Category Archives: Plant for My Life

Modernization and Loss of Biodiversity

In the city and the villages that surrounded it where I grew up,  almost anything that one throws away grows (Plants and Seeds) on its own provided they did not rot away due to too much water.

There was no need to water plants and like a clockwise fashion rain did come in 10 to 14 day cycles even in the dry season.

Inter-monsoon rain was regular and now I understand and believe that the vegetation itself fashion this rain and its cycles. 

More trees mean more regular  inter-monsoon rain. 
Less trees means less rain, for sure, inter-monsoon period.

I lived for short period in Kurunegala and we moved there since doctors advised my father to move out to reduce the recurrence of wheezy episodes I had in Kandy, when very young.

I moved back and never had any problems and the problems were probably, related to growing up and poor nutrition, I ponder now.

That is just to restate the damply state of affairs of my city, yesteryear.

Even Kurunegala the weather, then, when compared to as it is now with lot of vegetation and coconut trees was very mild with more frequent dry spells than in Kandy.

Now we are going through perennial failure of rain and even the rain fails in the upcountry regions where the most of the hydroelectric  power plants are located.

All these are related to modernization and clearing up of scanty vegetation for what we call development. It is going to get worse and there is no master plan to arrest it except adding more vulnerable projects including coal power plants.

Coal Power Plants will cause irreversible damage to our eco-system and by the time it is recorded by scientific pundits I would have been long gone (Dead wood sitting on a cremation site) but I hope somebody will trace back to year 2005 where I started voicing this on a regular basis in the web.

It would have been earlier had it not been for the slow pace of development of the web but the slow pace of the printed paper of course accelerated my efforts.

Now I have made it a pastime and I study what I call the “my sphere of activity” (very limited indeed) and its observation and I want everybody who is versed in biology (or not) would contribute to this type of observations and record since we cannot believe the government and will never make any worthwhile consideration (except pass legislation they, themselves violate with political patronage and impunity) to this effort since politicians and their stooges won’t understand their policy impact on mother nature.

Like the mess we have inherited with cricket after 1996 and filling up an ancient tank and building a cricket ground on it is the classic example of the idiocy of our policy makers cricket or otherwise.

We are set for power cuts in spite of thermal power added to the system.

Now if I do not water the plants including water plants they will dry up and wilt away in as short as three days.
Unfortunately there is nobody to help me with a little background knowledge in biology to look after my plants.

If I go out for a short holiday for two weeks abroad all the plants I have collected over the period of a decade will be no more.
I am late in using my power of observation since when we were young we did not have to worry about plants wilting away.
The observation period is over 25 years.
This started rapidly from 1975 when plantation section was nationalized.
Everything I observe is in the direction of loss of bio-diversity.
The little exotic (I have lost all the orchids) plants I have now if I do not replant will be lost, if not in the wild, but in my garden which is very very tiny.
Lot in my neighbourhood has changed and except for the remaining jack-tree and the breadfruit tree (which is gradually dieing) which stand tall, all the other trees have been felled by the owners and all the tree shade/s we have now is / are less than 20 years old.
Glad to say I have contributed to many of the remaining ones with a few exotic palm trees in that lot.
None of them were for commercial value but for shear beauty of their presence in my garden.
Now I have to make a significant observation and this writing was prompted by need to emphasize that.
We live in a small hill (in the middle) not very step but the road now we use is where the waste water ran down and I believe there was a little stream trickling (probably during the heavy rainy season) down and the underground water table is very near the surface with solid rocks on top and we were without pipe born water and we had to dig a well for our daily use.
It took another 10 years to get the pipe born water and with my friends who were engineers (they worked hard) were instrumental in the Nilambe Project from which present politicians in the city steal water when they come for a respite from Colombo.
Particular president made sure he gave connections only to his partisans and I had to wait till he died for everybody in the area to get a regular water supply and that was the only time we had a president from the hill country.

Now what they do is surreptitiously divert our water to Kandy and elsewhere and depriving us at times of greater need.

