You can enjoy the 2021 virtual Ooty flower show from anywhere in the world

A drone shot at the Government Botanical Garden in Udhagamandalam captures the sprawling expanse of greenery, where 2,500 flower pots have been arranged to read: “COVID-19 Vaccinate Yourself”.

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This visual treat, part of the 124th edition of the annual flower show, is available as a virtual tour on YouTube. The tour takes one through the timeless calla lillies, liliums, dahlias, salvias, and marigolds that grow in this 55-acre garden set up in 1848.

“We have arranged a gallery of 25,000 potted plants, belonging to 259 varieties, including exotic flowers like sapanarias, ranunculus, dianthus, petunias, statice and over 10 varieties of marigolds and others,” says Shiva Subramaniam Samraj, Joint Director, Department of Horticulture in the Nilgiris.

The Horticulture Department started preparing the garden for the annual show in October last year. “We purchased seeds from dealers who import them from Japan, Canada and other European countries. We had planted five lakh seedlings at the garden around January, nurtured them, and ensured that the plants were in full bloom.”

However, because of the pandemic the physical show had to be cancelled. “It was only the second time in the history of the botanical garden where we had to call off the flower show. The first time was about two decades ago due to a public strike regarding a crisis in the tea industry. A virtual platform would help people across the globe view the blooms,” says Samraj.

Exotic flowers are a big draw at the floral gallery, especially the trumpet-shaped flowers that resemble an upturned bell in a range of colours from deep burgundy to lemon yellow and bright oranges. “Those are the calla lilies,” says M Radhakrishnan, Assistant Director of Horticulture Department. “They stay fresh for 40 days. Some of the other specials include purple limoniums and orange and pink gerberas, both tissue culture plants sourced from Pune. The annual flower show attracts visitors with a line up of tulips, hyacinths, and liatris as well as the native blooms.”

As many as two lakh people witness the flower show annually; the event draws tourists from across the country as well as abroad. Says Samraj, “It drives the economy of the Nilgiris. A tour of the Nilgiris is incomplete without a stop at the historic botanical garden.”

For a virtual tour, visit https://youtu.be/lS4FOVzwgJo

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