Puttenahalli Lake Stories

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Once in a while our best laid plans go awry at the lake. For instance, from the time the lake was getting rejuvenated in early 2010, we had reserved a prime space for a Red-Silk Cotton tree (Bombax ceiba). It is deciduous but the flowers more than make up for the absence of leaves. The beautiful bright red flowers attract birds in hordes. They visit not just for the nectar but also for the water that collects in the cup like flower. But it seemed impossible to get a sapling. Finally, Mr. Ramachandran, a regular visitor to the lake got us a packet of seeds from the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun!
In our enthusiasm, we planted the seeds directly in the soil instead of soaking them first. Out of 10 or 15, two sprouted. We planted one ceremoniously in the reserved site and waited for it to grow and flower. It did but what do you know, the flowers were white! It was a Ceiba pentandra  and not Bombax ceiba
By the time it flowered, it had already become a young giant. Apparently, the Kapok tree can grow up to 150 ft! Fortunately, the space should be enough. Let it grow and flower all it wants. We’ve shifted our hope to another silk cotton we’d planted some years ago. It is yet to flower. To be on the  safer side, Mr. Ramachandran got another batch of seeds, this time insisting on Bombax ceiba. For want of space, we have kept the seeds safe.
White silk cotton, Jan 2018
Space constraint for trees led us to think of planting vines. Climbers on the fence, we knew, would invariably flower outside and not share their glory within the premises. We decided to put up a pergola. Out of three designs, we chose one by Mayapraxis. Grants from  Misys and VMWare gave us a pergola that, by the looks of it, will outlast even the youngest among us, trustees.
We needed three species of climbers which Nupur and I chose and planted in Feb. 2018. Her favourite was Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata, “Kaurav Pandav”) while mine was Indian Clock vine (Thunbergia mysorensis). Our mutual preference was for Clematis terniflora (Sweet autumn clematis). To my delight, the Clock vine quickly climbed and began to spread. Exactly as we had imagined, the flowers drooped from the height but they were red and small, not shell like maroon and yellow! It was Thunbergia all right but coccinea not mysorensis!
Thunbergia mysorensis, Oct 2018
We recover from these googlies quickly because, well, one beauty is replaced with another. It is not so easy to reconcile with shocks humans give us. Recently a gentleman telephoned and posed question after another. The only one for which I had no answer was this: “But why do you want birds at the lake?”
Ouch!

About Usha Rajagopalan 73 Articles
The author is a trustee of PNLIT.

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