This comprehensive and highly informative book, profusely illustrated and simply written is a ‘package tour’ for the layman around the world of flowers with special reference to India. Flowers commonly grown in gardens in different parts of India and their methods of cultivation are described. A handy guide for all those who grow flowers for business or pleasure.
The author, Dr. Vishnu Swamp, was formerly the Senior Geneticist (Floriculture) and the Project Coordinator (Vegetable Crops) in the Division of Vegetable Crops and Floriculture, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi A man with wide experience in the growing and breeding of ornamental plants, he is a member of the Floriculture Committee of the International Society of Horticultural Science, and many similar organisations. He has published several articles and books on various aspects of gardening.
In this book an endeavour has been made to describe the various kinds of flowers commonly grown in gardens in India. The aim is to acquaint the flower growers, particularly the amateur gardeners, with the different kinds of garden flowers, their uses in gardens and their methods of cultivation. The popular as well as Latin names of each flower, the botanical family to which it belongs and the place of its origin have also been mentioned. A few chapters in the beginning deal with the aesthetic and economic importance of flowers, the various kinds of flowers grown in gardens, a short history of flowers and of gardening in India and the important flowers that are natives of our country. A brief account of the various cultural practices adopted for growing the herbaceous or non-woody plants as well as of the important diseases and insect pests attacking them and the measures to control them is also presented.
Of the six kinds of flowers commonly seen in the gardens, such as trees, shrubs, climbers, herbaceous annuals, biennials and perennials, bulbous flowers and water plants, the former three have not been described in this book, as some very good books on them are already available. These include Beautiful Trees and Gardens (I.C.A.R., New Delhi) and Flowering Trees (National Book Trust, New Delhi) by Dr. M.S. Randhawa, Sonic Beautiful Indian Climbers and Shrubs by N.L. Bor and MB. Raizada (Bombay Natural History Society), The Beautiful Climbers of India and The Rose in India (I.C.A.R., New Delhi) by Dr. B.P. Pal and The Bougainvillea by Dr. B.P. Pal and Vishnu Swarup. Another book on shrubs by Dr. B.P. Pal and Dr. S. Krishnamurty has been brought out by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. However, a few very popular shrubs, such as bougainvillea, jasmines, azalea, camellia, geranium and fuchsia have been described in this book. Azalea, camellia, geranium and fuchsia are commonly found in gardens in the hills, while bougainvillea and jasmines are well known in the plains. The jasmines are natives of our country.
I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. M.S. Swaminathan the former Director-General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and Dr. B.P. Pal, under whose advice and guidance I ventured to undertake this assignment. I am grateful to Dr. S.K. Mukherjee and Dr. A.B. Joshi, for their valuable help and encouragement in the preparation of this book. My thanks are also due to Shri R. Rajendran for his keen interest and patience in taking photographs for this book.
Flowers are symbolic of beauty, love and tranquillity. They form the soul of a garden and convey the message of Nature to man. In our country, flowers are sanctified and are commonly used in worship in homes and temples. We are intimately associated with flowers and on all festive occasions and in marriages and religious ceremonies and social functions, the use of flowers and garlands has become almost essential. Flowers also adorn the hair of women, particularly in South India.
Besides their aesthetic value, flowers are also important for their economic uses, such as, for cut blooms and for extraction of perfumes and other products. An earlier survey made by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research has revealed that about 10,500 tons of cut flowers worth Rs. 9.26 crores are sold annually in the markets of metropolitan cities like Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Bangalore and Delhi. It is estimated that about 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres) are under cultivation as flowers for commercial purposes. However, in recent years both area and production of flowers have increased substantially but precise estimates Ire not available. Marigold, jasmine, rose, crossandra and small-flowered chrysanthemum are commonly used for cut (lowers, particularly in South India. The trade in perfumes has already been established and some flowers like the rose and jasmine are commonly used for extraction of perfume. The perfume industry flourished during the Mughal days. In India the fragrance of flowers is much prized and there are many connoisseurs of perfumes. Besides, the seed and nursery business is also important and it is a source of livelihood to many. It may be mentioned that there is also export of ornamental plants, seeds and bulbs every year. From a small town like Kalimpong (West Bengal) which is an important centre for ornamental plants, it is reported that flower seeds, particularly of the wild flowers of the Himalayas, bulbs, orchids, ferns, etc., worth about Rs. 400,000 are exported to foreign countries annually. In recent years, floricultural products (seeds, bulbs, plants and cut flowers) have been exported from India. The total value of exports of floricultural material though not very significant in the export market was Rs. 24.28 lakhs in 1976-77, Rs. 75.50 lakhs in 1977-78, Rs. 80-85 lakhs in 1978-79 and Rs. 56.22 lakhs in 1979-80. These exports included about 38% cut flowers, 37% foliage plants, 11% flowering plants and 14% others.
In the garden generally the flowering plants are of two main types, namely, herbaceous and semi-woody or woody. The herbaceous flowers are annuals, biennials or perennials, while the semi-woody and woody are usually perennials. An annual plant grows from fresh seeds sown each season, flowers, sets seeds and dies within a year. The biennial plant completes its life cycle in about two seasons or years. The perennials when once sown or planted continue to live and flower in successive seasons for a number of years. Most of the flowers of the winter or rainy season are herbaceous annuals, such as antirrhinum, aster, balsam, petunia, phlox, dianthus, sweet pea, calendula, verbena, marigold, zinnia, etc., while a few like campanula (bellflower), sweet william and some others are herbaceous biennials. Among the herbaceous perennials, delphinium, lupins, gaillardia, michaelmus daisy, shasta daisy, etc., are popular. Rose, chrysanthemum, bougainvillaea, azaelea, geranium, fuchsia, camellia, jasmines, etc., are woody or semi-woody perennials. Flowering trees and shrubs are important woody perennials grown in the garden. Besides, some plants form bulbs, tubers or corms from which they are generally propagated. They are popularly known as bulbous flowers and include such flowers as amaryllis dahlia, gladiolus, narcissus, daffodil, tulip, etc.
There are also some aquatic plants grown for their attractive flowers, such as the lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) and the water-lily (Nymphaea sp.).
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