City Season – Spring Bloom of Two Bougainvillea Trees, Lodhi Garden
The gift of a brief season.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s like a valley of flowers, pink flowers The Delhi Walla means. And it is the most amazing sight in Delhi at this season.
The two bougainvillea trees in central Delhi’s Lodhi Garden never disappoint at this time of the year. After Holi, when the winter cold is just a memory and the summer’s heat is yet to hound us in its full wrath, these two trees dress up themselves in a most fanciful bloom that has to be seen to be believed. (I wrote on them last year, too, here.)
The trees are situated close to the duck pond. From a distance, they appear like friendly giants dressed in pink. Go close, and they transform into a song-and-dance set of some kitschy Hindi film.
Stand underneath either of the trees — they are next to each other — and you are transported into an unreal world most suitable perhaps to the staging of Shakespeare’s comedies (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream).
And can someone tell me how to avoid the poor flowers from being crushed under our shoes? The ground is covered with the fallen petals of bougainvillea and they continue to fall silently, like the snowfall. The branches weigh so heavily with bougainvilleas that you fear they may collapse any moment.
While the flowers look extraordinary, their beauty is illusionary. If you touch them, they feel as dead as paper. If you smell them, you smell nothing. Bougainvilleas seem to have nothing but the colour.
One of the trees has a bench underneath. Bring a novel or a poetry anthology and sit on this bench for hours. It will be the perfect escape from the drudge of daily life.
To be sure, bougainvilleas spring up all across Delhi these days. Indeed, Delhi’s brute heat and bad air is most suited for these flowers, which grow best if the air is warmer and smoggier, according to BC Katiyar, emeritus-president of the Bougainvillea Society of India.
Talking on phone, he told me that while bougainvilleas give flowers throughout the year, the maximum bloom comes out twice a year — before and after the winter. The flowering following the winter is especially lush. “Bougainvilleas are wildish plants that don’t flower well if you look after them too lovingly like by watering them regularly,” said Mr Katiyar. “Abandon them and then they bloom beautifully.”
In other words, they are the perfect Delhi flowers.
Some of the best Bougainvillea sights I have seen are at Chelmsford Road near New Delhi railway station and in the diplomatic enclave of Shantipath — try to check out the pavements around the Italian embassy. A bungalow in Nizamuddin East is also a sight to watch as pink and blue bougainvilleas invade its front.
The most heavenly sight of bougainvilleas, however, in the city is these two trees of Lodhi Garden. They help us boost our spirits lying low in anticipation of the incoming summer. These two trees in bloom also magically stir our indifferent feelings towards this hard city. They must not be missed.
The best trees in the world