Vriksha nursery

Vriksha nursery is a second generation nursery based in Mumbai where we strive to change the face of urban gardening in India with over 25,000 gardens executed in Maharashtra/Goa/Gujarat. We have a team of dedicated professionals who will leave no stone unturned to give you gardens of the utmost quality. Vriksha nursery has been synonymous with innovation in our field be it set landscaping(over 15000 teleserials/movies/adfilms), temporary landscapes (over 2500 exhibitions and weddings),ikebana flower arrangements, urban farming, rooftop gardens,living walls etc.
contact us :9820704069 Email: shaan_lalwani@hotmail.com
or better still
Drop by at: 1 ganga apts ,
irla railway soc(2nd last bungalow lane opp papilon hotel )
mumbai 400056.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

How the Lunar Eclipse effected the plants at Vriksha.

           Plants like most humans are comprised of over 60% water or more ....and like everything else the eclipse has an effect profound influence on the behaviour of plants , though there isnt much research done on this we sat last night to observe some of our plants during the  total lunar eclipse .What we saw noticed was quite amazing.
    Vriksha Nursery in Mumbai is home to over 700 varieties of plants both exotic and native , and though we shut our gates for the public at 6 the plants completely come alive in the moonlight at this little oasis of green in the city. During the eclipse we decided to look around, look down at our plants and not up at the gorgeous blood moon. we decided to to observe some of the more tactile plants and see how they reacted .

1)  The Mimosa :- or the touch me nots were one of the 
plants we observed usually these plants when not interfered with would remain open through the night...just as we were approaching the eclipse around 12:50 the plants closed on their own...not 1 or two all 30 of them decided to close within 10-15 mins.

2) the marantas :- In response to darkness, the leaves of a prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) move from a horizontal position to a vertical position, similar to a pair of praying hands what was amazing to see was the beautiful purple backs of the leaves in full display . and though we only end up appreciating the bright colourful fronts of the leaves trough the day was quire amazing to see the appreciate the purple backs 

3) the oxalis : Shamrock leaves (Oxalis) assume a horizontal position in sunlight and droop down and closed during the night.  Iv seen plenty of timelapse videos showing how gorgeously these beauties moved and almost danced in accordance to the light and though you cant spot these with the naked eye 

4) Argyreia nervosa :- this gorgeous flowering climber is generally a hot spot for the night pollinators , the moths ,fruit flies , small butterflies ,  and though the crickets were extremely noisy, the toads were in full croak and the mosquitoes were out to feast the pollinators were surprisingly missing. 

5)the raat rani   plants are triggered to open their flowers in the evening to release fragrances that attract night-flying pollinators the raat ranis too were in full bloom last night the fragrance of these guys were stronger than usual, but with the pollinators missing in action we were the only ones enjoying its fragrance while sipping on our coffee and observing and listeing to the sights and sounds of Vriksha .

6) portulaca grandiflora :- While the blood moon was shining bright the office times that generally remain closed opened midnight Variations in the photochemical phases of solar light during lunar eclipse may be responsible for the observed depression in photosynthetic rates.

Final observations :- Though i didn't make enough notes to tell you why or what exactly is the reason for the plants to behave in this way during the lunar eclipse. Its quite certain that its one of the most exciting times to be at the nursery.  the eclypse has important consequences for plant growth and pruning: vigorous, sappy plants will suffer if cut, harvested, or pruned close to the full moon.Those who work with our herbs will sundelly notice a slight change in its fragrance or taste . Moonlight is subtle and has only a 15% effect on pant growth Most plants seem to need a rhythmic exposure to moonlight—at least for a week or so around the full moon—for optimal immunity, wound healing, regeneration, and growth and the lunar eclypse surely effects the same.

Friday, April 7, 2017

A Brief History Of Vriksha Nursery.