Suffice is to say they never started a new scheme for a long period of time.
There was a natural shallow well at our level which we used liberally during the construction of the house and I used to take a bath on some days for pleasure.
There were plenty of fresh water crabs there (they are gone now) and I had saved couple of big crabs who landed on our low roof to safety who had escaped on flight from birds of prey. 
You should not believe that the crabs could fly on to my roof. Way our politicians travel by air I have to believe even frogs and crabs would learn to fly if they happen to be partisan with politicians, with or without wings.
The whole place is dry now in spite of ancient minor stream long long time ago.
We came to this area when water was becoming scarce but there was still some underground water, left.
Now to my point and re-directing my thoughts and the reason why I came this far.
1. I said I live in the middle.
2. The road was once where there would have been a minor stream now totally dry.
3. Unlike those days which I drove a car I walk up the road for my exercise which is my workout and the day I cannot walk up the road I would retire from this world for good and do not need a bypass or a borrowed organ or two to live
as a living destitute.
4. Unlike those days (it was a brisk walk,then) now I take my time to watch the flora and fauna (now dogs and cats only and a few birds).
5. I one day notice the flowers of the seeds I tried to grow in my plot but could not on the wayside at the beginning which is the ground zero level.
5. Seeds that I used to get sometimes from abroad are germinating in not my plot of land but in the plot of land at the bottom.
6. All the seed I put at the middle level could have got washed away and settle at the lowest level.
7. Strangest of my observations was a white flower (I got the seeds from botanical garden and tried to grow in our plot but never succeeded). Very pleasant surprise and the owners had left to Canada over 20 years ago and that house is still empty and once in 5 years somebody cleans it up and there was no way the cleaner (not a gardener) had planted it.
Few of them are still there.
8. Same day I went to the botanical garden from where I got the seeds (from the hanging runners coming over the fence). To my horror those runners have all gone, no flowers and dried up stems were seen in a tall tree.
I think I did some honours to the Botanical garden for picking few seeds (which I never was able to see  flowering in my garden) and spread in my garden which had got washed away and landed on a foreign soil where nobody was living now.
9. The sense of sympathetic joy was overwhelming and that is why I have to pen it down here.
10. I now remember, just couple of meters away there was an exotic plant and on a rainy day dug up the yams and I now have an enormous collection (personal favorite) of it in my roof garden.
This Sunday when I walk up I will be picking up some seeds from that flower and then try again to germinate them, and perhaps I might even donate it to the botanical garden chief (previous one was a good friend of mine and I never asked him for any exotic plants except those on sale.
The present one when I met, I suggested  he should start selling water plants (which has become a monopoly of a selected few) and I am glad to say he has obliged and there are a few new guys doing water plants in Kandy now.
I should now go for cuppa tea and wind up after stating from whom I learned the secret of throwing seeds all over the foot path (by accident) where I walk, now, though ambling.
It was my wife’s grandma.
She had the habit of spreading the seeds all over the garden and I used to pull most of them out to get some order in the garden. She was a sweet lady and she needed flowers for her daily offering to Buddha and we had at least 5 varieties almost everyday.
Now she and her daughter and my mother all gone we cannot pluck two varieties on a single day.
Strangely enough my roof top garden has three to six including three varieties of Jasmine which I grow (a trick I learned from her) in the memory of my mother who died well past 90 (and the other two ladies too I fondly remember when I see these flowers).
I wish I should not live that long since then there won’t be any birds or wild flowers to smell in this blessed island.
But as long as I could walk up the footpath (any footpath, for that matter) I am going to pluck dry flowers and spread the seeds like birds do.
I don’t care where they start germinating and like a good Buddhist I have to lose attachment to any worldly thing including flowers from now onward.
In this scenario I differ slightly from Buddhist virtues.
I want our great great grandchildren to have a reminder of the old times not of my photographs but some beautiful and fragrant flowers which we are losing by the day.
We do not have bees and the the little innocent black variety which were there for over 20 years and they come collect honey from my tiny water plants.

20 years ago there was a seed i tried to germinate by various mean but never could.Then one day I asked the lab assistant who was a keen gardener and my patient till he died when nearing 90 told me that the seeds crack when there is intense heat and then when the rain comes it germinate and if i soak the seeds it will rot.
Just today I picked up three of those plants to pot before they are run by the three wheelers. The road now finished with concrete to lure the voters get heated up and the seeds on either side crack and germinate.
Suffice it to say all the seeds coming from a plant / tree my mother in law planted.
When generation take the exit pathway like in America we will have only commercial growers and mono-culture.