Exploring botanical gardens in other countries is always enjoyable for garden designers and during my trip to India, primarily to watch cricket, I had the chance to visit the Visakhapatnam Botanical Garden. Sadly I had time due to England losing the cricket within four days!

Visakhapatnam

Dr. M. Rama Murty and his student were surprised to have an influx of English tourists but were nonetheless very welcoming and gave my husband and I a guided tour. Vizag is a coastal city to the east of India and as such has a fairly mild climate with humidity from the Bay of Bengal. It is backed by mountains, typical of so many coastal climates which contain the heat within the city and of course like most Indian cities it is a bustling and slightly chaotic but wonderful metropolis.

Medicinal & Culinary Plants

So to the plants; there was a wide range of medicinal plants, many of which I recognised and cook with. It was great to see the curry leaf plant growing, I was offered a cutting but of course had to refuse, importing plants without appropriate documentation renders it impossible. I’d like to get seeds for the curry leaf plant as fresh leaves are often called for in recipes. Many dried herbs can be just as good but to grow my own would be great.

Curry leaf plant

We were prompted to taste various leaves on our tour which was interesting, nothing crazy to report but interesting to have fresh versions of plants I only know in their dried form. Star fruit needs no explanation but again was interesting to see growing on a tree, I’d forgotten how bitter they are.

 

Star fruit

The calabash tree was an interesting plant which I can only describe as massive olives hanging from its branches.  I’ve since read that the fruit are dried out and used to make utensils such as cups, bowls, and basins in rural areas of the Caribbean.

Calabash tree

Houseplants

Further on we came across plants that I only know as houseplants yet here they were growing outside. My favourite being the fiddle leaf fig which I got myself last autumn. Mine is growing exceedingly slowly but seems healthy enough.

 

Fiddle leaf fig

Then the zigzag or fish scale plant. I got one last year and it’s, having seen it in its native habitat scrambling up a tall tree was fascinating. I’ll never be able to recreate those conditions but it does help me to understand it’s needs better.

 

Greenhouse plants

Their greenhouses were another source of wonderment. In one they were experimenting with air plants which looked great dangling from the roof and all along one end they had a display of plants showing how they grow together in the wild.

Greenhouse display

A further hothouse held succulents, again I have an Haworthia, on my desk so great to see them being propagated. Kalinchoe is a colourful succulent which I actually have growing on my terrace, whilst I’m never quite sure if I like it, I have a new fondness for it now I associate it with India.

Hothouse 1
Hothouse 2

Exotics, but not as we know them

Finally the last part was reserved for exotics, what would we find here I asked myself, the answer was conifers!

They were very proud to have Yews, Junipers and Cypresses. What is exotic to them are common garden plants to me designing gardens in Yorkshire.

Exotics, but not as we know them

Finally the last part was reserved for exotics, what would we find here I asked myself, the answer was conifers!

They were very proud to have Yews, Junipers and Cypresses. What is exotic to them are common garden plants to me designing gardens in Yorkshire.

 I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Visakhapatnam Botanical Garden and India as a whole. I hope to return and explore another garden full of interesting plants. Just a shame the cricket didn’t bring a better set of results for England, oh well another reason to return!

Read about other botanical gardens around the world, Sarah visited Rome and our occasional blogger Kate visited VanDusen, Vancouver.

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The Biodiversity Park was established in March 2001 and is a testament to the dedication of the Dolphin Nature Conservation Society and in particular Dr M. Rama Murty. The DNCS has been fervently working towards nurturing a love for nature and conservation, particularly among the younger generation.

https://www.facebook.com/DNCS.India/