The banyan tree is central to several Asian religions including Hinduism & Buddhism. Banyan refers to many species of fig, but most specifically to the Indian banyan, Ficus benghalensis. Banyans also serve a practical purpose, as a shady place for merchants to meet – banya is from the Gujarati word for trader. The epiphytic tree starts by wrapping itself around a host tree before plunging roots into the ground – a convenient metaphor for forces beyond human control, or struggle more generally. The banyan is sacred to Buddhists as a place of reflection. After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha is said to have sat under a banyan for seven days, reflecting.
One of my favourite horticultural tasks during the winter months is sowing seeds giving a helping hand in bringing new plants into life!
Seeds come packaged by nature with their own food supply in the form of endosperm so the first thing to remember is that the compost mix needs to be low nutrient. A good universal seed germinating mix could consist of 50 % coir & 50% perlite or vermiculite to maintain an open structure & to increase water holding capacity in the compost. You could also add in some composted bark for extra structure.
It’s not often that you hear about one person who has single-handedly planted & nurtured a woodland as service to fellow human beings & wildlife. But Saalumarada Thimmakka is one such woman & still going strong at 105 years old!
Her woodland of native Ficus benghalensis (Banyan) trees in Karnataka, India bestows an invaluable gift for all her fellow villagers to benefit from & a legacy for future generations of all sentient life.
Saalumarada Thimmakkka – a Foundation has been created in her name to continue the inspirational work she started.
It never ceases to amaze me just how smart plants truly are. I marvel at their complexity, their feats of engineering & effortless artistry. Much can be learnt from these noble ancient lifeforms. The above, seemingly simple seed holds such complexity & potentiality for life is staggering.
I wish you could scratch & smell these photos!
Because, not only does this tree bear a spectacular autumnal display of golden heart-shaped leaves but it also gives off the most gorgeous distinctive ‘candy floss’ fragrance as you pass by these Japanese beauties.
I was fortunate enough to be in the presence of several Cercidiphyllum japonicum in the walled garden at Dunskey, all shimmering golden delight on a bright sunny autumnal day.