FLOWERS USED IN LANDSCAPING
Growing population, rapid urbanization and changing climate have created a global challenge to meet food and nutritional and cleaner environmental needs. Rapid urbanization is not only taking place in larger cities, but satellite towns are growing, competing for food, water, transport and above all adding to pollution of the environment. Minimizing these impacts through adaptive measures is therefore unavoidable. Action is needed now to steer urban dwellers. We need to think more sustainable approaches by bringing all the development agencies to create more resilient cities. Growing native plants in urban areas is one such approach to create more functional landscapes.
Native plants have evolved and adapted to local conditions over thousands of years. They are vigorous and hardy, so can survive all adverse climatic conditions. Thus native plants suit today’s interest in “low maintenance” gardening and landscaping. The diversity of native plants includes interesting flowers and foliage. Native shrubs and trees provide a variety of heights, shapes and textures in the landscape. There are several non traditional and un exploited species are available in nature. Plants, from their natural habitats can be selected for the beautification of parks, public and private places in urban as well as in rural areas.
The Indian subcontinent holds prominence as one of the twelve regions of diversity in crop plants in global perspective. All known types of agro climatic, ecologic and edaphic conditions are met within India. India is one of the 12 mega biodiversity countries in the world. Two of the worlds 18 biodiversity hotspots are located in the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas. India is rich in all the three levels of biodiversity-such as species diversity, genetic diversity and habitat diversity. There are about 426 bio mes representing different habitat diversity that gave rise to one of the richest centers in the world for plant genetic resources. The total number of flowering plant species is 17,000, the intraspecific variability found in them make it one of the highest in the world.
In spite of great biodiversity, the floricultural Industry of India concentrates mostly on the non-native plant species. We lack information on scientific and technical knowledge about potential wild ornamental plant species indigenous to india. No comprehensive work has been carried out on the assessment of variations in different populations of potential species and their improvement and ex-situ multiplication. National Bureau of Plant Genetic resources (NBPGR), Delhi and National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow are working on conservation and sustainable utilization of the wild genetic resources. NBPGR is mainly a germplasm collection center concentrating on the crop species and the NBRI has broad objectives and working on various areas starting from the wasteland development to the plant biotechnology.
Western Ghats of India, one of the eight hottest spots of the world is known for its rich biodiversity. Western Ghats harbor about 4000 flowering plants which includes ornamental trees, shrubs, climbers, herbs, succulents, of which only few are utilized to some extent for their economic values. There is a need to identify new ornamental species suitable for landscape gardening. As part of the study, for sustainable utilization and conservation of these important resources, efforts are made in the form of exploration collection domestication and evaluation. Our plant introduction project includes also several native plants, which have not been introduced into commercial cultivation yet.
The introduction projects include many research stages, starting with the collection of the plants in their native habitat and finalizing when the product is introduced commercially. The native ornamental were collected from northern parts of western ghats, domesticated and evaluated for their potential as a landscape ornamental. Among them following plants were suitable for landscape purpose are, Jasmin ummalabaricum, Artemesia Nilgai Rica, Artemisia japonica, lavendula wii, ixora parviflora, Senecio Bombayensis, Senecio Belgaumenis, Clematis gouriana and Lepturus Radicans ferns, ground orchids, small shrub and trees. In an another project we have domesticated about 56 species from Biligiri Rangana Hills. It lies at a spot where the Eastern and Western Ghats meet and create a diverse ecosystem. And is known for its diverse species of flora and fauna. The hills are covered with more than 800 species of plant life, including scrub, dry deciduous, moist deciduous, shoal forests and montane grasslands.
This information has given very encouraging results and clearly demonstrated adaptability of native plants is significantly superior to introduced plants for landscaping. Cost effective, environment friendly and economical landscaping is possible. Abundant scope and opportunity to breed promising material for different needs of landscape to cater needs of domestic market.
To conserve biodiversity is urbanized areas, the increased use of native plant species in designed landscapes needs to be introduced. A major challenge to scaling up the use of native species in landscaping is providing ornamental plants that are both ecologically functional and economically viable. Environmental restoration, through native plants must be introduced in to managed landscapes. Sustainability, biodiversity and low maintenance are the current trends in landscape designing. We need to rethink about the sustainability while designing green spaces and landscape gardens in the cities. Because they are not only aesthetically appealing but more functional in supporting the diversity.