Gardens are a simple, and effective method to change the environment in cities. ArtyPlantz has been setting up gardens for a few years now, but the scale at which we were able to impact people has been low. We wondered what we were doing wrong and set about on a small research project to answer some of our questions. We talked to a lot of people at gardens and nurseries in Bangalore.
We learned that the best way to get a garden started is by contacting your “friendly neighborhood mali”. Every mali is innately equipped with wonderful know-how about plants and how to take care of them, but they don’t worry about buying exotic plants that requires a ton of pesticide to grow. From mexican grass to petunias, a range of exotic plants is available in almost all nurseries, along with chemical pesticides and herbicides.
Getting the malis to grow native plants without chemicals was the challenge that stared back at us.
That is how the Urban Mali Initiative came into being! Starting with our in-house gardener, Sudhakar, we began experimenting with how such a project can become successful. The response has been great and hence here we are planting away, hoping to create a “Living Herbarium” in the city enhancing urban ecology so we can live in harmony with the birds, butterflies, bees and all the other biodiversity the city has to offer.