Sunday, January 11, 2004

Tree truths
Satish Narula

The tecoma looks good near the entrance
The tecoma looks good near the entrance

The drooping branches of the bottle brush give a welcome feel
The drooping branches of the bottle brush give a welcome feel

MOST of the gardeners select and plant those trees that are easily available at the nearest nursery. With a judicious choice these trees can be put to the best use. Each tree has its own special plus point apart from the usual established advantages.

Needless to say, in most of the cases, to grow a tree in a home garden is the privilege of those who have plenty of space and sunshine. Firstly, decide the location where you want to place the tree. 

While doing so take into consideration the potential height and spread of the tree 10 years after planting. The place selected could either be within the premises or outside the boundary wall. 

If planning to grow it outside the wall, keep in mind certain points. Make sure there is no electricity line overhead to interfere with its growth. 

If so, go in for only those trees that are short-statured like Pride of India, Ashoka (Pendula), plumeria (gul-e-Chin), royal palm or the bottle palm, bottle brush, etc. Whereas the Ashoka can be kept short by pruning at a particular height, the bottle palm can be so planted that its fronds (leaves) do not interfere with overhead wires. 

Plumeria can also be headed back during winter to allow it to grow to a respectable height within a short span.

Also be very careful while digging the pit, lest you damage an underground installation. However, a major consideration should be the direction of the sun. 

You must be aware of the direction of sun movement at your residence. Do not locate the tree at a place where its shade interferes with other plants or blocks your much-needed winter sun.

The nature of the tree should also be well understood before a selection is made. There are deciduous trees like amaltas, chilta, tecoma etc that shed leaves in summer and those like the kachnar, drek, weeping willow, simbal etc. that go dormant by shedding leaves in winter. 

There are evergreens like chukrasia, alstonia, bauhinia blackiana (kali kachnar) that do not shed leaves or dirty the ground. Also avoid plant medicinal trees like Arjuna, amaltas, jamun, bel, amla etc. 

Most of the time you will find people attacking your trees with crude ‘weapons’ like axe, khurpa, gandasa and knife, etc to get their bark, roots, leaves, flowers, etc, as is the case with some species in Chandigarh.


Nip mango mealy bug in the bud now
December 14, 2003

Plant evergreens at the entrance
November 30, 2003

Amla, jamun plants regain popularity
November 16, 2003
Cycads a favourite of landscapists
October 19, 2003
Save the citrus crop from fruit drop
October 5, 2003
Variegated foliage a wonder of nature
September 21, 2003
Cultivate crotons for colour
September 7, 2003
Experiment with the ananas
August 24, 2003

The shedding of fruit from the jamun tree dirties the place. Trees like the Arjuna also shed pods (seed capsules) during the late summer months in large numbers which are washed with the ensuing rains, clogging the sewerage system.

Some gardeners like to grow and possess trees that evoke curiosity. They can go in for trees like ficus krishnae, the makhan dona tree. 

The leaf margin in this case gets fused backward, making a natural bowl, which Lord Krishna used to store butter. 

If you are planning to plant kadam, make sure it is not planted anywhere near the passage as the falling ping-pong-like blooms dirty the place when treaded upon. 

Silver oak’s foliage presents a silver appearance when the leaves swing in the breeze but this tree is very prone to the white ant attack.

Weeping willow and bottle brush, the welcome trees, should be planted in a way that 10 years hence, their branches do not block the entrance. The former can also be used as a single specimen tree. Tecoma, gulmohar, pink mohur, Mexican silk cotton tree, erythrina (Indian coral tree) bottle brush, kachnar, amaltas etc look good because of heavy flowering. 

Koelreuteria gives three colours at a time—green foliage, yellow blooms and red coloured pods. Plumeria, alstonia, etc too are a good choice.