Horticultural Society Chennai – A garden from another time

horticultural society chennaiBefore I tell you about the horticultural society on Cathedral road, Chennai, I am going to give you some unnecessary history. I know nothing about gardening and I am not a great enthusiast either, but I can admire a nice garden. My dad is an avid gardener, spends a large part of his evening watering the plants and plucking jasmine flowers before heading to the clinic. Many mistake him for the gardener of the house (like in Thillumullu). He has been gardening since he was very young. His very first garden was in the open courtyard (dhallam) of our street-house in George Town. He’d lug horse manure from Everest Hotel on a cycle for his dear plants. Many sethjis would borrow my dad’s plants during festival time to decorate their shops. So one weekend when my husband suddenly decided that he wanted to have a mango tree in the garden (he has sudden cravings and he has to get it done somehow), we asked our in-house gardener – my dad for advice and he told us about the horticultural society.
We went there on a hot Sunday afternoon, you really don’t have much choice. They have very odd, extremely short working hours (sounds like a government setup) 10 am-12 pm and 2 pm – 4 pm or something along those lines. Tuesday is a holiday.

I am not sure if you can take pictures here, there was no sign that indicated as such but there was a board that said “No Cellphone”. Now this place is definitely government and definitely old. The horticultural society is on Cathedral road right opposite the new park, just a short distance from Gemini flyover. The horticultural society is massive. Sitting in the centre of the city, it is a sprawling place which has a wonderful old world charm to it (like those good old typewriters or rosewood writing desks). If you like the articles in Hindu Metroplus about olden days Madras, if you like Muthiah’s columns, you’ll like this place.
horticultural society chennai
The driveway curves around a lovely fountain leading to the portico and the office building very like the colonial bungalows. The gardens stretch out from behind the office building in all directions. I am not sure I saw the whole place. The gardens are not laid out in any particular fashion, there are saplings or potted plants kept all over the place amidst the society’s own rambling gardens. There are some really huge magnificent trees (don’t know what trees, I told you I can only admire) which must have been around for a century or more. Amidst this lush greenery are a few statues of Krishna or Ganesha (a style distinctly reminiscent of olden days, we had a Krishna statue in my grandparent’s house). They sell a large variety of flowering plants, tree saplings (includes the hybrid varieties that start bearing fruit very early), bonsai plants, creepers, seeds, gardening equipment, manure and tools and all at very, very reasonable rates. We bought quite a few mango saplings, bougainvillea plants, hibiscus, kanakambaram, jasmine, dogrose, those little pink/violet flowers that have no fragrance but look very beautiful in hanging pots or flower boxes and some gardening equipment.
horticultural society chennai
I am surprised it is not crowded. I suspect it’s the timing. Who would risk the heat to walk around a garden when you can so easily go to an air-conditioned mall, park your car for a few hundred bucks, climb the elevator (malls switch off elevators these days to save power) and fight for a table at the food court and then triumphantly eat at the table while those in line silently curse you and plonk their huge shopping bags on your foot.
horticultural society chennai
If you like old buildings, if you enjoy greenery, if you want to feel old Madras, go here. If you want a good bargain on your plants, go here, it’s a no-brainer.
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  1. molal says:

    madam,does Horticultural Society give help for Rejuvenation of beloved(sentimental)Coconut & Neem Trees,apart from help in controlling Weeds,so that one Grow Plants of their choice,by buying them there itself.

  2. Shyam Sridhar says:

    I am staying in Nanganallur. I have garden with flowers and fruits plants. Some are lucky enough to bear flowers while some are not. Some plants are there for years but not bearing a single flower. I need someone to inspect my garden, its soil and also the plants and guide which is suitable and which is not suitable. Can anyone guide me on whom to approach and how?

  3. Elango says:

    Only limited plants are available. I returned without getting plants to my choice. Later on went to private nurseries and got it. The HSC is not using properly the vast areas available in the heart of city.

  4. Ganapathyraman says:

    I had bought seeds at many places including here and though throw reasonably well I always found vegetables. Are Not tender at all.particularly brothel,preeclampsia,ladies finger.I have always wondered how traditional farmers manage to acheive it.hats off thro them.wish someone can explain the catch involved.

  5. Andrea Wilson says:

    I came across your official websites and being related to the field of Plant Genomics, hereby we would like to bring to your notice that we are organizing conference on 6th Edition of International Conference on Plant Genomics to be held during June 08-09, 2020 in Frankfurt Germany. It would be highly appreciable if the conference details to be listed in News and Events tab in your website.
    So as the information about this conference to reach the right members working in the field of Plant Genomics.

    Kindly guide me how to get the information about the conference to be listed and on the basis of cross promotional we would also like to add your organization details in our conference website as Collaborator/ Media partner to bring recognition to your organization as well amidst the members from the field of PLANT GENOMICS.

    For more details please have a glance: https://plantgenomics.euroscicon.com/

  6. Pushkala says:

    I was smiling throughout the read. Awesome writing about an awesome place. I will surely visit it. Do write a sequel about it…how the place is faring in 2020

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