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Posted at: Apr 15, 2017, 6:44 PM; last updated: Apr 15, 2017, 6:44 PM (IST)GREEN HOUSE

Changing mood of nature

The shedding leaves add to the beauty of the landscape of a place

Amarjeet Singh Batth

Nature’s elegance is evident in the hues of green, yellow, brown and copper in the falling leaves towards the end of spring. The fallen leaves reflect the changing mood of nature. Shedding leaves is an integral part of the plant’s life. A few trees offer a charming bonanza of colours while shedding their leaves. While planning a garden, the gardener should always keep in mind that there should be colour and life in the garden round the year. This should be evident in not only new leaves and flowering only but in the shedding leaves as well. Shedding leaves add a new dimension to the beautification of a landscape.

Trees are seldom part of small gardens but an important part of a big garden, farm houses, institutional landscape, public park and city landscape. Falling leaves along the roadside are not garbage but an element of elegance. Not only are these a visual delight but also produce a cracking sound as one walks over dried leaves.

The climate of North India casts its effects on the growth pattern of a range of tree specimens. This sub-tropical region not only supports native flora but also plantation of other climatic regions. To mention, schleichera oleosa (kusam), madua indica (mahua), ficus virens (pilkhan) and heterophragma adenophyllum (marodphali) are some such trees.

Schleichera oleosa (kusam) is a large deciduous shady tree generally planted by the roadside or in public places. The colour of the bark is grey or pale brown. The shedding leaves turn bright yellow before falling in March. The new leaves appear in bright scarlet in April and become its most attractive feature. These then slowly turn light green before finally turning dark green. The tiny yellow flowers in short dense cluster and tiny plum-sized fruit are inconspicuous.

The timber is hardest and heaviest. It is one of the primary host tree of the ‘lac’ insect and yield finest quality of ‘laakh’.

Madua indica (Mahua) is also a large-sized deciduous, drought hardy but sensitive to frost when young and lives long. It is suitable as a beautiful avenue tree but not very popular in this region. However, it is common in central India. The leaves start turning yellow during late March and leave a splash of colour. Its nutritive flowers are the lifeline to many poor, besides animals. Mahua oil, butter and oil cakes are household names. Such is the importance of this tree that it is seldom axed.

Heterophragma adenophyllum (marodphali) is a deciduous, large-sized tree, which is adapted to dry conditions but not extreme cold and frost. The pale yellow flowers, which are bell-shaped and curly cylindrical fruit-sized make it easy to identify the plant. Before shedding leaves, these turn purple and then yellow, giving a soothing effect. It is a fast-growing tree and not admired by grazing animals so it is ideal as an avenue tree or as a component of a large garden design. Its timber too has good commercial value.

Ficus virens (pilkhan) is a large deciduous dense foliage fig tree with a spreading canopy. The fast-growing tree loves moist conditions but is adapted welll to grow in drought conditions as well. The foliage exhibits a wide array of colours when it renews its leaves in late spring. It also has aerial roots akin to a banyan tree. While it gives shade as a roadside tree, its leaves are consumed by animals and the large canopy acts as a wind barrier.

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