Home Gardens: Get Your Green On

By TheHindu on 09 Jul 2015 | read
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Windmills of your mind, Total Environment

It's that time of year again when ardent gardeners get out their spades, gloves and watering cans to tend to their patches of green heaven. Yes, maintaining a garden takes a fair bit of work but the benefits to be reaped from the process are many. For instance, you will always have a cool place to sit and drinking your morning cuppa and you can actually stop and smell the flowers before rushing off to work. Lack of space need not be a restraint either for those living in apartments, as you can always find a way to grow something small yet wonderful.

Healthy habitat

A variety of flowering plants can be grown indoors, with a bit of planning an effort. Begonias in bursts of red and pink , pristinely white peace lilies, musky African violets and amber tinted Amaryllis all grow indoors, and begonias can even be strung up in baskets to dot your living space with colour. Green is always soothing on the eyes, and cactus and spider plants are easy-to-grow options. If you're feeling adventurous, you can also try growing bamboo Although it can reach more than 10-15 feet in height when grown in groves, bamboo adds a lush and refreshing look even when indoors. It can be grown in a glass container lined with pebbles and stones, and filled with a few inches of water to submerge the roots.

If you prefer to gain more than just beauty for your planting efforts, vegetable gardens are the way to go to reap the most out of what you sow. In tropical climates, the list of vegetables that can be grown are endless. For larger gardens where soil is available, creepers such as various melons and gourds can be grown. Spuds and carrots grow easily both in the ground and in pots. In apartments, line the balcony or terrace with pots or trays sown with chillies, tomatoes, brinjal, bell peppers, spinach, beans and okra. These plants grow fairly easily if watered regularly and protected from pests. Slugs gave a particular affinity to okra so watch out! Those living in relatively cool climates can experiment more with fruits like mandarin oranges and strawberries. Your local nursery or botanical garden will have all you require to start your own little farm. Make sure to go organic with your manure and pesticides to get the most out of the flavour of the vegetables. Go eco-friendly by using old plastic containers to grow your little patch, and keep the plants healthy by adding some home-made compost.

An interesting way to add a dash of green to your kitchen is to create an herb garden. A simple trough filled with sand and placed near the window is all that is required to grow your own cilantro, basil, mint and curry leaves. For a more decorative version, try a brightly-painted box placed on the window ledge or attached to the wall outside your kitchen window. It will receive the most sunlight and bring some cheer to your neighbours as well! With your herbs ready to be used at all times, you can add a sprig of green to your tasty dishes.

Growing up!

The latest trend to hit homes and even commercial spaces is the concept of vertical gardens. Believed to have been designed and implemented first by French botanist Patrick Blanc in the late 1980s, this method of getting some greenery into your home is perfect for those with limited space. Vertical gardens, also called green walls or biowalls literally has plants growing up your wall but with zero damage to the wall. Blanc had been inspired by rainforests in Borneo and worked to replicate a bit of the forest within homes and on buildings.

Vertical gardens can be constructed within the home in an area which receives good sunlight. A metal frame is fixed to the wall to separate it from the foliage. This protects the wall from any water leakage and dirt. To the frame, waterproof PVC sheets are attached, and a variety of material can then be added on like felt sheet, jute bags filled with soil and plastic troughs. If jute bags or plastic troughs are used, the seeds are planted in the soil and grown till they hide the bags from view. Using felt sheets is less messy as the plants are directly inserted in small holes in the sheet. Both versions require constant irrigation, pruning and regular maintenance of the water pipes. The same concept can be applied to build free-standing vertical gardens. Ferns and ivies, even herbs and tomatoes can grow well in this arrangement. One must keep in mind the weight of the plant and its water and sunshine requirement while building a biowall.

Gardens are the most eco-friendly way to give your home a makeover. The green cover can be punctuated with reddish terracotta garden ornaments, tiled lotus ponds, wrought iron swings, kitschy gnomes and marble birdbaths. There's always the space for personal expression in your green getaway. Voilà home launches its new collection of decor options for this season. From golden-hued reusable wall art and rain-like decorative lights to jali-work dining tables, you can find all you need to do-up your home in style.