When a 1000 petalled lotus bloomed

The summer time solstice is a crucial day within the calendar for lotus grower, hybridiser and hobbyist Ganesh Kumar Anandhakrishnan. He had been in search of the prolonged daylight to coax, cajole and bloom the uncommon ‘Ultimate 1000 petal lotus’, also referred to as the Zhinzun Qianban, on his terrace in Tripunithura, Kochi, in Kerala.

On June 21, amid the pandemic gloom, Ganesh’s spirits soared as he noticed a conical pink bud seem on the plant. Over the subsequent 15 days, the bud slowly opened, “coaxed and tapped”, he says, and continued to unravel layer after layer till the entire, compact 14 centimetre flower was seen. “It has been super exciting,” says Ganesh, who relocated from Agartala in Tripura to his dwelling city in Kochi eight months in the past.

The origin of the 1,000 petal lotus dates again to historical occasions however was rediscovered in 2009 by a Chinese horticulturalist, Diake Tian.

Ganesh’s love for lotuses goes again to his childhood when he was charmed by the garlands positioned on the residing deity on the Sree Poornathrayeesa temple in Tripunithura. He picked up his curiosity in gardening from his father, and it grew manifold whereas he was posted in Agartala as a farm assistant with the Rubber Board.

“Our office garden in Agartala was huge but unkempt. So, we decided to make a winter garden,” says Ganesh. He launched a native lotus, the pink and white selection from South India. “To my surprise, it bloomed frequently,” he provides.

Road to blossomville

This expertise refined his curiosity in studying extra about cultivation. The Northeast of India grew to become his laboratory. Soon, his information coated all of the varieties from single petal to a number of petals, — “the white with pink tip Assam lotus looks like a larger version of the tulip,” he says — together with the famed yellow lotus that adorns Goddess Meenakshi on the Madurai temple.

Networking with different lotus growers and members of the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society (IWGS) helped construct contacts. One of his associates, Somnath Pal, who’s a waterlily hybridiser from Thane, helped procure seeds and tubers of various forms of lotuses.

Ganesh Kumar Anandhakrishnan  

Ganesh thus created his first hybrid, a cross between a tropical and a sub-tropical lotus, Nelumbo ‘Alamelu’ (Nelumbo is the genus, adopted by the identify of the cultivar), which he named after his mom in 2015.

In 2017, his hybrid Nelumbo ‘Miracle’, a 500 petal flower, was the primary lotus from India to get registered with IWGS . In 2018, he created Nelumbo ‘Little Rain’, a micro lotus. “The character of the flower is that it can be grown in a very small container too,” he says, explaining that he experimented with seed hybridisation.

In 2015, Ganesh procured the 1,000 petal lotus tuber from Tian himself, and, in 2017, managed to develop and make it flower in Tripura. However, rising the lotus within the tropical humidity of southern India, in Kochi, was a problem. “There is a difference between sub tropical and tropical lotuses. The biggest problem to grow the temperate lotus here is daylight,” explains Ganesh.

So, when he planted the ‘ultimate 1000 petal lotus’ he was sceptical. “After the bud appeared, the rains came down. I had to protect the plant. A coconut frond fell on it from my neighbour’s garden dashing all hopes of the plant’s survival,” he provides.

When a 1000 petalled lotus bloomed

Yet, it bloomed and the flower grew to become the cynosure of all eyes. It stood gracefully for 5 days earlier than it withered, however one other bud is unraveling beneath his watch. “We will offer it to the [Poornathrayeesa] temple,” says Ganesh.

He provides: “During my days in Agartala, when I felt lonely, the lotus was my only solace. It is a perfect analogy for the human condition because even when its roots are in the dirtiest waters, the lotus produces the most beautiful flower.”

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