I met Katy Rustom through this blog, and took the first opportunity to visit the wonderful biodiversity garden her organization CERE has started at Tanveera near Alibaug in Maharashtra together with the Shapoorji Pallonji Group and the Raigad Zilla Parishad .Named Shapoorji Palonji Native Biodiversity Garden, this piece of greenery in a semi-urban situation is literally a breath of fresh air and a serene place full of beauty and information. The entrance gates have sculptures of local butterflies ,and when you enter, you are greeted by the tall Deepmala- a traditional welcome by lamps.
The one acre garden has more than 700 varieties of plants collected from all over India. They are arranged in sections like sensory, medicinal, wetland, butterfly etc. There is a pond ecosystem comprising a beautiful lily pond. Although it was not the season, many plants were in flower like the Holmskoldia below .
I was surprised to see a ground cover of Melastoma , whose cuttings Katy graciously gave me.This is a flower of the Western Ghats.
Katy showing a rare tree in the garden. The garden nurtures and propagates many endangered native plants.
Large white flowers of the Vajradanti, which is used in Ayurveda for treatment of dental problems.
One of the most unusual trees I saw was Ficus benghalensis var. Krishnae, with the leaves forming pockets!
School children thronged the touch screen to find out about the plants and animals in the garden.I was happy to see so many school children visiting the garden and evincing keen interest in biodiversity.
Boys were more inerested in running through the mini maze hung with bells. Boys will be boys!
After a wonderful walk through the garden, we sat in the shade of a Bauhinia tree and wondered at the amount of hard work which must have gone into making this beautiful place.I hope there will be many more gardens of this kind.
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