Naresh Butail, Anand Foundation

Naresh Butail, Hobby Gardener

Mr. Naresh Butail has an experience of over 20 years in gardening. He at his prime maintained over 600 pots at his terrace in Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi. He loves
gardening and till today spends an hour maintaining his garden at Chandigarh. He has grown all sorts of plants bonsai trees,climbers,ornamentals,vegetables and even
fruit trees. The knowledge and experience he has in terrace is second to none. His contribution for this report is truly appreciated.

Having a terrace garden of over 600 plants is totally incredible. What is the behind you and gardening?
I used to study at DAV school in Shimla. There were a lot of plants grown at the school garden and one day i decided to get one for myself. I plucked one plant from its root and got it home. I didn’t know how plants grow so i just placed it in some mud i got from outside the house but eventually the plant died. It was then their that i had got an interest in gardening.

What is in gardening that attracts you?
I just love gardening at my place in Shimla people have orchards of Apple Trees. I have spent my childhood growing plants. I just enjoy gardening.

What were your first terrace gardening experiences?
Terrace gardening for me started with a lot of back breaking work. I had to get the right pots for my plants and soil to fill in them. Back in those days there were much in home delivery so I had to myself get the stuff to my terrace. I used to load 70kgs of soil bags at my head and then head towards my terrace. It took my around a year only to get all the stuff at my terrace. Then i guess there is no nursery left which I haven’t visited to buy plants.

Since there so many pots out there in your terrace how do you manage?
I initially had a gardener to water and maintain my plants for 6 months but I could not afford his fee. Since then I have taken the work on my own-self I though get help from my wife Manju and maid.

What all plants can you suggest that can be grown at the terrace?
Many plants can be grown at the terrace. It depends on your taste. Like for me I enjoy growing vegetables along with flowers. I love growing flowers though I prefer English Roses, Guldavri, Cactus, Dahlias.

What can be the cost of maintaining a terrace garden?
I spend annually about 20 thousand rupees on plants and their care. I have to get fertilizers and pesticides. And also I need to change to pots every six months as a lot of them get weathered off. Sometimes I even have to repot the paneeris.

Where do you shop for garden supplies?
I always go to Indira market (roshanara road). It is wholesale gardening market.

How much on an average you spend everyday taking care of your terrace garden?
Everyday i spend about 20 minutes on my terrace. In the evening I go water the plants,Get a few harvest from the vegetable plants,see if any plant needs special care. On Saturdays and Sundays I spend about an hour on the terrace picking out the weeds,pruning the branches and looking after other things.

Do you spot any birds at your garden?
Yes a lot of them. Their parrots at my garden most of the time. There are small birds which get attracted by flowers. Their koyal birds around my cheeku tree.
Pigeons and crows are also very common. The pigeons also a couple of time have laid eggs near the pots creating a mess. Also a lot of times the birds attract cats which to hunt them and thus also results in damage of my garden plants.

As you said that a lot of time your plants get damaged. What do you do to help them?
Nothing. I used make plant cages initially but there were times during summers that a lot of monkeys used to come they used destroy almost any plant which came in their way. I had spent a lot of money protecting them but later I realized you can actually do nothing because you can’t really stop animals like cats and monkeys from entering your terrace garden it’s impossible to do that.

What according to you is the best season to start with terrace gardening?
Just after the monsoon people can start with buying plants and planting on the terrace. The winter season for me is the best season to do gardening as a lot of flowers can be grown during that season also vegetables plants such as tomato,cabbage, cauliflower, coriander,methi, beans, spinach can be grown.

How can one establish a terrace garden? And what will it take to sustain it?
Well in my time I had to do everything to establish my garden but now a days there are so many options. There are nursery which offer a complete terrace garden package and that too at reasonable prices and also one can buy pots of their choices such as the plastic pots which can easily moved to the terrace and are long lasting.

Thus if you have money hand you can set up a garden within days. And you need love for plants and dedication to sustain your garden. You can plant as many plants as you want but if you will not take care of them they will die soon. So if anyone who loves growing plants and is dedicated then only he/she should go for terrace gardening.