Monday, November 30, 2015

Growing orchids in the city

Growing orchids in the city? ... impossible! Or so I was told.
Until, I just had to show them. Cattleyas with ruffled pouty lips in a five-petalled haiku.
City-grown and city-bloomed, with no greenhouse or misting system in sight.
Just plenty of good ol'-fashioned sunshine reaching past plant-laden window-boxes and beaming on even more orchids on my window-sills ...
And moist, humid coastal air. Plus, a neighbour's leaky AC unit drip-drip-dripping onto my lucky orchid plants ...
For every sceptic and nay-sayer who says it can't be done, a mammoth Cattleya orchid that blooms its heart out in a flourish of gorgeousness. Right here in the city, in an apartment window jostling against a bustling road.
Mokkaras and every Vandaceous orchid blushing a healthy happy hue. Of exuberant pinks ...
...and sun-dipped yellows.
These are the Vanda days. Of warmth and light and bounteousness all around. No skimping on anything!
Phalaenopsis are amazing! Smashing every preconceived notion of how they should grow and that too, so cheerfully.
From brightest fuchsia to palest pink, Cattleya or Dendrobium. All tropical orchids, all city-grown among the rough and tumble of traffic and noise and pollution. Thriving, blooming, thrilling... point proved! 


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Travel: More floral artistry in Zurich


So did you get an eyeful of the glorious flowers that Zurich's florists dish out in my last post?
I do have one more florist whose work demands to be featured too. I was overwhelmed by the gorgeous plant and floral art created by Regula Guhl and her team at ' Blumenbinder ' on Oberdorfstrasse, Zurich.

It was just down the road from my hotel  and within strolling distance from the other florists that I had blogged about in my last post (which makes me believe that perhaps Zurich has no idea how much of floral riches it has, waiting to be discovered!).

I was walking off a particularly satisfying lunch when I saw a couple of very fashionably dressed ladies leaning in and ooh-aahing over something.

Then I moved in closer and discovered that it was oooh! ... simply drool-some !
"Pelargonium," one of them was whispering to the other.
Was it? I have no idea, I had never seen this plant before. But I do know that if I had been living in Zurich longer I would have grabbed this large pot of pink happiness for myself.

Here's a closer look so you'll know just what I mean. (And if you know its name, do tell me)

Then I got a clearer look at the space which had been hidden from view till then and found a whole profusion of potted plants and bunches of flowers ... hydrangeas and morning glories and geraniums and poppies and even an exuberantly blooming hibiscus.
It was so beautifully arranged and displayed!
If you don't believe me, check out the first photo in this post and then tell me that you aren't drawn to all those little plants, full of blooms and each in its own little bark pot.
That is so clever! I love the look of bark around a pot. So infinitely more attractive than ugly plastic pots. I really must try that with some of my own plants at home.

On second look, the bark,  like the cane basket, was more like a cache-pot into which the original pot was inserted to make it look prettier. Guess what? It worked!

But there's something about the flowers here. They look ... happy! I cant think of a better description. Well-cared for, happy and displayed to their best advantage. I love places that lavish so much care over their plants.

So I had to meet the people who were responsible for this. I went in to find Regula and her team busy in prepping whole bunches of flowers which some of them were arranging in large buckets and placing some against the wall.

Of course, I had to tell them that I'm a plant addict and flower-junkie too. Just standing in that room with the fragrance of hundreds of flowers wafting from every side and seeing huge clouds of blooms smothering every available inch of space, was sheer heaven!
So Regula took a break from her work to listen to my excited gasps of how exquisite everything was and Angela, one of the lovely florists there, gave me a rose to sniff ... and laughed delightedly as my eyes grew wider.
I swear that rose smelled divine! I forgot the name of the rose (me and my non-existent memory!) but if you take a look at the photo above, you can see it, I think. The white roses in the bucket on the floor ... heavenly!

But I didn't want to distract Regula and her team much longer so I wandered back outside to gasp over the potted plant display all over again. Take a look...




When a display like this can take the attention of a little kid away from an ice-cream, you know it has to be simply awesome, right?
Love, love, LOVE these!!! Wish I could have brought all of them home.
Or better still, I guess I'll have to work on finding great reasons to return to Zurich and sinking myself in botanical ecstasy all over again.
Yep! That sounds like a great plan to me ...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Travels with The Urban Gardener : Meet the floral artists of Zurich


This is a post which is long overdue. Way, way over past overdue, actually.
Sometimes Life tends to gleefully over-ride each and every good intention (there goes my a-post-a-week plan!) and then cunningly dump so much work and other stuff on one that we don't even realise until too late that "hey! hold on ... this isn't what I had planned!".

So, I had a year-ful of work and then all of a sudden, it was time to travel! I tell you, no one can travel like a gardener can. Especially when it's a gardener who has her senses overloaded with plants and blooms that she'd kill to grow.

For all the tropical abundance in my own garden, I yearn to grow plants which are more suited to temperate climates. Which is why a walk in Zurich (or Munich... or Salzburg ... or ...)  can turn my face this way and that, trying to saturate my vision with all the gorgeous blooms on display. It was Spring when I reached there (peak of summer here in Mumbai, who would have guessed?!) and all the trees were bursting into bloom in delicate explosions of colour (but more about them later!). And, in the little and not-so-little florists shops all over the city, colours were running riot.
I loved it! And I went up to all the florists I could talk to and felt as if I had met a kindred soul in a foreign land. And we chatted about colours and textures and fragrances and all the delicious details that true flower-lovers and growers love to explore.
Ohhh, the sheer joy of it ...!
It was at Limmatquai in Zurich that I met Fritz Schneiter. Under the arches that shelter a host of trendy restaurants and shops, cutting a rainbow-swathe across the grey cobble-stones was a sea of colour; blooms of every hue possible. (So perfectly apt that this florist shop  is called 'Blueme under de Böge' ... Blooms under the Arches! )
And behind them, at his workstation was this very genial looking man quietly at work . He soon strolled over to see which blooms had caught my eye. And I told him, "all of them!". 
We got talking about my blogging and my garden in India and my tropical flowers and how much I'm in love with his flowers. And he handed me his card, smiled and told me, "mail me some pictures of your flowers".
I hope you will read this some day, Fritz. This one's for you!

And for you, my dear readers. I hope you enjoy the floral buffet  that I'm posting for you; tulips, roses, hydrangeas, irises, peonies, poppies ... don't you just love them all?!




Thank you, Fritz. I did enjoy our talk and the flowers . Here's to you!


There's something about the streets of Zurich that act as a catalyst. Those grey cobblestones and grey skies act as the perfect counterpoint for the floral displays pulling the eye from across the street, drawing one to go and take a closer look to see if those flowers are really as gorgeous as they look. And they invariably are!
I saw these plants displayed in a small lane across the road and I just had to go check them out. Such an interesting shop! I never did discover its name but I loved it for these gorgeous peonies. And the very aesthetic displays.



Can one sightsee a city through its shops? I know many who would quickly nod their heads in agreement. As for me, I loved discovering Zurich through its florists shops. Can't wait to go back and find all the others that I missed!

(p.s. This post had to be cut shorter than expected due to a malfunction in my good ol' trusty PC where I store all my photographs. I had intended to add one more  exquisite floral artist but that will now have to wait for another post. Until later ... :)  )