Sunday, November 12, 2017

New book on step-by-step guide to grow roses the right way

If there's one practice that Kalyan-based gynaecologist Dr Vikas Mhaskar ardently follows, it's talking to the roses in his sprawling garden each morning.  It was 15 years ago that the 68-year-old surgeon bought a piece of land - spread over an acre - in Saralgaon, 85 km from Mumbai, converted it into a rose garden and called it Babanchi Baug, after his late father Dr Gopalrao Mhaskar. "I picked up the habit from my father, who had around 90 varieties of roses in our terrace garden. There's evidence to prove that plants respond to sound," he tells us.

Dr Vikas Mhaskar has over 650 varieties of roses at his garden in Saralgaon, Kalyan
Dr Vikas Mhaskar has over 650 varieties of roses at his garden in Saralgaon, Kalyan

Mhaskar, who owns the largest collection of roses for non-commercial purpose in Maharashtra, is now chronicling his decades-long effort as a rose-lover and horticulturist in a coffee table book titled Domestic Rose Growing - The Organic Way (Blue Rose Publishing). The book is his attempt to share his knowledge about the flower, bust myths around its cultivation and encourage people to grow plants the organic way.  

The idea to write the book emerged from visitors, who would drop by at his garden, which draws over hundred people during weekends. "They would tell me that spending time with roses helps them relax. Many went back and decided to grow plants in their homes. Unfortunately, the plants would die within two weeks, and this would discourage them," he says. This made Mhaskar wonder where they were going wrong. The fault, he soon realised, was the lack of knowledge when it came to growing roses.

The Double Delight rose is known to have the most attractive colour combination
The Double Delight rose is known to have the most attractive colour combination

"People would overwater the roses, and sometimes the plants wouldn't get adequate sunlight. Ideally, six to eight hours of sunlight is necessary," he says. In order to help rose growers, he first created a WhatsApp group, where discussions revolve only around roses. "Somehow, I felt it wasn't enough.  The best way then would be to write a book so that I could reach out to a wider audience," he says.

The fact that a large part of his life had revolved around the flower made the prospect all the more exciting. "Since 1984, I've been actively involved to the extent that on my wife's suggestion I even secured a degree in horticulture from Yashavantrao Chavan Open University in Nasik."

Dr Vikas Mhaskar
Dr Vikas Mhaskar

Till date, Mhaskar has organised over 20 rose shows and won accolades for his collection, including the Best Fragrant Rose Trophy at the All India Rose Show, Bhopal, in 2014. Although the climate in Maharashtra isn't conducive to rose growing, he says that there are ways to work around it. He has created organic manure using cow dung, bananas and jaggery for the purpose. For him, the most exciting part is watching the bud blossom. "It's surreal. It's like watching your child become a successful adult."


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