30-acre orchard in Lalbagh soon

30-acre orchard in Lalbagh soon

With an aim to preserve fruit species, the Lalbagh Botanical Garden in the heart of the city has began work to set up an arboretum on Wednesday.

The arboretum — a garden with various varieties of trees set up usually for educational and research purposes — will comprise of 1,500 plants drawn from 100 fruit species from across the globe. Veteran Sandalwood actor Leelavathi inaugurated the programme, which coincided with World Environment Day. The planting of the trees will be completed as early as possible.

The horticulture department collected seedlings for the trees from various sources and began planting them in the 30-acre space between the main gate and the west gate of the sprawling 240-acre botanical garden.

Until now, Lalbagh had just 12 varieties of fruit-bearing trees, which were lost to wind and other natural factors.

“Recently, we collected about 85 plants of 43 fruit-bearing varieties. We’ll further add 1,500 more plants drawn from 175 fruit-bearing varieties. Fifty-five of them will be native species, while the rest will be exotic fruits,” Dr M Jagadeesh, joint director (Parks and Gardens), horticulture department, told DH.

The trees will be money-spinners for the department, given the commercial value of the fruits they bear, and there is little surprise that the arboretum is christened ‘economic garden’. 

“The objective of raising the fruit-bearing trees is to support the park’s bird species. It’d also help the research of botanical students. Any visitor can get familiar with the tree species,” explained Lalbagh’s deputy director M R Chandrashekhar.

Among the desi varieties, there will be mango, sapota, custard apple, gooseberry, Ramphal, jamun and jackfruit, while the exotic fruits at the arboretum will be Rambutan, Dragon fruit, Longan, walnut, Loquat, Kiwi, avocado and apple, among others.

“Local conditions may not allow some varieties yield fruits. We tried cultivating apple trees, but the fruits were only the size of a marble. We’ll nonetheless have the trees and people can (at least) get themselves familiarised with it,” Jagadeesh explained. “Similarly, the kiwi fruits are borne by a creeper. The fruit orchard will be greatly help people learn about the trees.” 

The seedlings were collected from the Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR), private nurseries and plant explorers.

“A few are imported and a few others were donated by those who love Lalbagh. The plants may need meticulous care for six months, following which it would be regular maintenance,”  another official explained.

Officials hope the arboretum will be ready with the first yield in about four years.

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