Flower shows at Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, conducted over the last 102 years of the Mysore Horticultural Society’s (MHS) existence, have attracted visitors and dignitaries from across the globe. The Independence Day Flower Show coming up in August this year, though, holds significance as it is Lalbagh’s 200th flower show. “Conducted during Republic Day and Independence Day, the show stands unique as it is the only one in the country that displays potted plants,” says S.V. Hittal Mani, (retd) Addl Director, Horticulture, and Hon. Advisor, “every other flower show in India displays only cut flowers.”
That brings us to the painstaking effort involved in seed sowing and raising plants in pots to display their blossoms twice a year.
“The effort of growing and nurturing plants is both an art and a science,” explains Mr. Mani, who is conversant with the 1854 species present in Lalbagh’s 240-acre premises due to his 40-year association. “Preparing for flower shows involves a 365-day schedule, as showcasing 3,500 plants would need around 15,000 raised pots to choose from,” he says.
Interestingly, Lalbagh was initially a 40-acre private garden of Mysore ruler Hyder Ali in 1760, that was further developed by his son Tipu Sultan. The garden was expanded exponentially by British and Indian horticulturists to include the present 240 acres which now house some of the world’s rarest plant species. Lalbagh was declared a Government Botanical Garden in 1856.
“Lalbagh has training centres that teach plant nursery education, concepts for terrace and vertical gardening, Ikebana, floral art, vegetable carving, dry flower arrangements, etc.,” says Gunavantha J., Deputy Director of Horticulture, Lalbagh Gardens. Trained people are encouraged to take part in the flower show competitions.