Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tree park in the making- Kotturpuram PWD park

6:30am a few days back, my mother and I set out to the tree park being developed by the Adyar river by Nizhal, a local organization that i am a part of, that promotes tree culture in urban areas. It was my turn to monitor the 100+ saplings that had been planted by volunteers in the months before. The park is a joint initiative between the Public Works Department of the city and Nizhal. Work on the 5acre area started last year - after the land was made ready, Nizhal planted carefully chosen saplings in July 08. The area was then fenced and a second round of planting done in Nov 08. All the saplings are of indigenous Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF) species. To know more about TDEF species, visit the website of the Pitchandikulam Forest Consultants. Nizhal is currently engaged in caring for the saplings - manuring, weeding, watering and protecting and continued planting.

The ground was wet -- it had poured the night before. The watchman told us there had been tremors for a brief moment -- after effects of an earthquake in the andaman. But it looked like the saplings, much like myself, had been unware of the events of the night, and were none the worse for it!

We proceeded to survey the saplings, armed with our printed park layout diagrams. Most of the saplings were small - not above my knee in most cases. A few that had been planted over a year back had grown quite a bit though and were in bloom! Here is an article from "The Hindu" newspaper about the beginnings of this park.

Most of them were well protected by tree guards (also made by volunteers), from the hungry little deer that also inhabit the corners of the park. A few had some insect eaten leaves, one had something that resembled leaf galls and this one had the same white spots that the tree in front of my house does: Is it from an insect?

There were some weeds, some dry leaves, but on the whole the saplings looked real good - healthy and growing! Ah to see them all grown up someday! What a delight that will be!

The ground had some interesting little plants growing here and there. The little blue flowers are probably some cousin of a morning glory.

Update: A member of Nizhal has helped identify this (using Isaac Kehimkar's Common Indian Wild Flowers) as Evolvulus Alsinoides - called the slender dwarf morning glory/ little glory in english and locally the Vishnukranthi or Sankhapushpi. The internet tells me that this 'weed' that grows wild in open grasslands in India has a lot of significance in Ayurvedic medicine and is used to treat a host of mental ailments.

This prickly beauty below was identified as the Solanum virginianum (previously Solanum surattense) or the Yellow-berried/Thorny Nightshade -- another 'weed' that has a host of medicinal properties and is used in Ayurveda. Its root is used to make 'Dasamula' - an ayurvedic tonic made of ten roots that sustains life and counteracts disease.

Do i "rescue" these two weeds and take them home??!

The view of the trees and buildings on the other side of the river reminded me of Portland, Oregon, the city of a million bridges , with its view of mount hood and the the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry from across the williamette river. The Adyar river unfortunately has seen years of pollution from commercial and domestic sources, and needs a lot of cleaning. Rowers from the boat club were practising up and down the river despite the floating debris and the smells...

For more on the park, visit flowergirl's blogpost. Turns out the deer aren't the only ones representing the fauna there.

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