Darjeeling Lloyd’s Botanical Garden,Darjeeling: The greenest Botanical Garden for the longest stretches of the 40-acre area preserving and displaying hundreds of plant species since 1878 is the Lloyd’s Botanical Garden in Darjeeling at 27°2 39"N 88°15 43"E, at an altitude of 7000 feet above sea level.
Lloyds’s Botanical Garden has captured the very essence of the Hills capes in its landscape. The garden is undulated and terraced in some parts and slopes in the other parts with lush bright tender-green coloured grass interspersed with tall trees, bushes and flowery shrubs. The Garden has well defined walkways and regular seating areas to cool your heels on this plant-marathon. From some parts of the Garden you can catch a glimpse of the cityscapes of Darjeeling and from the other parts you can get stunning unobstructed views of the whole valley of Darjeeling with the White Mountains in the horizon. In some parts of the Garden you walk through tight walkways under dense canopy of mature trees and in the other parts you stand in the vast open lawns under the sun in plain sight and sometimes in the drifting clouds.
An interesting feature of this botanical garden is that the Garden Conservatory displays more than 150 species of cactus and other succulent plants from dry Eco-regions such as the montane grasslands and shrublands as well as the desert where there is a perennial moisture deficit. All these succulents retain water in their stems, leaves and roots whenever they get water, in order to survive long dry periods which run into months at a stretch. What’s more interesting about these succulents on display is that some of them – called ‘Air Plants’ – have no contact with the ground and survive off the moisture that they absorb from the air. They are known to grow on electric poles and walls and trees but survive independent of the host.
At Lloyd’s you will find a dazzling display of colours and velvety textures of the Orchids belonging to the Himalayan Mountains’ Singhalia Ridge of West Bengal which have received rave reviews from the thousands who visit this Greenhouse each year. More than 2490 plants are on display in the Orchidarium. Shade-tolerant with low need for fertilizers, the colour-burst bushes of Azaleas, Gladioli, Rhododendrons, Lilies, Magnolias and Geraniums of the Northern Temperate Hemisphere are a feast to the eyes – among others. Arisaema – better known as a ‘cobra lily’ is a rare and catchy display of some of the Asiatic species in the Garden. The mountainous woody plant – Cotoneaster which bears bunches of red berries and is native to Ireland and the UK, is seen in abundance in the Garden.
The Tall representatives of the Darjeeling Himalayan Hill forests’ perennial evergreens – the bamboo; the cold-latitude evergreens – the Oak; and valued for timber and paper production – the conifers are all at home at Lloyd’s which make a brilliant visual.
From New Zealand and Australia were imported the silver and black wattle, the silver oak, the blue gum and eucalyptus; blackberry, broom, horse, chestnut, ash, birch, lilac, hawthorn also on display were imported from Europe; cryptomerias; plums, cherries, magnolias and maples weeping willows and deodars from Japan and China; the Cape, Bulbon plants and the cypress from Africa; and magnolia grandiflora and jurriferus bermudiana from America. Native to the Hawaiian Islands – the Begonia flowers – in bright shades of orange and pink fill up the flowerscape section.
Basically, by visiting the Lloyd’s Garden, one would get a visual tour of most of the plant species that inhabit the high altitudes of Darjeeling and its Himalayan environs as well as exotica from far off foreign lands in the comfort of one single Garden. It’s a dream come true for Botany students and photography enthusiasts.