Over the last seven years we have put up daily updates on our Facebook page and documented the happenings at Vriksha Nursery. On our 37th birthday I'd  like to tell you guys about our roots.
Vriksha Nursery was established on 7th April 1979 by my dad Mr. Ashok Lalwani. On his very own Birthday, he quit his job as a waiter in the Oberoi and started working on plants in his backyard. His family mocked and laughed at him. They thought he had lost his mind for quitting his stable job and instead choosing to work in the mud. He hired 2 gardeners Marriappa (worked for us for almost 25 years) and Raju (still works for us).
     He started producing plants by cuttings and basic grafting techniques which he read about in second hand books that he purchased from raddiwalas. Within a few months he made a formidable stock of plants and became a go to wholesaler in Mumbai. His name became synonymous with plants like Lantana, Agloenoemas and Durantas. Soon the toil paid off and he landed a lucrative job for Thomas Cook India to landscape their head office. From there he never looked back.
    Dad started working on massive projects like when he planted large avenue trees outside the domestic airport and landscaped projects for Hindustan Lever to name a few. A couple of years later he married the love of his life in true filmy style. And the wheels of Vriksha kept moving.
    An unfortunate family incident got this momentum to a grinding halt. The contracts dried up so did
the money and as the couple got ready to welcome their first born the situation looked bleak. Thats when dad decided to do something different. He got on his Bajaj Chetak and rode from set to set in film city offering plants on hire and sometimes even delivering plants on that very bike. He would spend 14-15 hours a day working hard and he eventually made a name for himself in Bollywood. Things were looking up again and this ambitious young couple now with 2 kids decided to take the next step. They bought a small piece of land on the outskirts of Alibaug. But with all their savings invested in buying the land, developing it was a distant dream. They worked hard but somehow that dream never materialised.
   Now this is a part where my dad made a deal with the devil ! A family member offered to invest money and my dad would give him a chunk of the profit. The idea was to create 'India's first one stop garden mall'. Vriksha's then sister concern was born. Dad finally had the capital and he left no stone unturned. I once saw him carry 30 cans of paint from Mumbai on a bike all the way to Panvel, I've seen him sit in a truck and travel cause he dint want any confusion.
  When dad was busy with this project mom took over Vriksha. She learned Ikebana from the Sogetsu school and gave the nursery a whole new wing - Flowers. Vriksha provided ideas, jobs, plants, money, handwork and literally blood, sweat and tears. And one fateful day the bubble burst ! Forgery, deception and outright cheating ensued and everything that my father worked for went up in smoke. I saw my dad break down. (This Nursery still exists. won't name them ,won't shame them but Karma is a bitch)
Dad slipped into depression and it was heartbreaking to come home from school and watch your dad just hold you and sob. What he had built with his ideas and hard work was taken away from him (I, as a very young child though was secretly happy....i got to see him more !) Mom all this while slowly and steadily grew Vriksha. She made small changes making the business more sustainable. My mom used to read to us every night when putting us to bed, often my father would eavesdrop. I remember the night when she read a quote "Falling down doesn't make you a failure, not getting up does.What defines you is how well you rise after you fall."
   Something about this line struck a cord with dad and from the ashes like a phoenix he rose. The very next day he sat on this red bike he had and started meeting old friends, acquaintances and associates and soon enough something clicked. A local MLA who dad went to school with let him work on a small public garden in the area. Within 6 months dad was all over the place doing what he did best. He was working with all the major MPs, MLA, agencies like BMC, MHADA and was setting up public gardens across the length and breath of Mumbai that exist even today. At that time I was an 18 year old fresh out of JR college happy to drive him to his meetings. Somewhere on running his errands I realised this was all I wanted to do, Vriksha became my dream too.
   We lost him suddenly, way before his time. Financially things were tough again, Suddenly we had court cases, people harassing us to shut down Vriksha. Most people thought and hoped we would shut shop, sell the space and move abroad. But we weren't going to let his dream fizzle out so easily. They tried to bury us, little did they know we were seeds !!
   I moved back from the UK, started this very blog, typed every word on our Facebook page, work diligently and honestly and with each passing day we try our hardest to live up to the green legacy he left behind...And as I always say "We are only just getting started !!"
    Vriksha today has 65 workers. We manage more than 90 garden spaces in Mumbai. Have set up gardens all across India. Our blog has more than 1,00,0000 views and we have over 32,000 people on our Facebook page .

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The "Hippy" Horticulturist of mumbai .


       Lets start by telling you guys this is a slightly off topic post. A post about guys and girls from age 18-40 who all of a sudden have taken a very keen interest in horticulture. These people stop by #Vriksha in hilariously colourful outfits dreadlocks wearing funky glares and using terms like "Bro" "Groovy" they say goodby too in a funny way..."peace out" " Booom" "Jai Bholenath" .
 A few weeks ago i had a similar client i asked him why ....why do you guys only want to grow this 1 plant....why not tomatoes , why not chillis i showed him some of the magical plants we had at vriksha i showed him cactis ,succulents ... glow in the dark plants carnivores etc i showed him how good fresh herbs smell.....i served him a home grown salad....i spent an entire hour trying to get him all excited about the magical world of plants...he took him a herb basket , a tomato plant , a venus fly trap and soil for his seeds.

   "Jack" sold his cow to get his magic seeds. these guys buy them online....they get them from all sorts of places. These guys adore these seeds they keep them in boxes fancier than those the jewellers use for diamonds. They come asking for advice they speak about artificial lighting to grow plants when i tell them the lights are expensive they dont mind they say.... they want to sit and discuss soil Ph for hours . The right growing medium the right N.P,K required to grow their "Precious" seeds.
        An Average plant shopper that visits us has a few simple questions ... Name of the plant ,will it flower ,will it fruit , how much will it flower how much will it fruit, how much sunlight , how much water....when do we add manure etc etc.But these guys are different they aren't interested in the fruit the aren't interested in flowers all they want is the budd.


