I have started this Blog to pay my respect and salute Dr JS Sarkaria, the founder of the Cactus Garden, who worked with extraordinary diligence and with exceptional love for these much despised plants (I think, only by we Indians, no offence, please). Whenever, I visit the garden, I do think of Dr Sarkaria, I wish I had met him when he was around. He left for heavenly abode a couple of years ago. (I will be posting about him soon, with permission from his family). He deserves a great place in the history books of the city, as he has given a unique landmark to the city.
I live at Panchkula (Haryana, India) and consider myself as very lucky to be living near its famous Cactus Garden, sadly not very well known amongst the denizens of this modern city, as it should have been. In fact, this garden is unique and special for India. Thanks to all the stupid superstitions, which had some reason to come into practice, people do NOT grow any kind of cactus or succulent at home. Most Indians believe that its not a good omen to grow cactus at home. I agree with a logic for not growing cactus at home, where there is small space and kids are around, its being a safety concern. Lest they get hurt by the steely strong thorns of cactus, if it is grown at home. But some stupid brains have added superstition `since cactus grows in a deserted and arid place, it brings unhappiness like desert in the house and the family’. How silly is that! On the contrary, cactus gives me immense inspiration – it grows in harshest conditions, needs no extra care, still smiles with flowers, fights hard life all alone (sort of alone, otherwise ecosystem does support them to live). In fact, cacti and succulents are great plants to grow for decoration, need far lesser space (not much of spread) and extremely scanty water supply. If you are away for a holiday, most of the cactus varieties can survive for a month without water.
A few years ago, when I visited the Cactus Garden for the first time, as a local tourist, I had finished my visit in less than 15 minutes. But soon after I met Mr K Koshy, IPS, who was posted in the city as DGP Vigilance, an avid birdwatcher, we started pursuing photography as beginners. I realised that Cactus Garden is a great asset to us to explore locally with our cameras, a treasure trove. Eversince, I have fallen in love with the Cactus Garden. Now, I wish to learn about cactus in detail, its names, technicalities involved in its gardening and care. I visit Cactus Garden often nowadays, its staff headed by Mr Sushil Kumar, the supervisor of the garden, extend me superb support, in fact to anyone who who shows interest in the Garden and cactus. Sushil really supervises the Garden with personal touch and care, if there is someone who is attached to the garden now, its he, I think so. Hard to believe how he survives in a government set up. Must be a tight rope walk for him!
During my last three four visits to the Garden, I have been viewing only these tiny flowers (not more than 5mm wide) through my macro lens, which grow in bunch. This cactus bush is thronged by the bees and the work starts with daybreak itself and that’s why the phrase `busy like bee’. I find this place teeming with small insect life also, sometimes I get to see insects moving on flowers only through the lens, otherwise too small to get noticed. Its always very satisfying.
You will see some nice photos of cactus flowers here, often. I hope you will enjoy and start looking at cactus differently, also hoping locals will change their superstition towards cactus.