Sometimes I wonder that if impressionist artists like Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cezanne were to paint the trees of Chandigarh, which ones would they choose! Surely Van Gogh would have abandoned his passion for sun flowers and chosen the radiant yellow orbs of tecoma trees; Monet would have preferred the lilac-white dreamscapes of jacaranda trees over lilies and Cezanne inspired to paint the feathery greens of silver oaks!
More than 66 years ago when the layout plan of Chandigarh was evolved, its legendary architect-planner Le Corbusier, along with Dr M S Randhawa, included landscaping as an integral part of the city fabric. No wonder then, spring is a many-splendored season in the City Beautiful. Its gardens are redolent with the colour and aroma of flowers and blossoms. Flowering trees are a riot of pink, lilac and bright red.
However, the harbingers of spring in the city are the semul trees. Tall, strapping with branches jutting out from the stem, these trees shed off all leaves in January and early February big bouquets of crimson flowers appear. But the most spectacular display is by the tecoma, commonly called the silver trumpet trees. They first shed off their dusty small leaves and then metamorphose into radiant yellow bunches of flowers.
As spring ripens into summer, one notices a sprinkling of “gold” on the tall, ramrod trees silver oak trees dotting Chandigarh’s landscape. Golden flowers adorn their dark green, feathery leaves.
A unique breathtaking sight is flowering trees of the flame of the forest visible in the city forests. Their eye-catching presence makes the city residents nostalgic about the native trees and their beauty, once growing profusely on the original city site.
Jacaranda or neeli gulmohar, is one of the many flowering trees during the spring. It’s covered with a full canopy of violet-blue blossoms with no leaf at all.
A few trees like the pikhan and the kusum have a peculiar trait of profuse leaf fall during March. It’s a remarkable sight to view an entire vista of pilkhans or kusums in this season as each tree is at a different stage of leaf change.
Cities without the panorama of nature are merely dehumanised settlements. Chandigarh is lucky to escape the urban blight assailing our cities in the country.
Let’s preserve this legacy of landscaping in the ‘City of Blossoms’.