive to drink water -- while crows and doves eat the fish and snails. The terrace has created a biodiversity of its own, which also keeps the surroundings cool,” she explains.

Apart from being attractive, the water plants also have medicinal value. “They can be used as ingredients in making cosmetics and for Ayurvedic treatment,” Sneha adds. Meanwhile, Sneha is part of a group called ‘Hasiru Butti’, through which she sells plants. “I am not doing anything for commercial gains. My intention is to encourage more women to take up gardening. Also, many people lost jobs during the pandemic. Instead of sitting idle at home, they can engage themselves in hobbies like gardening and get income too,” she suggests.

Many students and people have been inspired by her garden. She receives visitors regularly who want to look at her green treasure trove, which also includes a vegetable patch, and a fruit garden, yielding passion fruit, star apple and papaya. 

Her husband Raveesh and daughter Samanvi also help her care for her terrace of plant life.

45 water plants
15 varieties of lotuses 
60 water lilies both night and day bloomers
Several vegetables and fruits
 



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