Jacarandas and Tabebuia argentea blooms cast a spell on the city in mauve and golden yellow hues
Most of us don't realise it, but Bangalore is beautiful at this time of the year. Everywhere, fresh new leaves, in varying shades of green and watery pink, catch my attention. The huge canopied rain trees with their parrot green leaves, the peepul and mango with transparent pink leaves, and the striking blue/mauve Jacaranda and the golden yellow Tabebuia argentea flowers, which are out in full bloom, have cast their spell on the city.
At the Windsor Manor, a triangle of dripping golden yellow Tabebuia argentea, a deciduous tree native to Brazil bursts out in a colourful welcome. The bright yellow trumpet shaped flowers hang in bunches and make a stunning sight, especially when the tree is in full bloom, like now. The flowers cover the trees and not a leaf is in sight, helping to mentally lighten the heat wave that seems to have enveloped the city.
Tabebuia trees grow tall and do not require much water to thrive. As the leaves fall before the buds begin to show, the seed pods of the previous year split and throw the winged seeds all over the area below the tree.
Plants play holi
If planted in soft soil, with compost added to it, the seeds will germinate easily and grow into young saplings, which can be spread across the city's parks and pavements.
“These trees flower the best if they are not watered excessively,” says Vasanth Kumar, former director, Department of Horticulture. “That is why they make good pavement trees though they do not have a large canopy like the rain tree.”
The trunk is dry and brittle and its root strength is not very good to hold it in severe storms, but it luckily does not suffer from any pests. “We planted our tree as a sapling ten years ago on the pavement and it still does not have a huge canopy, but it assures the area of a stunning flower show during this season faithfully, year after year,” he adds.
Jacaranda mimosaefolia or the wild almond tree has been part of the Bangalore landscape for decades. One of the most beautiful garden trees, the tree lives on in some of Bangalore's old and large gardens.
Again a Brazilian beauty, the tree is covered with blue/ mauve flowers and below the tree a carpet of the flowers makes the sight a painter's delight. The flowers are about five centimetres long and bell shaped. Each spray of flowers can carry around ninety blossoms but they will not live in a vase if they are cut and kept inside the house. Since this tree is not planted in the newer layouts in comparison to the tulip tree, check them out in bloom in the older areas of Bangalore.
Notice a blue blur in the distance as you come up to the tree, it is a fabulous sight against the golden yellow of the Tabebuia argentea. Its leaves too are fine and ferny and the tree blooms for a short period between early March to mid April. Specimens of the same tree growing in California were as large and stunning as the ones growing here in Bangalore.
Specimens in Australia are large and striking and bloom in October. In fact, the city of Brisbane has a large population of Jacaranda and the city of Grafton is known as the Jacaranda city.
In a recent research conducted by Harini Nagendra of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) on the impact of street tree canopies on mitigating environmental pollution and buffering microclimatic variations in the city, she found that besides serving an ornamental purpose, these trees are important to help decrease the sky rocketing pollution levels in the city.
Plant a jacaranda or a Tabebuia argentea and nurture it for six months, then enjoy the beauty of its blooms year after year on your pavement. You will also contribute to reducing the rapidly rising carbon dioxide emissions in our city.MARIANNE DE NAZARETH