Weddings are normally followed by family visits. A new family member is always a person of interest. What’s s/he like? Does s/he feel comfortable and all settled in? Getting to know the new family addition shoots up to the #1 trending event in the family bulletin. Invitations start pouring in by the minute. It’s exciting – visiting new places, meeting new people and getting to know some fun stories. Perks are travel and an overload of delish dishes!
So, we reserved a day of every weekend to make the rounds. On one such expedition to Notun Kaka’s place at Shibpur, we decided to visit the Botanical Garden after lunch. Oh boy, was it amazing!
Turns out, Botanical Garden is the Holy Grail of greenery.
The garden is spread across 109 hectares and is home to more than 12000 plants species. Even the most untrained of eyes can spot a wide variety of orchids, mushroom, bamboo etc.
It had been raining every day for a few days before we visited. The frequent downpours had coloured the place lush green. The plants had grown as Mother Nature desired them to – unkempt and wild.
The Garden had a couple of paths leading to its core. We took the one lined with palm trees on both sides. It was peaceful out there. All I could hear were our footsteps and birds chirping. I breathed in the freshness and calmness around me. Nothing had felt so pure. The path was dotted with palm fruits that had fallen off the trees and landed wherever they pleased.
Have you heard the story of the Lady Coco de mer palm tree in this garden? Commonly known as Double Coconut, she was brought from Seychelles in 1884. It wasn’t until 1988 when she flowered for the first time. Since then she has flowered regularly and has been living a healthy life. But a sadness plagued her. There were no male species in the neighbourhood and as a result, she couldn’t come to fruition. She oozed fertility and beauty, but her prince was nowhere around.
For 4 years, there was no hope. Until a team of botanists decided to artificially pollinate her using pollens from the Botanical Garden in Sri Lanka. They packed the pollens in ice boxes and transported them carefully to the garden just when the flowering had begun. The pollens were introduced to the flowers and they were covered with a cloth. Then they waited. Unfortunately, nothing happened. 6 years passed like this. But there was no fruit.
Lady Coco de mer couldn’t give birth. She was healthy but without child. Maybe the Gods had willed her to be this way. But the botanists were adamant. They found out that there were 48 male species of the palm at Nongnooch Tropical Garden in Thailand. So, they contacted the Royal Thai government and arranged for the pollen transportation. When the time was just right, the pollen was again introduced to the flowers and the flowers were covered with cloth. Everybody said their prayers and waited. Days passed. Nothing happened. Until one day they found fruits! Lady Coco de mer had finally borne fruits! She couldn’t be happier. Two of the fruits have now grown big in her love and care. She looks at them proudly as they grow bigger.
The Gods had been kind to her after all.
Unfortunately, I do not have the picture of Lady Coco de mer. What I do have are the pictures of the maze of greens around me.
Some of the ponds have become covered in algae. There were gigantic water lilies that looked like dishes. There were beautiful flowers around too.
While walking through the labyrinth of trees, we came to a clearing that led us to the Great Banyan Tree. This 256-year old crowdpuller is spread across 14,500 square metres! The main trunk was removed way back in 1925 since it decayed. In its place, stands an installation in its memory. However, it is survived by its family of more than 3600 healthy aerial roots. These prop roots continue to grow even today in the direction of the sunlight. The tree has already outgrown its fencing once and by the look of it on our visit, it’s soon to outgrow the second fencing too. This has gained it its nickname, ‘The Walking Tree’.
The Garden is home to numerous species of birds, snakes and other animals. We spotted quite a few birds but couldn’t take pictures of them all since they were in a hurry to get away from us.
Time flew in the Garden faster than the falcon. It was slowly getting dark and the guards had come out to guide the visitors to the gate and get us to quicken our pace. We took a toto back home.
Come to think of it, it isn’t until we get to be up, close and personal with Nature that we realize that there are way bigger superpowers at play than we can even begin to understand.