The captivity of this pandemic has taught people a lot, which many of us were unknowingly neglecting for years. We are learning how much luxury and wastage in life could be spared. Some of us now know how much a roof garden is needed to see a little glimpse of green and breathe some fresh in a high-rise city.
Gardening is in fact a hobby of old days and KikiuMarma is one of those old school student in a new era. The school teacher of Bandarban started a house adjacent garden with only a couple of rose trees a year ago; she has already collected many well-known and unique trees.
However, her interest in gardening has been growing since being added to a virtual group by the gardeners on Facebook. Inspired by the photos of others’ gardens there, she has bought trees from selling post and expanded her garden. Not only terrestrial trees, various local and foreign water lilies and lotuses are also found in her garden.
But where is the space for gardening next to the door, like KikiuMarma’s, in a city of high-rise buildings like Dhaka? Rooftop is the only available open air space. If there is luck, a little sun can be seen on the verandah. Many people have already arranged the verandah or rooftop garden of small spaces.
There is a saying that, people never get poor buying books. The same might be true for plants. Just as much as it costs to buy and care for a tree, the tree returns thousand times more, not in monetary term, though! While technology and mechanics are putting the mental and physical health at risk, the time spent behind the roof garden can also compensate for that loss at the same time.
SufiaKhatun, a housewife from Gazipur, has shared her experience of a roof garden. Earlier this year, she collected some pepper saplings from her housemaid making a small space on the rooftop. As the office was closed for some time due to the pandemic, her agriculturist husband also cooperated, and within a very short time, they planted a vegetable garden on the rooftop.
As theirs is a multi-storey building, climbing the stairs to the roof every morning and afternoon to take care of the garden is also a part of their daily necessary physical exercise. Besides, the yield of lemon, chilli, coriander, mint, watercress, Kangkong, spinach, tomato, eggplant, ladies finger, etc. in her garden, there is enough to meet the needs of her family. She is also happy eating fresh vegetables from her garden. Besides, she has planted aloe vera, henna, and basil trees, which are important for health and skincare.
Radia Islam, a university student, has shifted new on the 4th floor of a building under construction in the Dokkhin Khan Kawla area of Dhaka Airport. So definitely it is very tough to reach the nine-storey roof every day.
However, her addiction to flowers is old, which is why she has built a flower garden in her small verandah with rangana, alakananda, cactus, roses of various varieties and colours, belli, marigold, gardenia, hasnuhana, various orchids, madhabilata etc. With a little care, colourful flowers bloom almost all year round on it. The small clay tubs of terracotta works add a different artistic dimension to it. When the soil is older than six months, she applies a little urea fertilizer and occasionally pesticides.
As heavy as the word tendance sounds, it takes very little labour or time to make a porch or roof garden. Rather a small garden returns many times more than one invests. This pandemic is great proof that nature can turn vengeful if injustice is done to it. On the flip side, the roof gardens can become glimpses of green nature in the caged life of a city.
Sirajum Munira Tuli is currently studying English Literature at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet.