By Shyam Sundar Vattam
COVID-19 pandemic may have eclipsed Mysuru Dasara festival, but it has failed to dampen the spirit of gardeners who have continued to take care of their hand-bred plants, watered with love and affection. One of the main attractions of Dasara festivities every year has been the garden competition specially conducted for citizens. Participants showcase their talent through rearing plants of different species and varieties. It is not an easy cup of coffee as preparation would start 6-8 months in advance to ensure that flowers bloom exactly during Dasara time.
The Department of Horticulture holds competition in gardening in various categories and one among them has been the Home Garden Contest for the citizens — ornamental garden, rooftop garden, vertical garden and lawn — for which three prizes are given in each category.
Some persons are very much fascinated to this hobby and spend hours together in their garden looking at every plant as if they are kids. Horticulturists are consulted regularly and sometimes invited home to see plants’ health. Experienced gardeners are sought after because of their deep knowledge about fruit and flower-bearing plants. Festive atmosphere prevail at home to invite friends and relatives to see the garden. Sometimes judges themselves are confused in deciding the winners as each and every garden looks fabulous.
Although, the gardening competition was cancelled this year due to COVID-19, participants have not stopped taking care of their plants.
“All the events and competitions are cancelled this time due to Corona threat. We are disappointed. But nothing is more important than life. There is always a next time,” a majority of gardeners, who have won prizes in previous competitions, told Star of Mysore.
Waste not wasted by nonagenarian
Ninety-year-old C. Saldanha, a resident of Saraswathipuram, is perhaps the oldest participant in Dasara Home Garden competition. He has been participating in this competition since 1978 and has bagged several prizes in the last four decades. Age has not stopped him from involving actively in gardening. He has bagged a shield for winning consecutively for three successive years. A variety of roses and Bougainvillea still adores his garden. The used plastic milk sachets are reused to plant saplings. “Earlier, I had 500-600 varieties of plants, but now, it has been reduced due to my age factor. Apart from gardening, I have secured first prizes in birds show, cat show and dog show. I am still actively involved in Horticulture Society.”
This time, the competition was not held due to Corona pandemic. Some things are beyond their control and we should be ready to accept the reality, he said.
Safety is paramount
Rashmi Ravindra, another avid gardner and a resident of Siddarthanagar, is feeling sorry for the cancellation of her favourite competition this time. Having won several prizes in Ornamental Garden category, she had added new plants in the garden but the event got cancelled. “Nothing can be done as the entire world is hit by Corona pandemic. Safety of every individual is very important,” she opined.
Caring plants is worth experience
B.K. Ranganath, a resident of Vidyaranyapuram, has converted the entire terrace into a beautiful garden. Flower, vegetable and fruit-bearing plants have dotted the roof garden. He has used the unskinned dry coconut to plant ornamental plants and hung it in the garden which is giving a natural look. “I find pleasure in watering plants. Spending time amidst plants is totally a different experience. Apart from home garden, Dasara dolls are arranged in my home. More than winning prizes, taking care of plants is worth experiencing,” he noted.
Shamala Prasanna of Lakshmipuram, one of the active participants in Home Garden competition and a winner of competition in Ornamental Garden (medium scale) category, said she was disappointed when she learnt that this time the Dasara Home Garden competition was cancelled. It was definitely a bitter sweet moment as this would have been her silver jubilee (25 years) participation year in the competition and something she was really looking forward to since previous Dasara. “Though the competition is cancelled, I still want to share photos of my garden and spread some positivity in a world of negativity and being unsure when things will return to normal. My hobby of gardening has been therapeutic and has kept me going. Since these past 7 months, I have been able to channel all my energies to tend, love and care for my garden and my plants. My hard work finally paid off when I saw my plants respond; they are now greener, healthier and more beautiful than ever. The bonsais are the ones that I worked the most on since the lockdown and have created a few landscapes. Further, I created some vertical frames using succulents and have reorganised the arrangements in every corner of my garden to give it a fresh look.”
Spirit not dented
Five-time winner, A. Pallavi Adarsh, a resident of Vani Vilasa Mohalla, has been contesting and winning prizes almost every year, under ‘Individual Bungalow’ category. “Initially, I felt disappointed when they announced that Home Garden competition is cancelled this year due to COVID-19. Participating in Dasara Garden exhibition and competition year after year has brought boundless joy. This year has been different, but it doesn’t dampen our spirits to grow green.
My garden houses fruit bearing trees like Mango, Avocado, Jackfruit, Chickoo, Custard Apple, Papaya and Gooseberry; Plantation crops include Coconut & Lemon; Lawns of various kinds; Ornamental plants like Dresina Colorama, Cycus, Star Light, Panda, Golden Cyprus, Aloe Vera, Jade, Mayuri, Alfinia, Big Lily, Pendanus, Acalifa, Croton, Jamia Phycus, Bamboo Grass, Nalina & Golden Dave (border plants) besides a variety of flowers.