Visitors flock to Chrysanthemum exhibition at historic Islamia College University

Sher Alam Shinwari

PESHAWAR: The annual chrysanthemum exhibition attracts visitors from around the city and this year, students along with their teachers from even tribal districts showed up. According to gardeners, the chrysanthemum exhibition is conducted every year since its first launch in December 1987 on the lawn of Islamia College University and ever since the number of visitors has been increasing as group of students, teachers, parents and nature -lovers flock to the historic Islamia College University to enjoy the most attractive sight of the chrysanthemum exhibition.  “If you would be happy for a lifetime, grow Chrysanthemums.” (Chinese philosopher)

Javed Chacha, chief florist told this scribe that late Arbab Sikandar , the then Principal of Islamia College Peshawar had floated the idea to display various species of the chrysanthemum ‘ Gul-i- Daudi’  in Urdu and ‘Gul-i-Shashti’ in Pashto which had been brought from Japan during early 80s. He said that around 80 different species of chrysanthemum were displayed where about hundreds and thousands of visitors from parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including tribal districts turned up.

Zia-ur-Rahman, a student from Waziristan told this scribe that he and his 40 colleagues had planned a trip to enjoy the exhibition of chrysanthemum at ICU in addition to its historic building. He said that their trip remained wonderful as their group got valuable information regarding the annual display of the chrysanthemum also known as ‘Queen of the Fall’.

Ali Hoti, security incharge at ICU said that chrysanthemum exhibition was being held every year with an objective to raise awareness among public especially youngsters regarding the significance of flowers and plants as both helped enhance the aesthetic sense and reduce environmental pollution.

“The display launched in December continued till its flowers get withered away. Around 100 gardeners take care of flowers and plants on ICUP campus, visitors wait for the most beautiful sight of chrysanthemum and every year our florists added to its design, species and placement, this year, they won a cash prize from the Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Naushad Khan,” Mr Hoti stated.

Zakia Ali, a teacher from a private school told that she brought her students to ICU to enjoy the sight of chrysanthemum. She said that her students took great interest in the display of the wonderful flower and such events not charmed the jubilant students   but also filled them with excitement.

As a landscaping plant, the chrysanthemum makes a beautiful Fall display for the home garden. With skill and artistry, many varied effects can be achieved, even when only a small growing area is available. Chrysanthemums can accentuate an entrance way; provide the Fall colors to a season-long growing bed; or dominate a growing area with the many varied shapes, sizes, and colors.  

Used in this fashion, chrysanthemums provide an outstanding climax to the season before the colds of winter arrive. Longwood Gardens (in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania) and the New York Botanical Garden (in Bronx, New York) are two locations that have annual displays that demonstrate many uses of the versatile and beautiful chrysanthemum. As with all gardening efforts, it is not luck or the so-called green thumb that achieves results, but rather hard work and dirty fingernails.

Prof Khalid Khan, research scholar while sharing his views said that chrysanthemum belonged to family of asteraceae was first cultivated in China as flowering herb during 15th BC and old legends narrated that its boiled roots were used as remedy for   headache , fresh sprouts and petals were eaten in salads and leaves were brewed for a festive drink. The ancient Chinese name for chrysanthemum is “Chu.” The Chinese city of Chu-Hsien [which means Chrysanthemum City] was so named to honour the flower.

Mr Khan maintained that Japanese were memorized with beauty of chrysanthemum in 8th century AD and 9th September had been celebrated as the chrysanthemum national happiness day  because the number of ‘nine’  of the ninth month of year  was considered as the most propitious day. “There are countless florets of chrysanthemum and various shades of colours including pink, purple, red, yellow, bronze or orange, and white. Grown on the soil of South Asia, the flower travelled to the West and Europe in early 17th century where hybridizers had developed   numerous colours, floral patterns and sizes,” the botanist explained.

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