By Vijay Thiruvady
Arboriculture is simply defined as the study, cultivation and management of trees and woody shrubs. It looks at individual trees rather than collective cultivation, such as orchard horticulture and silviculture.
Arboriculture in practice, involves individual tree selection, its transplantation, surgery and protection against insects and vermin.
The selection of trees is entirely dependent on the purpose of its growth. For example; trees can be grown entirely for shade; for fruits and seeds; for leaves and bark; for roots as medicine; for timber value and with Bengaluru as an example, for decorative and ornamental purposes (as avenue trees).
When individual trees are selected and brought from different locations; across the globe; and are planted together, we create a botanical garden. These trees can be for display or for research.
The focus on scientific arboriculture started with Mr. New, who came to Lalbagh in 1856. His research continued uninterrupted for over a centuary. Mr. Krumbiegel, succeeded Mr. New between 1908- 1932. He went from being a landscape designer to innovating different methods on using trees for a variety of purposes.
Krumbiegel landscaped and planted many Auracaria bidwilli, Castenospermumand Olive trees in Lalbagh. He also planted Castenospermumas an avenue tree from Chamaraja Wodeyar’s statue to Vittal Mallya circle in Cubbon Park. Using his knowledge in landscaping, he planted colourful avenue trees across Bengaluru, thus, giving a great boost to Arboriculture.
Subsequently, Mr. Jayaraya and Dr. Mari Gowda contributed substantially to dry land arboriculture throughout the State of Karnataka. This was particularly important for farmers who had no access to irrigation.
Bangalore has had a botanical garden with global plant introductions since 1850s’. But what stands out is that Bengaluru has successfully introduced this global diversity across the city; right from bunglows, to avenues, parks, public institutions and hotels like NIMHANS, IISc, West End Hotel, Palace grounds, numerous defence lands and estates. This has uniquely placed Bengaluru as the “city of arboriculture” on the map of India.
Sri Vijay Thiruvady is an expert on plants as well as the landscape history of Bangalore’s bygone eras. He is the author of Heritage Trees in and around Bangalore. He also leads the Green Heritage walks at Lalbagh.