I am new to this very interesting and active group. I am thrilled to know that there are people like you going around actively planting trees in your neighbourhoods. I would like to share a few scattered, random notes. I have carried these notes in my head for years, and I feel like sharing it with you since you might be able to appreciate them.
I grew up in a tree-lined old area of Bangalore. As a kid, on the way to school, I used to make it a point to "greet" two Akash mallige (Millingtonia hortensis) trees. I worshipped these two tall, graceful trees. Come September, their lovely white flowers lined the roads. Sadly enough, one of them was cut down to widen the road. I wonder how long they will let the other tree remain in the crowded streets of Malleshwaram.
I have been watching trees all my life. Due to this, I have developed this strange gait while walking...head tilted up slightly, with very little attention being paid to where I put my next step. I have often tripped, stepped on muck and bumped into people. My landmarks across Bangalore used to be trees...and I rarely remembered street names or other features. In the late 90s I moved out of Bangalore for a decade. And when I came back, I could not find my way around my home city. They had chopped down that lovely old Butea on 15th cross. Where were those Acacias on the way to school. Even those lovely temple trees in our neighbourhood gardens were gone.
Anyone who watches trees, cannot help but note the differences between our cities w.r.t trees we plant along the roadsides. New Delhi is one of my favourite urban zones. They have such lovely, tall native trees planted along the roads....Kusum /Sagade (Schleichera oleosa), Arjun (Terminalia arjuna), Amal Tas/ Kakke (Cassia fistula), Jamum (Syzygium cumini), Mango (Mangifera indica) and many others. Such native trees are home to many more animals compared to exotics (i.e., from other countries) such as Eucalyptus, Australian Acacias, Rain tree, African tulip tree which we have planted along Bangalore/Mysore's streets. A native tree has food to offer to our insects. These insects in turn are fed upon by several birds and mammals. Our natives have lovely flowers (Kakke, Flame of the forest etc), many provide wonderful shade (the list would be endless) and are easy to grow. Yet, urban forestry in Karnataka is monopolized by exotics.
My grandfather was a very observant and knowledgeable man. He too grew up in Bangalore. But the trees he remembers from his childhood in the same neighbourhood are very different from what I saw when I was a kid. He used to talk about Tare, Allale, Honne, Sampige, Margosa, Nandi (see picture attached - thats not a Eucalypt, but our lovely Nandi) and other lovely trees that grew here. Slowly, these were cut down as the city expanded. Later, some streets were planted with exotics such as Mahogony, Tabebuia, Rain tree, African tulip tree, Australian acacias and so on. Strangely enough, neither Margosa nor Sampige road in Malleshwaram have either of these trees lining them.
More recently, as part of my work, I have been studying forest trees in the Niligiri landscape. For this purpose, I had to collect seeds and make seedlings of several native species common in the Deccan plateau (see picture). It has been a wonderful experience getting familiar with these lovely trees of our forests. I have given away most of my seedlings to interested people in and around my study area. If any of you are interested in procuring and planting such natives in your streets, you can buy such seedlings from the Keystone shop in Masinagudi or Mavanalla. These are villages on the road to Ooty, and these shops are located on the highway itself.
If you want some inputs about how to identify and grow such native trees, I am always available. There is also vast quantity of literature (mostly contributed by Britishers who lived in India) on how to grow our trees.