      Its the case of Dr Jekkle and Mr Hyde here the Dr is an expert gardener who checks soil moisture levels to keep the plant in good health...he fertilizes his plants expertly using only organic manure that he has got of flipkart. The other guy forgets to water his tomatoes for a week .

     Let me make one thing clear here ....I do not sell seeds nor do i sell plants of this special plant banned under " the NDPS act of 1985 . So dont call asking for it .
Spotted him at a local starbucks a few months later... he was extremely excited to see me...telling me his plant is doing well ...very well and offer me some of hi homegrown budd...i politely declined...i told him i was happy for him and asked how the others were doing...the spearmint the rosemary...has he cooked with them ? i was curious...i wanted to know did he harvest the tomatoes...did he show his friends the venus fly trap...he looked at me and said..." No brooo. They all dies in a week of taking them....i forgot to water them for a week cause i had my exams even my cactus died cause i dropped hot coffee in it one day and forgot and then ants came n ...BLAH BLAH BLAH. I dared to enquire further...how did your seeds survive...how did that plant do so well...a big bush of 5 ft (he showed me images on his cellphone) . oh those i wake up and water...then i water them in the evening again depending on the soil moisture and humidity levels that day.


          In this article i merely want to state a simple point....There are thousands of plants in nature each one more beautiful than the other...i know you love your high...but have you ever eaten a freshly plucked tomato...have made tea out of fresh cut leaves of a spearmint...have you ever seen a venus fly trap in action...its simply spellbinding. The world dosnt need more pot heads ....it dosnt need more engineers or more industrialists it desperately needs more horticulturist , it needs more naturalist . And i know this generation of people have it in them to be probably the best only if only they apply the same love to growing other plants as much as they do when they grow weed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Honey i cooked the Cactus & the Succulents!!!

      Our nursery is a testimony to our love for cactus and succulents we have one of the largest collections of them in mumbai....they work so well in creating tabletops landscapes and terrariums one of the most easiest plants to maintain iv come to fall in love with this family of plants....as a child one chapter of my favourite cartoon moments was when silvestre or the wolf in road runner or tom from tom and jerry smacked or landed on cacti....jevenile humour yes i know ...but i fell in love with the cacti the plant somehow came across as a symbol of karmic justice to me...hahahha....funny but true... So when i came across an episode of master chef australia where one of the mystreybox ingredients was "prickly pear" cactus i was beyond thrilled it opened up a whole new world of plants that i just had to eat!!! So lets dive down to the varieties of plants that you can eat and grow easily in mumbai :-
1) Prickly Pear :-
           Commonly called prickly pear, Opuntia ficus-indica is perhaps the most common edible succulent. The name refers to the juicy, reddish-purple fruit that develop atop the leaves in summer. While wholly edible, the fruit is filled with seeds that prove difficult to digest for many people. The flat, spiny pads of prickly pear are also edible and are widely eaten across Latin America as a vegetable called nopales. Both the fruit and pads of prickly pear must be cleaned of their spines before consumption and both can be eaten raw or cooked. However, the pads are more palatable when cooked since they have a slightly soapy taste when eaten raw.

2)Night-Blooming Cereus:-
     Night-blooming cereus is the common name for several species of epiphytic cacti within the genus Hylocereus You may commonly know these guys as Bhrama kamal. The plants bear fragrant, showy flowers during the summer months that later develop into edible fruit called pitaya, or dragon fruit. Each fruit is filled with creamy white flesh that has a subtly sweet flavor and scent. Many gardeners grow night-blooming cereus as an ornamental and most will never see a fruit develop, but you can greatly increase the likelihood of the plant developing a fruit if it is kept under warm, bright greenhouse-like conditions.
  3)Aloe Vera :-
        The clear, mucilaginous sap found inside the leaves of aloe vera plants is widely used as an herbal remedy for skin irritation and burns, but it is also edible and sometimes consumed as a drink to relieve digestive upset. Extracting the edible sap from aloe vera is simple and takes only a knife to cut the leaves lengthwise and a bowl to catch the sap as you squeeze it out. No special preparation is required before consuming aloe vera sap, but its thick texture and slightly bitter taste is unpleasant to many people and can be greatly improved by mixing it with an equal measure of filtered water. 

    To the indigenous people of the American Southwest, few plants are as versatile as the yucca. Species such as Spanish bayonet (Yucca baccata) and Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera) are of particular value since most parts of the plants are edible and can be eaten fresh or dried and stored for later use. The young flower stems, fruit and seeds all provide a palatable source of nutrition, and the leaves can be eaten steamed or lightly sauteed when still young and tender. It is best to avoid eating the older leaves and roots of yuccas since they contain a high concentration of saponins, which possess a soapy taste and can cause gastrointestinal upset if eaten in large quantities.

