Huge crowds throng flower show

February 22, 2020

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Visitors at the flower show on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
Visitors at the flower show on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: The 69th Pakistan Flower Show organised at the A.K. Khan Park (former Seaview Park) drew huge crowds on its second day on Friday.

According to the organisers, more than 500 plant varieties are on display this year, including seasonal, perennial and rare species, in the floral exhibits set up by the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC), whereas around 1,000 local and exotic species could be seen at the stalls arranged by specialised clubs and societies participating in the show and commercial nurseries.

Concluding on Sunday, the event is organised every year by the Horticultural Society of Pakistan (HSP) in collaboration with the DHA and the CBC.

“We have tried to increase the number of plant varieties this year. Besides, visitors would see some new stalls by organisations participating for the first time in the show,” said Salman A.K. Khan representing the HSP.

He, however, regretted that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) — once the leading institution in plant nurseries — had no presence in the HSP flower shows for a long time.

More than 500 plant varieties are on display this year

“I still remember that government nurseries located in the area of Garden, Saddar, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad and Malir, used to win several prizes in our show. This absence is a great loss,” Khan, said, explaining that state patronage was important to promote indigenous species and bring a change at the community level.

Exotic plants popular

As in previous years, many non-profit organisations, notably the Orchid Society of Pakistan, Cactus and Succulent Society of Pakistan, Pakistan Bonsai Society, Amateur Gardeners Club, Ladies Horticulture Society, Ikebana International-Karachi chapter, Ikenobo Study Group, World Flower Council-Pakistan chapter, Sojetsu Study Group, and Floral Art Society, have set up their stalls.

Asked about the sought-after plants at the show, representatives of commercial nurseries, who have been participating in the HSP flower show for a long time, said that it’s the exotic ones.

“Generally, people are looking for something new and many of them have no issues buying a well-grown imported bougainvillea costing between 15,000 to Rs20,000. The local version of the same species, however, is one of the cheapest indigenous plants,” said Rehman whose stall displayed local varieties in large numbers.

A number of stall owners Dawn spoke to said that though they received a good response in terms of visitors’ numbers, they didn’t make any profit as the space for stalls was pretty costly.

“I am here to promote my nursery that I have opened in the DHA,” said Saleem Akhtar Saleem, owner of a nursery stall displaying a number of bonsai plants, orchids and palm varieties.

One special plant on the stall was the desert rose grafted in way that it gave flowers in six different colours in the summer, he claimed.

A nursery exclusively dealing in exotic plants, especially tropical ones, had varieties from Hong Kong, China, the US, Thailand and Mexico. It also featured a relatively new species from Tanzania and a unique species resembling a stone from South Africa.

“It’s called Adenium sp. Nova Tanzania that we got from a place where its population was stable. The other (from South Africa) is called the living stone (Lithops), a succulent species,” said Majid manning the nursery, adding that the plant from Tanzania had adapted to local conditions and was easy to look after.

Space farming

For plant lovers, it may be of interest that the first Lithops was discovered by William John Burchell in 1811 during a botanical expedition in southern Africa.

It was intriguing to see a stall by Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) at the flower show. “We are here to create awareness especially among the youth of space farming. We are testing various plants including spinach, mustard and tomato, to see which species respond better in space atmosphere with the help of this equipment called clinostat, a 3D equipment which nullifies gravitational force. The equipment is only used at the time of seed germination,” explained a Suparco representative.

Other research/academic institutions, he said, should also get involved in this research which would then help them to suggest their tested plant species to the next space mission planned by China.

Unlike other stalls thronged by visitors, a stall manned by a honey-bee farmer attracted few visitors. “We are engaged in this business not to earn money but to keep alive the tradition started by our grandfather who had immense love for honeybees and started its farming in Thatta,” said Tahir Khalil Dogar.

According to him, the honey harvested from Ajwain (Bishop’s weed) flowers has great health benefits whereas clover honey is good taste-wise.

“We are offering one kg bottle of honey for Rs1,300 here. The same is priced at Rs1,500 at our outlet,” he said, adding that pure honey froze at low temperature.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020