Monday, February 27, 2006

Shaping trees for a better view

Shaping trees for a better view

The Hindu

Horticulture Department has plans for Vidhana Soudha, High Court building

# Tree Surgery Technical Committee formed
# Panel makes recommendations to make buildings more visible
# Ashoka trees around Vidhana Soudha being shaped

Bangalore: The Department of Horticulture, which maintains the gardens around the Vidhana Soudha, the Karnataka High Court building and Cubbon Park, has come up with a plan to enhance the view of the magnificent buildings without destroying the trees around them.

Gardens and parks around any edifice such as the Vidhana Soudha should be in harmony with the building, and its appendage structures like fountains, staircases, lampposts, circles and statues should all complement each other, D.L. Maheshwar, Joint Director of Horticulture, told The Hindu .

In fact, the day Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy was sworn in on the steps in front of the Vidhana Soudha, overlooking the Attara Katcheri (High Court building), a row of Ashoka trees (Polyalthia longifolia) that had been "chopped" caused a great deal of consternation among many people.

However, there is absolutely no cause for worry, says S. Narayanaswamy, Assistant Director of Horticulture in charge of the Vidhana Soudha gardens.

It was his idea that the Horticulture Department must emulate Rome, where most of the magnificent ruins, structures and edifices are clearly visible from a distance, with dwarf oleanders planted around them.

A committee headed by the former Environment Secretary A.N. Yellappa Reddy was set up to look into all aspects of shaping the trees around the Vidhana Soudha.

Tree surgery

Mr Narayanaswamy, who executed the bio-park on the 1,200-acre Jnanabharati campus of Bangalore University, suggested the idea of tree surgery, as enunciated by M.H. Mari Gowda, former Director of Horticulture who was considered the doyen of Karnataka's horticulture sector in the post-Independence period.

Director of Horticulture G.K. Vasanth Kumar conducted extensive research and put together ample material on tree surgery in London's Kew Gardens.

Mr. Narayanaswamy, who is also Secretary of the Arboriculture Association of India, is passionate about the planning, planting, and management of trees.

Armed with ample inputs on how to improve the health of trees, tree canopy and the kind of trees that must be grown around places like the Vidhana Soudha, the Tree Surgery Technical Committee came out with its recommendations to make Bangalore's most famous building more visible, without losing the trees.

Mr. Yellappa Reddy recommended that trees must be manipulated to extract the maximum ecological services from them in bringing down noise pollution, and trapping suspended particulate matter and respiratory particulate matter.

The 16 clusters of 75 Ashoka trees around the Vidhana Soudha frontage have a Christmas tree as the cluster leader.

These trees are being given proper shape by removing their terminal crowns and lopsided growth.

This is under way and the "chopped" trees are going to be slim, elegant posts that will allow the Vidhana Soudha's magnificence to be admired freely, Dr. Maheshwar says.

The 200-odd naturally generated shrubs to the left of the Kengal Hanumanthaiya statue have overgrown.

They lack natural architecture and many have been suppressed in growth due to root competition and non-availability of light.

The wild growth could even pose a security threat, as access can be gained to the area without being visible. Fortunately, some tree surgery and pruning can take care of the problem, the committee has decided.

In the arboretum of the Legislators' Home, there are many ecological keystone species to be found such as ficus, jambulana and plumeria.

Many of these can be rejuvenated by manipulation, cutting off lopsided or drooping growth and removing deadwood. In the past few months, the trees at the rear of the Vidhana Soudha (towards the east), the Thandi Sadak near the Legislators' Home and the trees in the Rose Garden have been pruned and treated with chemicals, in readiness for the coming monsoon, Mr. Narayanaswamy added.

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