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Thursday, October 18, 2001

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Touch of green glamour


A walk down the sprawling stretch at Inscape Garden, appropriately situated next to J.K Foundation on Greenways Road, is a sheer treat for the eyes, mind and soul. The neatly laid out path is flanked on both sides by rows and rows of plants, hundreds of varieties, ranging from Rs. 30 to Rs. 6,000, mostly indoor and some outdoor. Dressed impressively in plastic and terracotta pots, in tiny cups and colourful bottles, in majestic brass containers or simple plastic bags, shopping for plants can be a pleasure here. ``We spent over Rs.15 lakhs to create enough space and the right ambience,'' say the owner- brothers of this green boutique, K.V.Venkatraman and K.V.Subramanian.

Started two years ago with the motto of `each house and office a plant', the brothers claim to have about 12,000 varieties of indoor plants.

``We want to inculcate among Chennaiites the habit of growing and gifting plants. You can have them on your work table, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and drawing room to cool yourself in this all- year round hot city,'' say the duo. And people's usual complaints about shortage of water, lack of space and affordability are unacceptable to them. ``When a dry place like Muscat can go green, why not Chennai,''asks Subramanian, a landscape architect for more than 20 years. Though based in Bangalore, he now spends three days in a week at Inscape Garden, which is otherwise tended by Venkatraman.

Besides retailing, they have an indoor plant scheme for corporate offices. It includes arranging and maintaining indoor plants. ``Most of the software companies at Tidel Park have taken up our scheme to make the work place lively, refreshing and relaxing for their stressed out staff,'' enthuses Venkatraman.

In fact, the take off point for this scheme was an article in a Bangalore daily, which said that according to a survey 78 per cent of those who are exposed to computers for more than six hours a day suffered from Computer Vision Syndrome. And the average age of those involved in the study was 24 years.

The duo has also been encouraging companies to gift plants, which come in convenient small cups, decanters and brass vessels. ``The polymer deco soil used in the decanters is a totally new concept in India,'' says Venkatraman. It's a polymer based non-toxic material manufactured by a company in Pune and comes in seven attractive colours. ``Besides, cocopit (coconut husk) that we mix in our usual soil preparation not only helps plants to grow faster, but retain the moisture. So, it is enough if you water once in three or four days''.

After having done major landscaping projects — Toyota Kirloskar in Bedadi, Bangalore, Titan Jewellery, Hosur, Dr. Reddy's Labs Ltd in Hyderabad, GRT Grand Days Hotel in Chennai etc., the brothers are now keen to develop green belts for companies in and around Chennai.

Inscape Garden is also planning to sell plants through supermarkets. "People don't have to go out of their way to buy them, instead can carry a bit of nature along with their monthly provisions,'' they quip.

CHITRA SWAMINATHAN

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