25-year-old Sakshi Bharadwaj from Bhopal has created an urban garden ‘Jungle Vase’ behind her home consisting of around 4000 plants, comprising 450 species. A lot of them being extremely rare.
Loss of Biodiversity has been a cause of concern off lately. Habitat conversion and destruction are eliminating species at such a threatening pace that extinction of contemporary species, and the system they live in and support, is leading to ecosystem imbalance. The younger generation getting farther from nature whilst getting glued to gadgets is a common notion. Yet, there have been examples to prove it untrue. Sakshi Bharadwaj, a young girl from Bhopal, is one such example.
The in-house idea
The unique sounding garden had its inspiration from a regular household chore. Sakshi’s mother thought of using a waste plastic bottle as a planter. The idea resonated with Sakshi, she started using junk materials in her garden. The start was like any other routine garden would be. Rose, Hibiscus, Snake plant became the early inhabitants of the garden. Sakshi’s day got busier grafting, watering and experimenting.
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She mentions her Masters in Microbiology came in handy to make this idea bigger. The compost pit created in her garden was indigenous, owing to her knowledge of the subject. She made use of charcoal and coconut husks as planters. The husks have great water retention capacity and can retain water for a long time. Charcoal also augments the soil’s ability by decreasing the leaching of nutrients by rain or watering.
Sakshi’s family acted as a pillar of support through her thick and thin in this journey. “They never stopped her from pursuing my passion. They were patient and were ready to help with resources, money and assist whenever I needed “ she says.
Rare Plants and Where to Find Them
With time the intent and effort grew. And so much that the fostered garden is now visibly mini-forest. Her curiosity led her to explore and experiment with rare species. She researched on the internet about the procurement of the same. Through various internet communities, she was able to cross-check and verify license holders who could get her the rare plants for the garden. Growing these plants require special attention. “I even have plants that are found in Amazon forests and have set up a greenhouse for it. Since these need constant humidification, we have installed a small waterfall to give a simulated tropical climate. “ she adds.
Into the Jungle Vase
Sakshi created this forest by using flower vases and hence named it ‘JungleVase’. The garden is self-sustained and biodegradable, housing 4000 plants ranging in 450 different species. A good number of these are rare ones from Thailand, Florida, North East of India, etc. Monstera Adamsonai is the first rare plant that she grew back in 2019.
A few other notable families are Philodendrons, Monsteras, Begonias, Pothos, etc. Sakshi devotes 2 hours daily before her work and 2 hours after her work to her garden. She and her mother also take assist of a caretaker to maintain and nurture the garden.
Here are a few plant species you might see in the Jungle Vase:
Nepenthes Tenax –
This one is quite a few similarities with the pitcher plant. It grows up to a height of 100 cms with the pitcher shaped flower on the top, having a height of 15 cms. This plant is now a part of the endangered species of the world.
A beautiful tropical houseplant, Calathea thrives in spots with high humidity. Hence, making it a particularly good pick for kitchens and bathrooms. These are good at improving air quality.
As a tropical plant, philodendron is particularly effective at helping clean the air we breathe. To have a healthier home environment, place philodendron plants in every 100 square feet of living space and let it do what it does naturally.
Its fruit tastes like pineapple and bananas are full of vitamin C, but it usually does not grow at home. However, eating unripe fruit from this plant can be toxic and damages the body.
People love visiting Sakshi’s house and sit around in this mini-jungle. They take pictures and ask questions. She feels this breaks the ice of common people to the alternative ways of gardening. On asked about her plans in near future, she says, “I wish to have a nursery, A nursery will make me eligible for the license and thereby help plant lovers get the desired rare plants. This culture of gardening needs to be promoted”
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