5) Dragon Fruit :- Yes that wildly cool look fruit thats taken the market by storm grows on a cactus,i could go on and on trying to describe the fruit to you but then again we all know what the beautiful dragon fruits taste like. They come in two types one with the red flesh and one with the white flesh .

6)All of the Sedum species (also called "stonecrops") are edible (. They are used in salads and are said to have a sour or peppery taste. Eat these sparingly; some can cause indigestion if eaten in large amounts. Purslane is my favorite of the edible succulents, being useful as ground cover in moist areas, easy to grow, and quite pretty -- not to mention extremely tasty when cooked. In the US, purslane is considered a weed, but it is excellent in stews and soups, as well as tasty fried and reasonably good in salads.

10 Plants we have at Vriksha that will make you fall in love with nature all over again !!

      #Mumbai has a host of Plant nurseries , Jhadwalas ....hawkers who sell plants when a 6 years back i came back from the Uk post my degree i questioned myself what do we need to do that sets the store apart...One of the 1st things that came to mind was ..." Have different plants" so over the years we hunted the length and breath of india and even abroad to get in some unbelievable plants...This is by no means my last article on this subject cause we are on a quest to keep adding new and different and plants that will make people come visit us from far and wide .

10) Sorrel :- A New addition to our plant list is an interesting  salad leaf a plant that looks like lettuces but tastes like  a kiwi fruit or a strawberry !!! The plants got quite a fan following at the nursery and urban farming enthusiasts , naturalist and foodies aloe have been smitten by this little guy

9) Heirloom Purple corn :-  We 1st displayed these seeds at an exhibition in my school and the reactions from parents and kids alike were couldn't believe that corn is purple . We  had several question like " How did u colour them" to "did you genetically modify them" and each time we had to explain how corn is not just the white and yellow genetically modified "bhutta"you see at your local vegetable vendor.

8) Stag horn ferns :- These were my favourite plants as a kid i remember my dad took me for a plant exhibition and i had stomped my legs rolled on the floor...and i think refused to eat till he go me this beautiful fern. This plant is quite unique it looks as the name suggest as the horns of a stag and what i find most amazing is how it creates its own pot with its leaves...you will find several of these beautiful ferns all over the nursery on trees on the walls or just hanging around .

7) Edible roses :- My wife finds it hilarious how i love rooafsaa (rose drink) that was the main reason for the hunt for the perfect edible rose i think....we found this rose with an amazing lady who has been growing roses for over 50 years After an interesting conversation about what she thinks about some of the new hybrid teas being mass produced in the market she took me to this guy..."the flavour and the smell is unequal" the taste ...oh the taste guys is so beautiful i actually ate 7-8 flowers on my way back to the nursery!!!!

6) The repellants :- mosquitoes , rats , pigeons , fleas , ticks ,bed bugs ...you name the pest and we have a natural repellant for the same . These came by when we noticed that the Bmc started an ill informed campain against house plants dissuading people to grow plants in their home!!! yes they actually ran adds , put up posters saying that house plants cause dengue !! On 1 hilarious morning we had a BMC we had a Bmc fumigation guys come and served us a notice cause they claimed that mosquitoes were breeding in one of our plants...The pitcher plants to be precise ...

5) The candle light Tree :- this one was left to me by my dad...i was 10 i think and i wondered wht this wierd drumstick like fruit was hanging from our bonsai...he sat me down and explained " this is called a candle tree...why candle tree cause the fruits look like candles and when the fruits dry they actually have natural wax in them that enables them to burn as wax candles !!!

p.s this plats als amazing cause they have flowers on their barks not in the foliage amongst the leaves make a very very beautiful bonsai.

4) The glow in the dark fern :- This beautiful fern we spotted on one of our treks up north where i saw amongst all the weeds this beaautiful blue fern no that dint survive the trip well but i went on a hunt for them and found them with one of my favourite nurserymen supprised to see it with her i asked her if she was selling them...she replied ya but that plant is something nobody buys ...i got 100 from her in the 1st go and since then iv sold more than 5000 of them in the last 3 years !!!!

3) The magic berry :- These little red berries like the names suggest are truly magical...also called miricle fruit when consumed will basically alter your taste buds into believing everything sour is sweet!!!

2) The lithops :- They are also called " The Living Stones "
Popularly called "Living Stones", Lithops are some of the world's most fascinating plants! Since their discovery by John Burchell in 1811 when "on picking up from the stony ground what was supposed a curiously shaped pebble, it proved to be a plant", Lithops have been avidly sought by the collector of succulent plants.

1) The #carnivorous plants :- The #Venus fly traps , The saracenia pitchers , The nepenthis all alavialbe in fully matured condition the joy of watching these guys eat mosquitoes fruit flies and othe rinsects in absolutely something else.