K.K. Agarwal, Owner Of Thousands Of Cacti, Has Gardening Tips For You!
- IWB Post
- August 6, 2015
Remember Sushma K.K.? The culinary expert who treated us a few days back not only with the scrumptious food but also with a heavy dose of laughter injected by her husband, Mr. K. K. Agarwal! Their sweet and sour love amidst cacti and dahivada is undoubtedly one of a kind and is something that is sure to bring a wide smile on anybody’s face!
Besides the beautiful bond, they also share one more thing in common: both of them have been included in the Limca Book of Record, for different reasons, obviously.
Last time we shared Sushma KK’s culinary expertise with all you wonderful ladies out there, and today, especially for the ones who have a love for gardening, we present Mr. K.K. Agarwal’s exceptional collection of succulent plants. Ladies, keep your notepads handy, for this man’s tips on gardening cacti are something you wouldn’t want to miss!
This man lives with more than 4000 plants encompassing about 2500 different varieties, on the top floor of his building KK Square. I don’t know about our photographer Shashank, but I had never seen that many plants together at a house in my entire twenty-something years! Yes it was a grand thing for me, so to quench my inquisitive mind’s curiosity, I engaged Mr. K.K. in a conversation.
Since when have you been collecting cacti plants?
Since the year 1972! I still have some succulents from back then in my collection right now.
Okay so, his collection had some plants which were more than double my age. I don’t know why but that sounded both creepy and interesting to me. When he shows me those plants I will make sure to address them as Papa Cacti, I silently conversed with myself.
He continued, “I was sitting in the veranda in my old house wondering how people said that if they had a large piece of land, they would do this, they would do that; and we, who did have a huge area weren’t doing anything. That is when I took up gardening. Succulent plants live for a huge time frame. They grow up and age with you. So I started growing them.”
I have often heard people saying that cacti are inauspicious and draw bad luck. Why is that?
Well, it is said that the holy grails speak of cacti plants as inauspicious. But the fact of the matter is that these holy grails age back to 500 years when cacti plants didn’t even exist in India. A tree or two of cacti were brought in India by Columbus much later. And that time these cacti were as valuable as gold.
Wow! This is surprising! Anti-cacti people, are you listening?
…and in fact, if these plants brought misfortune, I would have been sitting on the railway tracks today chanting Hey Ram!
Uptil now I was sure of one thing, K.K. sir valued his plants like his children. And what’s more? Both his children’s names are synonyms of plants: Taru and Shakha!
So, is cactus a high-maintenance plant?
Not at all! It can tolerate negligence. You know, people have a blind misconception about succulent plants. They think that these do not require water.
Let me explain it to you. If a camel and a cow got lost in a jungle without food or water, after ten days, the cow would be found dead. And as for the camel, it sure would become a bit weak, but it won’t die! That is because a camel stores some water in itself for the bad days.
Same is the case with succulents, cacti being one of them. They store water in their roots, stems, or branches, which sustains them through the bad days. If you don’t take care of them, say for a month, they would definitely shrink, but wouldn’t perish!
And this quality of the cacti and succulent plants was well registered in our minds. I noticed that Sir had a nice and unique way of getting his point across.
He offered us a tour of his vast collection, guiding us through the varied varieties residing there. And yes, I did meet Papa Cacti. Of course we captured it for you. Have a look!
“These are Lithops, a South-African variety of succulents. I import the seeds and grow them.” I also came to know that he was the only person in India to grow this breed of succulents! In case Lithop interests any of you out there, you know who to contact!
What gardening tips would you give to all the cacti-lovers like you?
First and foremost, before you plan to garden a cactus, ask your family and have their consent. I have seen so many people who throw out these plants after few days thinking the stupid myth that these bring bad luck.
Next, if you are still willing to take up this hobby, do it with love. Give these plants your personal attention.
Use porous soils, like bajri, for instance. They grow better when the water seeps through to the roots, instead of standing still on the surface due to non-porous soils!
The rest, as I said, these aren’t so demanding creatures!
Unlike us humans! What plants would you recommend to grow along with cactus?
Ummm, you can grow palms and other zerophytic plants.
Once we were done meeting the plants, he took us to his drawing room where we found a lot of cactus-like things. One of them was the 3-d wallpaper that the huge glass wall in the room bore which gave a feeling of sitting in the garden itself.
Also, there were stools, paperweights, inspired by different varieties of succulents. Along with the gardening tips, ladies, feel free to add these cool cacti home décor ideas to your notepad!
Our amazement knew no bounds when we were told that he also designs cactus-inspired jewelry. Shocking right? Jewelry and Cactus are two words which have absolutely no connection even in the parallel and third worlds! But here they have indeed come together!
Nature inspires us in varied ways, doesn’t it? So go ahead and do something uber cool with your cacti and who knows, you might end up creating an out-of-the-box nature inspired masterpiece!
Picture Courtesy: Shashank K Tyagi