Friday, August 26, 2005

Greenery around the city

Greenery around the city
It is possible for residents and residents’ associations to get plants and guidance to make the city spaces look greener
The Times of India


Have you noticed how colourful and green some of the medians and islands in the city are? And it does make you wish that all the medians and islands were as well-maintained and pretty. However, there are only specific types of plants that are suitable for such civic spaces.

According to a senior officer in the Horticulture Department, the medians in the city are currently being outsourced to private institutions. Seven such medians have already been given out in south Bangalore and more are likely to follow. The private institutions are required to make their own investment for planting the trees and plants, and have to maintain them as well. The deputy directors (advertisement) and DC development are in charge of the medians and institutions are chosen through a tendering process. In case individuals or residents' associations wish to look after a median, they would be required to participate in this process. The plan approval for the median is given by the Horticulture Department which also provides technical guidance, guidance on the kind of plants to be planted, trimming of shrubs etc.

Islands and circles however, are given out for adoption and a tendering process is not in place for this purpose. A hospital for instance, has adopted 17 islands in south Bangalore and is maintaining them. So, if individuals or residents' associations wish to adopt any island, circle or even a park, they must send a request letter to the district commissioner pertaining to their area and once he approves it, a certificate will be issued for a period of between one to three years.

The Deputy Conservator of Forest - Bangalore (Urban), B M Parameshwara, says that only dwarf species of plants should be planted in medians and not trees. Bohemia, bougainvillea, parijatha and pongemia are also ideal for this space. "When it comes to circles, small shrubs that are ornamental can be planted," he explains. "Bangalore is a place where you can plant any type of species and it will grow healthily. This is because the city is blessed with the effects of both the south-western and north-eastern monsoons, and the soil is very good too".

Sidewalks and footpaths are often a sad sight and many residents take to planting plants especially in the area in front of their homes. However, residents must become aware that footpaths and sidewalks are meant for just that particular purpose and any attempt by them to plant shrubs and plants on them of their own volition is considered illegal. "Just because the sidewalks and footpaths are wide, residents cannot plant trees or plants according to their wish. It's not allowed," says the senior horticulture official.

Guidance on the type of plants and trees to be planted in these areas is readily given by the Horticulture Department and they also sell plants and seedlings at a very nominal rate for this purpose. In case you want a nice kitchen garden or a garden welcoming people into your home, then the Horticulture Department is a good place to head to for advice and plants. For a kitchen garden for instance, plants like lime, pomegranate, curry leaf, vegetables and other fruits, are ideal says a senior horticulture officer, who adds that coconut trees are also extremely popular for homes.

Choosing plants…
With water in shortage for drinking and home use, one should be prudent while planting trees at home. It would be wise to go in for plants that consume less water.
Here are some suggestions:
Bougainvillea: Named after a French navigator, this plant's flowers can be of several different hues like pink, red, orange, or white. It requires sparse to light watering and is a warm weather plant that grows well in slightly colder climates as well.
Rat poison plant: Another plant that requires less water, it can be trimmed to shape. It's quite suitable for medians.
Duranta speciosa: This plant has big variegated leaves and is also suitable for medians.
Cacti: There are numerous species of cacti that are available. These plants are generally to be kept dry when they are dormant and more water is necessary during active growth.
Fruit trees: These also require less water and since Bangalore has good rainfall, are ideal for homes.

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