MANY people grew up having to sit under a tree to listen to folk stories from their grandparents. Each homestead had such a tree and it was the family’s favourite spot, particularly during summer.Trees play a pivotal role in the African culture.
When we create our gardens, it is important to choose the right trees, whether in the rural or urban setting.
Select trees based on the shade it gives (whether it is deciduous or evergreen), the flowers it produces to beautify your garden or because of the fruit it produces.
Amazingly, each tree consumes a tonne of carbon dioxide each year whilst each person produces 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, which means we need nothing short of 10 trees in an area for each person.
On a hot day, a tree will produce 2000 litres of water through evapotranspiration — that is the cooling effect — which is equivalent to 10 air conditioners running 20 hours a day.
Trees must not be a nuisance to your neighbours, this could be a lawsuit waiting to happen as trees with big roots can lift your neighbour’s durawall or tarmac.
Trees must not attract unpopular bird life or produce poisonous flowers, berries and leaves.
Since trees are a long term investment, it is important to establish what you seek from them and then choose accordingly or consult a specialist.
Some trees need their male or female counterparts to be of much value to you.
Generally, you can classify your trees according to their sizes; from small, medium, to large trees.
If your yard is very small, there is no logic in planting a very large tree which will need regular pruning with specialised equipment and professionals so as not to damage your valuable property.
You also need to go indigenous as there are many advantages in doing this. Indigenous trees have evolved in their habitat to survive better and promote the existence of natural bird or animal life. They also do not threaten the supplies of our groundwater.
Small trees include the bauhinia petersiana, syzygium jambos, acacia karoo, dais cotinifolia, rothmannia manganjae and securidaca longepedunculata.
Medium to large trees include the albizia adianthifolia, bracyhystegia spiciformis, cordia abyssinica, ficus craterostoma, rauvolfia caffra, trichilia dregeana, erythrina lysistemon and spathodea campanulata.
The leopard tree, (caesalpinia ferrea), is a medium-sized fine specimen.
Great trees to choose from include the acacia abyssinica or the umbrella thorn, a tree from eastern highlands of Zimbabwe.
Visit the Botanic gardens to see the majestic flat top of this tree.
The albizia gummifera, also from the eastern highlands, is equally good. It is an evergreen forest tree, which has a gorgeous flat top as well.
These are large trees that need enough space.
Peltophorum africanum or the African wattle is another indigenous relic, especially when it produces its yellow flowers.
Enjoy the many years that your tree will give you in your garden.
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