From adding colour to our dull offices or a touch of Zen to our homes, plants are an integral part of urban decor. With the cityscape undergoing a major facelift and plant-scaping taking centre stage in urban households, the demand for indoor plants in Kolkata is increasing rapidly.
Of late there has been a boom in private nurseries initiated by several horticulturists and nurserymen on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass.If you are a regular on this road, you cannot miss the two huge green patches near Ruby and Patuli that soothe your eyes and comfort your senses. With four nurseries near Ruby and fourteen at Patuli, opposite the Floating Market, the residents around the Bypass are getting a highly-desired break from the concrete jungles.
Come winter and people flock to buy flowering plants. While the nurseries of Patuli have a variety of flowering and decorative plants, those near Ruby have a large number of fruit and medicinal plants. Enter these nurseries and you will be dazzled by a riot of colours. The plants are generally sourced from Baruipur and Aamtala areas.
Petunia, lily, dahlia, dianthus, bougainvillea and rose are the best for this season. These flowers, with their delicate aroma and pastel shades, would add a soothing touch to your verandas and drawing rooms. If you are looking for flowers for auspicious occasions, you can choose among genda, rajanigandha, jasmine, nayantara, tagar, madhabilata and hibiscus.
Decorative plants with attractive foliage fit seamlessly during landscaping and designing of modern offices and houses. Erica, keya, money plant, benzonia jamaica, kalash patra, tropic snow, aglaonema, green desina, cardoon and jhau are some of the popular decorative plants.
Fruit plants include litchi, mango, guava, lime, jackfruit and Chinese orange, which are tiny but remarkably sour, and make a beautiful sight. The common medicinal plants include neem, tulsi, amla, pudina and clove.
While the tiny saplings cost as little as Rs 10, the bigger-sized potted plants cost between Rs 30 to Rs 500. Some rare varieties also cost between Rs 900 to Rs 1200. The attractively coloured varieties come at Rs 15 to Rs 280. Other products such as the right kind of soil for the plants to stay anchored, manure, medicine and so on are also available. Manures and fertilisers range from Rs 15 to Rs 100 per kg while the medicines cost from Rs 30 to Rs 700 per bottle.
Though land and water supply is not a problem, it’s not easy to run a nursery since sourcing rare plants and maintaining them in a healthy, disease-free condition is a big challenge. At least two labourers are appointed in each of these nurseries who are constantly watering the plants, adding the right amount of manure to the soil and taking good care of the plant health by spraying medicines.
The labourers are sourced from suburban areas such as Diamond Harbour, Amtala, Bongaa, Habra, Lakshmikantapur, etc., and are provided with cooking and lodging facilities inside the nursery premises along with a stipend.
During the peak season of winter, the nurseries make decent money by selling the plants. But during off season, when there are very few plants which blossom and there are hardly any clients, they resort to landscaping contracts for the local urbanites, lawn mowing and door-to-door sale of plants. Some at that time are fortunate to get involved in landscaping with big projects.
Running a nursery is no child’s play. “The cost is too much to bear,” says a frustrated Khokon Adhikary, who has been running his nursery for ten years. “After paying a stipend of Rs 300 to Rs 500 per day to the labourers and bearing the cost of manure and medicines, we manage to just stay afloat.” According to Palash Paul, “Local goons demolish our plants and create nuisance and we have nowhere to go to.” On the other hand, Pintu Mandal says, “During summer we are somehow able to make ends meet. However, with winter approaching, our good times are here again.”
Next time you wish to add a dash of green to your balcony, rush to EM Bypass and you will be spoilt for choice.