Saturday 23 March 2013

The cacti house

Bangalore has several distinctions and we at the post have tried to bring to the readers some of them.
One such distinction, which remains largely unknown, is that Bangalore is home to the second largest collection of cactus and succulent plants.
Cacti generally grows in deserts and semi arid and arid regions. Some of the cacti are so rare and a few have been put on the endangered list. A few of these can be found in this wonderful collection in Bangalore.
There is a little more than 1,500 different species of cacti and succulents and this garden stands next only to the Cactus Garden in Chandigarh in the number of plants and shrubs of this genre.
A conservative estimate puts the worth of cacti and other plants here at a minimum of  Rs. 25 lakh. Some of the species costs upwards of Rs. 1.5 lakh.
Many of the cacti have been imported from countries like Brazil, Mexico, Australia and Africa, while a few species have been brought from Orissa and other states.
Some of the species include the Desert Rose, commonly found in homes. The Euophobia Grandies, Mammillarias, Gasteria and Spanish Dagger are somewhat rare. While some cacti grow up to one feet in height, others reach up anywhere between five to six  metres.
This is the Cactus garden in the world famous Lalbagh Botanical Garden in Bangalore.
Though, many of the landmarks of Lalbagh are very well-known, not many pay detailed attention to the Cactus house. One reason perhaps is that it is a little off the beaten track though it is near to the Glass House. Moreover, the entire cacti collection is enclosed in a glass cage and this perhaps puts off detailed scrutiny.
The cactus house is perhaps the best garden of its kind in south India. Initially, the Department of Horticulture, grew 30 species of  cacti which it imported from all over the world. It then set up the greenhouse for the cacti under its plan to remodel Lalbagh on the lines of the Kew Gardens.
The specially designed glasshouse occupies 6,000 square feet and the cacti is grown here as they cannot tolerate the Bangalore climate. The structure was designed by landscape experts and the stones used are from granite companies.
The layout of the garden is beautiful and the sizes of some cacti are astounding. Some of the cacti are sourced from grafts obtained at Kalimpong, West Bengal, while others were grown from Indo-American hybrid seeds.
Generally, Cacti are natives of the American continent. They grow naturally and abundantly in the arid and semi-arid environs of  American deserts. Mexico is home to some of the exotic Cacti in the world.
The planting of the cacti began in 2002. Two labourers have been assigned exclusively to look after the plants which are watered  once in eight days through pipes directly to the roots. This is so as cacti cannot stand rain or water sprinkled on the body. Many of them absorb moisture from the air.
Weeding is done only when necessary and no fertilisers are required. They need minimal attention if they are in the right environment and Lalbagh has tried to replicate it.
The Cacti House is the result of four years of struggle by the Horticulture Department. The total investment on this project was Rs. 24 lakhs.
The initiative for building the Cacti House was started with an idea to introduce a garden similar to Kew Botanical Garden in London.
Well, look out for the Old Man of the Andes (Oreocereus celsianus), Arizona Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggi), Bishop's Cap and Cat and Kittens, all names of Cacti in the cactus house.
So, the next time you visit Lalbagh, spare some time for the thorns and look out for the Cactus house. Remember, you will not be able to see such a collection anywhere else in India except in Chandigarh. Why go all the way up north to see the Cactus when you can see them in Bangalore itself.

1 comment:

  1. Very useful post. Known worldwide for its elaborate buildings and arterial roadways, this calm, quiet city on the foothills of Shiwalik boasts of a plethora of incredibly landscaped gardens and parks. Of particular interest is Rock Garden, a fantasyland created out of industrial waste and rocks. Check out Cactus Garden Chandigarh, Aisa's largest cacti collection.