[By Mayank Austen Soofi. This article originally appeared in the Outlook magazine]
Here's a secret too delicious to keep locked between the teeth and the lips. Adjacent to Humayun Tomb bloom fragrant roses, curvaceous tulips, and snow white dahlias - all available at bargain basement prices. This is Sunder Nursery, India's largest government nursery. Twelve Poppy sticks can be plucked for a mere Rs. 36, whereas the florist at nearby Khan Market sells a single, day-old Poppy at Rs. 30. More importantly, the rates remain constant, Valentine's Day or not.
Spread across 67 acres, Sunder Nursery however attracts only about thirty visitors a day. "People don't know flowers are inexpensive here," observed Ms. Ram Pyari, a gardener for the past twenty years. In February, daily sales were Rs. 2500 even as the Khan Market florist made more than twice during the same period.
"Prices outside are horrendously high," concurred Mrs. Jeet Seth, a regular visitor. "But I love this place chiefly for its space, ambiance, and tombs." These are not the only temptations. "What joy it is to pick colours of your choice while arranging a bouquet in the mind," added Mrs. Seth. "Sunder Nursery is indeed a paradise. Buying flowers here is a rewarding experience." Shhh, it's a secret.
The Nursery Scenes - space, ambiance, and tombs
The Nursery Scenes - Ms. Ram Pyari, a gardener for the past twenty years
The Nursery Scenes - Mrs. Jeet Seth, a regular visitor
The Nursery Scenes - Officials of the Orchard
The Nursery Scenes - The Grass Cutters