Government Botanical Garden, Ooty: Things to See and Do

A Guide Tour to Botanical Garden in Ooty

One of the major attractions of India is Government Botanical Garden, Ooty. Situated near Udhagamandalam in Ooty, Tamilnadu, this botanical garden Ooty was laid out in the year 1848 by Graham Mclvor.

Now and Thenbotanical garden ooty

The garden is sprawled across 22 hectares and lies in the lower Doddabetta peak.  The garden is separated into sections and is under maintenance of Tamil Nadu Horticulture department.  The initial plan of the garden was prepared by the Marquis of Tweedale and to provide vegetables to European residents at lower rates. A charge of Rs. 3 per month was taken as the maintenance fee from the residents and such residents could get vegetables free of cost. Like the rest of India, Ooty was also under British reign then and the garden was managed by Captain Molyneux of European regiment.  However, the leeway couldn’t work for long time and in 1847, donations were raised to convert the space into a full-fledged horticultural society and public garden. It was one of very first society of its kind and there were very few people around taking interest in seeds and saplings.  The seeds and plants could only be sourced from nearby jungles and hence, after selecting the property between Lushington Hall and General Swell’s, it was established as a public garden.  Lushington School and General Swell’s property is now Hebron School and Raj Bhavan respectively.

Botanical Garden Ooty Transformation

The real transformation of the botanical garden Ooty happened under the care of Mr. W.G. Mclovr, a protégé from the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew.  He was sent to Ootacamund, now Ooty by East India Company and converted the garden upside down. The garden was segregated into the upper portion, the garden and the lower portion.  The lower portion was a swamp, and which later transformed into a beautiful landscape full with plants and flowers. The kind of efforts and hard work he had to put to make this garden the beauty is, evident from the fact that it took him 10 years!

The garden is situated on the slopes of hill with an elevation of 2250-2500 meters above sea level.  Ooty gets a rainfall of 140cm from South-West monsoon.  With temperate climate and frosty night from November to February as well as temperature dropping to as low as 15 degree Celsius, it is the best time to visit the garden if you could do with little chill in the air.

The garden is home to many exotic and indigenous species such as shrubs, ferns, herbs, bonsai and trees. The main attraction of the garden is fossil tree trunk that is more than 20 million year old.  The tree was brought in the garden from the National Fossil Park, Tiruvakkarai, South Arcot district, Tamil Nadu by Geological Survey of India. The fossil tree is the ultimate example of polystrate fossil and is believed to be carried away by rivers and filled with silica over the time.

As of now, the garden has over thousand species of fauna including medicinal plants, beds of flowers, ferns, lilies, ponds with flowers and lawns with flowering plants.

The botanical garden is also divided in six sections namely New Garden, Conservatory, Lower Garden, Nurseries, Italian Garden and Fountain Terrace.

ooty flower garden

Lower Garden in Botanical Garden Ooty:

Lower Garden has lawns and the main entrance, which opens to green lawns made of Kikuyu grass. Here you can explore fern house that flaunts more than 127 species of ferns and take you to the road leading to Raj Bhavan.  Along with the way, you have sprawling laws and gatehouses.  And while you are at it, you might want to pay attention to carpet design of Indian continent made with plant and signature fossil tree.

The tree species in the Lower Garden are Salix babylonica, Hymnosporum flavum, Eucalyptus citriodora, Rhododendron arboretum, Podocarpus taxifolia, Magnolia grandiflora, Cupressus macrocarpa, Cryptomeria japonica, Eucalyptus maculate, Dracena lanuginosa, Pinus patula, Quercus, Cordylline australlis, Cupressus funebrils. Cedrus deodara, Quercus Montana, Salix heterophylla and many more.flower garden ooty

New Garden:

New Garden features the front space with the crescent-shaped pond. Here you can find, rose garden flaunting more than 300 species of Polyanthus, hybrid tea roses and floribunda.  There are flowerbeds that enhance the shape of garden and carpet bed made of flower to contour the shape of map of emblem of Tamilnadu and India along with aquatic plants.

The tree species in the garden are Pinus wallichiana, Eucalyptus eugenoides , Araucaria cunninghammi, Juniperus virginianaTaxodium mucronatum, Pieris ovalifolia, Ginkgo biloba, Cupressus lawsonian,  Photinia lindleyana, Pinus canaariensils and many more.

Italian Garden

Italian garden was laid out as a part of reform and punishment by Italian prisoners when they were deported to Botanical garden in Ooty during World War I.  The flower beds have Italian pattern with octagonal bandstand standing out in the design. Annuals and perennial flowers like zinnia, dahlias, salvia, pansy, begonia, asters, ageratum,  larkspur,  phlox and petunias make this part of garden vibrant and attractive.

The trees species in this part of the garden are Aesculus, Pinus roxburghii, Grevillea hilliana. Albizzia julibrissin, Prunus cerasoides, Saurauja nepaulensis  and Cupressus torulosa.

The Conservatory in Ooty, Botanical Garden

The public conservatory brings colorful flowering annuals and perennial such as Geranium, Tydea, Gloxinia, Cineraria, Calceolaria, Tuberous begonia, Chrysanthemums and many more.

East facing is the bog garden that is more of a swamp and good site for marsh plants such as hydrangea, Arum, Hedychium, and weeping willow.

The Nurseries

The nurseries feature  eight glass houses and terrace gardens consisting exotic plants such as ferns, cacti, orchids, and succulents as well as bulbous plants.  These plants are grown periodically as per their season.  The terrace gardens are space for cut flowers, seedling and sapling purpose.

The Flower Show organized by the garden is the main attraction that brings more than 10 million tourists every year from all over the world to this garden.  The first show was organized in the year 1896 and since then, this two-day show has become a ritual to showcase cut flowers, flower arrangements, tropical and temperate vegetables as well as fruits by the contestants.

Fun Trivia:

The other attraction of the garden is arboretum, which is a living collection of tree and woody plant sprawling in 1.58 hectares since 1992 showcasing tree species like Quercus macrocarpa, Prunus pissardii, Evodia lunuankenda , Cupressus macrocarpa, Magnolia grandiflora, Dillenia pentagyna , Psychotria conjesta,  Calistemon lanceolatus, Meliosma arnotiana Meliosma wightii and many more.

The Toda Mundi is the location in the garden that gives you an insight into the lifestyle of Ooty’s original tribes, the Todas.