The garden needs sprucing up. It’s very boring. When I suggested planting to the landlord when we collected the keys he was delighted someone was going to make his garden pretty. He is envious of garden near the admin building- it’s full of flowers.
There are no garden centres to speak of here. Garden furniture is sold in furniture shops at astronomical prices – really – £700 for two plastic chairs and a coffee table! I laughed out loud and told them it would be a fraction of the price in the UK. The salesman looked at me bewildered. Anyway, I digress.
Lots of things can be bought at the roadside here, including plants. The range and diversity is however somewhat limited. Naraya (our temp driver -for the last 2 months!) took me to a local roadside chap to buy plants for a border at the front of the garden. He had a reasonable sized stock but limited range. I bought about six rose bushes, 3 taller purple plants, a chilli plant and a herb. Yes, you will no doubt have realised that I have no idea what some of these are but as they look and smell nice and are not poisonous, who cares.
It was at this point that Naraya stepped in and started negotiating the price. Naraya was clearly convinced I was being substantially over charged and had a long discussion were “Madam” was mentioned. They eventually, and somewhat reluctantly in Naraya’s case, agreed on a price of INR 1050 (£10.50). I had to contain my astonishment, I couldn’t believe it was so cheap. I quickly paid whilst they loaded up the car.
When we returned to the house Saroja (our new housekeeper) was waiting for us. She and Naraya had a quick discussion. As Saroja speaks English she was able to translate saying that Naraya thought I was still overcharged and he wanted to take me to a proper and cheaper nursery another day, and explained where it was. Quite a trek and near the airport – but everywhere is a trek here so it was just in a different direction.
Yesterday we set off. It was quite a trek. Past Zahra’s school and into the countryside, off roading down muddy tracks, truly in the middle of farm land to a 6 foot tall blue gate. We drove in. I’m looking for something resembling a uk nursery (not a garden centre obviously) but what I got was like a flipping plantation! It was massive. Where do you start when something is so huge? There is also a risk of getting lost it was so vast. The size and scale of some of the plants they were growing and selling was something else too. It was wonderful to walk around. We looked at three main sections and didn’t look at the tree stock at all.
I was being directed towards the larger plants but I knew what I wanted. Every time I asked about price Naraya would step in and have a long discussion and a price would eventually be agreed upon. I merely stood and watched until a final price was agreed. I chose plants from two sections, roses from one and a selection of orchids, gerberas, ornamental strawberries and geraniums from the other. The latter section proved interesting to buy from. There was clearly some reluctance and I kept being told the plants were too small. Eventually Naraya and my determination paid off and we purchased the plants. It transpired they were being grown for the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens so I was purchasing some of their stock!
The total cost for 32 plants came to INR 2,100 (£21). It was indeed cheaper than the local guy and the choice was vast. They loaded up the car and headed off. There’s a lot of planting to be done by our new gardener.