12 Asoka saplings planted by ‘Friends of Trees’ at Vazhuthacaud turn one

There were no festoons. Nor were there any balloons or a lighted candle. The 12 of them celebrated their first birthday with water and organic neem manure. Members of the city-based non-governmental organisation ‘Friends of Trees’ who planted 12 Asoka saplings on a median near the Cotton Hill school at Vazhuthacaud here on October 15 last year came back on Tuesday to celebrate the saplings’ first birthday.

All through the year, they had carefully tended to these saplings as was evident from the healthy stems and the light green leaves which kept swaying in the wind.

C.K. Karunakaran, former Chief Conservator of Forests, remembers the rainy day on which he planted them here.

“It was pouring heavily when Velappan and I planted them over the course of a few hours. Not many turned up to support then,” says Mr. Karunakaran. An obvious question for many who turned up for the ‘birthday’ celebrations was about the size of the plants. Why were they so small after a year?

“We are not using any manure for the first few years as Asoka tends to attain a big height and then it will catch the wind. Now, you can see that the stems have gained some strength. After two years, they will be strong enough to withstand the wind pressure,” he says. He says that plants such as ‘koova’ are usually planted on the medians. Most of these end up blocking the view of motorists, if they manage to survive.

R. Raja Raja Varma, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Forces, inaugurated the celebrations. Velappan, a daily wage labourer, who helped with the planting and watered the plants through the year, was given an award at the function.

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