What a sight. So full of flowers. Thousands and thousands of them.

These two bougainvillaea trees in central Delhi’s Lodhi Garden make one of the city’s most stunning spectacles, though usually during a particular time of the year. Most Delhi connoisseurs would argue that an aesthetic experience of the city demands a visit to its great monuments, but a satisfying experience of the Capital necessitates a pilgrimage to this pair of trees during their prime bloom. Delhi has lush bougainvillaea sights in other places too—including Buddha Garden, the roundabout near the Italian embassy, Chelmsford Road, etc., etc.—but no place compares to the show put up by these two trees.

As a matter of fact, the glorious duo has already been celebrated in these pages two years ago.

But this time it’s different.

The familiar pink on them might be… lockdown bougainvillaeas.

To be sure, bougainvillaeas bloom throughout the year and are very friendly with high temperature. These two exceptional bougainvillea trees, however, are most amply loaded with their bloom in peak summer—from March to May. This fateful year their great blossom must have come and gone away unseen, with the park regulars stranded in their homes due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. By late June every year, the trees look like any other drab scrap of vegetation.

But. It’s late June right now and the two trees are in full-fledged blossoming. It’s rare, a gardener confirms.

Are the considerate trees trying to give us a second chance to appreciate their splendour?

One theory of their quick re-flush is offered by PK Tripathi, a member of the executive committee of the Delhi-based Bougainvillea Society of India. Talking on phone, Mr Tripathi repeats that while bougainvillaeas blossom throughout the year, the profuse flowering occurs only in the harsh summer season. “The reason behind the current spectacular show going on in Lodhi Garden is definitely the cleaner air caused by the lockdown.”

Another reason is propounded by S Chellaiah, director, horticulture, NDMC, whose department looks after the Lodhi Garden. “The synchronisation of recent showers with high temperature produced high humidity, which gave this fantastic bloom.”

Regardless, it is difficult to enjoy this beauty when the world is going through a trying time due to the pandemic. The general distress is discernible in the fact that the green benches under the trees are without romantic couples. A visitor’s first instinct in a normal time would be to claim the vacant seat immediately, but now there are new concerns—what if any asymptomatic person, infected with corona, sat on the lovely bench earlier?

Meanwhile, the monsoon is almost here, the heat won’t last long and this luscious rash will go away.

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