“I had been stuck at home for months. So now when I got to head out in Unlock 4.0, I chose to go to a nursery because just the sight of greenery is a welcome change from the mundane walls that have engulfed my spirit during the pandemic,” says Prasoon Awasthi, a Delhi-based MBA student. Awasthi, whose parents also accompanied him to the recently reopened Sunder Nursery, adds, “There is so much open space, so social distancing isn’t something that was difficult to follow; it happened on its own. And we came back with flowering plants and seeds that we have planted in our house, which has finally become vibrant since the lockdown.”
“The months of September and October are the best for planting flowering saplings. Petunia and Marigold were on top of my list of plants that I had to buy.” – Nishtha Rathore, a Greater Noida resident
Many millennials in Delhi-NCR, who had nurtured their gardening skills while homebound during the pandemic, are heading to nearby nurseries now to indulge in their newly acquired hobby. Take for instance Nishtha Rathore, a Greater Noida resident, who shares that she recently visited a few nurseries in Delhi including Masjid Nursery at Pandara Road, and Royal Nursery, to look for certain plants of her choice. “The months of September and October are the best for planting flowering saplings. Petunia and Marigold were on top of my list of plants that I had to buy. I’ve even planted a few chilis in a pot near my window, and it’s such a joy to see them thrive. We also asked our landlord to put a few creepers in the balcony, so that it adds to the greenery,” says Rathore.
Ajay Kaushik, assistant director (horticulture) at Delhi Tourism that maintains Garden of Five Senses, says the upkeep of gardens and nurseries in the Capital assumed a bigger role amid the pandemic. “Watering plants came under essential services and we rallied our workers to ensure it was done. We need plants for more oxygen levels in the city at this time.” He adds the flowering bushes in nurseries attract visitors at a time when stepping out is a luxury. “Plants like Champa, Hibiscus, Crossandra, Lantana, Verbena are in full bloom these days. Even seasonal ones like rainy season Lilies, Portulaca, Marigold and Cosmos have made public gardens and nurseries come alive and youngsters love to be in the company of this vibrancy,” explains Kaushik.
“People have been coming to buy indoor plants, fertilisers and manure since many have taken to gardening at this time.” – Vikram Saina, from Masjid Nursery at Pandara Road
Millennials don’t just view plants as plants anymore. Small shrubs can be the perfect home decor, or even an ideal eco-friendly gift. “Being surrounded by plants, trees was a refreshing experience,” says Ridhi Solanki, who works in Gurugram. She too made a trip to a local nursery recently, to purchase a succulent for her work station. “I roamed around the place for an hour, before I bought a small Jade Terrarium. It gives more colour to my desk,” she adds.
Nursery owners and gardeners say the demand for small succulents, cactus, and flower plants has increased, even though business remains dull as compared to pre-Covid times. Vikram Saina, who runs the popular Masjid Nursery at Delhi’s Pandara Road, says, “There is a demand for seasonal plants, since flowering season is here. People have been coming to buy indoor plants, fertilisers and manure since many have taken to gardening at this time. Plants like Petunia, Chrysanthemums are top of the list because they are vibrant and add colour.”
“Youngsters have been coming in for small succulents. We have also been selling a lot of vegetable seeds since Delhiites have taken to organic farming.” – Vijay Pal, gardener at Sangeet Nursery
Vijay Pal, gardener at Sangeet Nursery in Shivaji Enclave, agrees with Saini. “Youngsters have been coming in for ceramic pots and small succulents which are hassle free. We have also been selling a lot of vegetable seeds since Delhiites have taken to organic farming and edible gardens,” he says. The owner of the nursery, Arun Singh Rajput, adds that oxygen producing indoor plants are also in great demand. “People have been buying Areca Palm, Snake plant, Aloe Vera and Tulsi to keep in their gardens.” However, he adds that since people did not step out earlier, the business has suffered losses. “Hum ₹100 ka plant ₹70 mein bech rahe hain. We are not even bargaining. So much of our produce decayed because we had no buyers. So as of now, we are just happy that people are stepping out to buy plants,” adds Rajput.
Author tweets @bhagat_mallika