MAIN STORY: Winter is a dry season bereft of any signs of life on earth. It is a time when cold wind blow over the parched landscape. And then the snow will come.
In the midst of the cold season, flowers of various kinds and colours greet the streets and homes in Thimphu giving one much needed warmth and comfort in our hearts.
As the days get shorter and gardens begin to wind down, we say farewell to the kaleidoscope of colours when each bloom tries to out do the other during spring and summer season.
But there are still plenty of winter flowers that fill the gaps left by the fading perennials. These tough winter flowering bulbs are happy to brave the cold and bring a welcome splash of colours to brighten the darkest days of the year.
In Motithang, surrounded by bright and cheery winter flowers at the Utty Nursery is Jyotshna Gurung. She is busy taking care of these pleasant winter flowers, which never fail to surprise her customers because of their sheer beauty and colours.
There are blooming Primula, Primrose, Azalea, Cyclamen, Stock, Petunia, Rose, Bellflower, Alstroemeria, Petunia and Snap Dragon, among others.
Winter can be a beautiful season and winter gardens can be as beautiful as spring and summer gardens, Jyotshna Gurung said. “A causal observer may find little interest in the winter garden but, for those who look closer, there is much to appreciate and many wonders to admire.”
Winter gardens are not like spring gardens when all the buds explode into colours, nor is it like the summer gardens when there are flowers in every corner. Winter is slower and gentler, thus gifting us with such exquisite blooms, Jyotshna Gurung said. “The winter is full of magical surprises and fragrances filling one’s heart to the brim.”
For those interested in planting winter flowers, Jyotshna advice is to keep the flowers in a less ventilated green house to prevent the cold air and frost from killing these plants. One must water them only in the morning to prevent the mud from freezing.
“This is the time when afew autumn flowers also burst into colours because the bulbs were planted late. The flowering depends on the timing of the planting,” she said.
Moving further down, at the Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM), Gyem Dem, 54, makes her income selling winter flowers at this time of the year.
As you step into the green house located at the CFM, you are greeted with flowering Cineraria, Cyclamen, Camellia, Chrysanthemum, small Daisies and other beautiful indoor evergreen plants.
Customers who come for their weekly vegetable shopping makes a point to visit her flower shop and lands up buying either a winter flower or flowering pots, among other.
“Sale is slow at this time of the year. Still many people are amazed at the winter plants because a lot have the perception that in winter all flower wither and die, Gyem Dem said. “Many customers ask me for tips to care for winter plants and how they can lengthen the flowering time.”
Gyem Dem’s business boomed during His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s 60th birth anniversary celebrations when hundred of winter flowers were purchased from her shop. Most of these flowers are decorated throughout the city and at the offices that are dotted with white, red, pink, orange and purple winter flowers.
During the preparation of the celebration, Gyem Dem earned more than Nu 15,000 selling these winter flowers.
Like Jyotshna, Gyem also advises flower enthusiast to take extra care of the flowers during the cold weather.
The price of the winter blooms start from Nu 150 to Nu 2,300 depending on the type of flowers and their colour.
The sale of flowers is said to have increased today compared to a decade ago. “Now people don’t mind spending on flowers because of its aesthetic values, and the various types of flowers available today,” she said.
Jigme Wangmo, an employee of Home and Garden Décor, a branch of one of the oldest nurseries in the capital, Gaa-Yuel Garden, said there are people everyday visiting the shop.
“I can’t say whether people are interested in summer or winter flowers because there are customers the year round,” she said. “Despite various reasons for buying the flowers, people don’t seem to have special reverence for winter blooms.”
Jigme Wangmo said customers buy flowers for different purposes. Some buy to gift them to someone they love while others buy to give an uplifting look to their homes in the cold season.
A flower enthusiast, Pema, 47, have different types of flowers, all set in the balcony of her apartment. She treats them like her children and takes extra care of them every day.
“The best way to take care of the winter flowers is to pamper them the year round,” she said.
7 Our top picks of winter
Alstroemeria, commonly known as Peruvian Lily or Parrot Lily is a South American genus comprising of more than 50 species of flowering plants. The flower is named after a Swedish Baron Claus von Alstroemer, who collected seeds of the plant during a visit to South America in the 18th century. Alstroemeria stops flowering if the weather gets too hot.
Azalea is a popular flowering shrub species in the rhododendron family. They are native to several continents including Asia, Europe and North America. Known as ‘the royalty of the garden’ they have long been adored for their brightly colored flowers and outstanding form and foliage.
Chrysanthemum comes from a Greek word ‘chrys’ meaning golden (the color of the original flowers) and ‘anthemon’, meaning flower. Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish naturalist, who is also known as the father of modern taxonomy, gave its name. The flower symbolizes fidelity, optimism, joy and long life.
Petunia is an ornamental plant with a showy flower, which attract insects and birds. There are 35 species in the Petunia genus and they are from the family Solanceae, which includes tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. They can be grown in the garden or in pots, and prefer sunny conditions, and to keep them flowering, dead flowers should be removed regularly.
Made for the shade, Cineraria add intense color to dark corners of the garden.
Cineraria grow to two feet high and wide with daisies ranging in color from white through pink and purplish red to blue and purple. Plants need partial or full shade along with regular water and loose, rich soil.
Primrose and Primula
Primrose and Primula is a type of herbaceous plant that belongs to the same family primulaceae. It originates from Europe. It grows on the moist, but well-drained soil, in partial shade. Primrose is often cultivated in pots or gardens in decorative purposes.
By Thinley Zangmo