Ashrama Gardens urban evergreen jungle inspires and endorses Billion Trees and Beyond - 72 Trees (Episode # 200 -# 271)
It is hoped that Billion Trees and Beyond will become an ocean of activism for greener earth eventually. Oceans are formed by the culmination of rivers. Rivers can be traced back to rivulets, one of them serves as the main flow, and when you trace it further, there will be a humble flow from a point, empowered by an eternal spring, in India, people revere such sources as divine and treat them as the sanctum sanctorum.
At this time, Billion Trees and Beyond is attempted as a social start up by me, it is hoped that it will eventually grow to take the global theater of actions for greener earth, the pending institutionalization will fuel such possibilities, and hopefully the emerging new leaderships will push the agenda to such heights eventually.
But, right now, everything is in a humble infancy stage, and therefore the main flow is distinct, so is the original spring acting as the sacred source of this flow. Ashrama Gardens urban evergreen jungle is the sanctum sanctorum of this movement so far, and I will be very glad to lose this distinction sooner.
Ashrama Gardens is spread out around a humble home called Ashrama in a 2400 sq. ft. of corner site in a locality called Vivekanandanagar in Banashankari 3rd stage, Bengaluru. The terrace garden efforts started in year 2010, the urban evergreen jungle vision took shape in approx. year 2012. Yes, it is not called as "Urban Jungle", rather "Urban EverGreen Jungle", to avoid confusion with concrete jungle of urban reality. In fact, Ashrama Gardens is surrounded by far more imposing urban concrete jungles, hence its contrast is bit disturbing and intriguing.
Ashrama Gardens has been a living lab to conceptualize and develop the "Urban EverGreen Jungle" principles. The key principles are maintained in the Facebook group dedicated for the concept in development and progression, and the following are the excerpts from the group discussion as on Oct 25, 2018:
This group is to promote the concept and practice of urban evergreen jungle throughout the world. The principles of urban evergreen jungle are as follows:
1. Maximum green coverage per urban sq feet
2. Bio diversity including all plants, birds, animals, insects and all other beings, In the age of species going extinct, position our private and pubic urban space as a refuge and sanctuary for maximum number and type of beings to survive and proliferate across partnering spaces through exchanges.
3. Organic way of cultivation with no pesticides, chemicals etc, promotion of permaculture
4. Leveraging urban setups for conservation and sustainable way of life leading to increased harmony in our life
5. Maximize utility value in terms of food, medicine, bio products, shade, oxygen etc to all beings, not just humans
6. Waste management by converting all organic waste into compost and practicing integrated waste management
7. Integrate gardening, forestry, agriculture into one artistic practice towards sustainability and harmony!
8. And most importantly transforming our urban spaces especially homes and all other buildings and structures into a green space that deserves to be called as jungle!
9. Assist individuals, families, communities, institutions and agencies to benefit from the intentional urban green cover at all levels, commercially, ecologically, culturally, emotionally and spiritually!
10. Foster Urban EverGreen Jungle as a vibrant hobby leading to multiple type of engagements integrating the jungle to the very life style of the individual / family/ community: eg. cooking, plant medicine, pets management, garden photography, healing etc. etc.
Urban EverGreen Jungle Facebook Group link
Ashrama Gardens has completed six years of efforts and growth as on now. The learning from this humble experiment is documented as a set of YouTube videos, mainly as a source of education, inspiration, and at least a mere documentation of efforts to cover the ugly concrete jungle of our home into something more sacred and elegant.
Tricks to develop an urban evergreen jungle around and on our home! - A set of humble YouTube videos
The terrace portion of the jungle is developed by attempting container based trees and the hovering of green cover from the trees or creepers coming up from the ground surrounding the building. The building as is relatively old (Built in 1987) and fragile (Only ground flour, no concrete pillars, all the weight needs to be supported by the brick walls). The terrace went through a waterproofing layer in year 2010. The fire ants damages to the terrace (burrows made by the fire ants around the cracks that appear on the top suruki layer of the terrace - could cause mild water seepage) are being regularly fixed by pouring only cement to close the burrows. The rain water and excess water seeping from the containers are made to be drained down to the ground below with no clogging. The site as such is rain harvested 100% since year 2003. (All the rain water is made to be absorbed by the ground at three sides of the site). The plants are fed through the regular BWSSB drinking water supply (there is no bore-well), the water consumption of home use alone is 20K liters per month, in rainy season garden demands no water for 2 months, and has been 27K liters per month at the highest peak of a summer, but has come down to 22K liters max in the last summer, thanks to improvements in the container formats and the water loss limitations through increasing green cover.
Because of lack of pillar, all the plant and container weights are either distributed on the walls or on the periphery close to the walls. Lack of concrete structure has limited the number of containers (approx. 160) and trees attempted in the approx. terrace space of 1500 sq feet. There is approx. 400 sq. feet of ground gardens inside the compound, and another approx. 400 sq. feet of ground /container garden around the compound and by the road side.
Though Ashrama Gardens is a bold attempt, it still is a humble representation of what wonders we can do enhance the elegance of our ugly urban concrete jungles. It is hoped that people draw confidence and inspirations not only to repeat this attempt, go beyond and put this example to total shame!
Since the terrace jungle had to be laid out around the load bearing walls, a walking track has been formed which has rendered this into a walking park. There are instances where I had continuous 2 hours of meditative walks with music through earphones, and such experiences are not only rejuvenating and inspiring, the holistic life style influenced by the urban evergreen jungle is deeply fulfilling and uplifting. The elegance emerging from various corners of the jungle on a daily basis not withstanding, I had to cultivate a garden photography hobby, ended up taking snapshots on a regular basis, made short videos of the same in order to share this elegance with others on a regular basis. This influenced the genesis of a dedicated Facebook page called Ashrama Gardens.
Ashrama Gardens Facebook Page Link
Garden photography has been exploited based on a set of principles summarized in the picture below:
All the resulting 345+ photo videos have been showcased through the following YouTube video playlists:
Ashrama Gardens Photo Video # 0301 - 0400
Ashrama Gardens Photo Video #0201 - #0300
Ashrama Gardens Photo Video #0101 - 0200
Ashrama Gardens Photo Video - First 100 Videos
Once in a while, certain breath taking incidents occur, and I was fortunate to capture some of them, which are maintained as a YouTube video playlist as follows:
Ashrama Gardens Exclusive Videos!
It is very fulfilling to note that approx. 50 varieties of butterflies have visited our jungle, I consider them as the angels who visit to sing praises for this humble effort. I am able to capture at least 70% of such visitors through photography so far.
In the beginning of year 2017, the entire terrace jungle was re-engineered from plastic bags based jungle to a predominantly recycled plastic container based jungle. The jungle is still recuperating from the transplantation shock towards returning to and exceeding the earlier glory. While observing the jungle's progress in this regard, I noticed that the jungle is also a performing art, a dynamic dance between the nature and the human. So, have attempted to document the monthly changes of the jungle through its 7*24 non stop dance across all 365 days of the year with no breaks and vacations.
Ashrama Gardens Urban EverGreen Jungle Dynamics Status Reports
The success of the Ashrama Gardens urban evergreen jungle is beyond my original expectations and I am very humbled because one can do much better than this as I am so far constraining myself to certain limitations of our living quarters. But, the message is loud and clear, everyone in this universe, especially the ones imprisoned in the urban concrete jungles deserve this liberation and fulfillment, and an eternal paradise filled with elegance, love, compassion, joy and the flight of the spirit upward. That requires me to do two things, one to do my best to extend the benefits of urban evergreen jungle to any deserving corner in this universe, and second to team with delightful angels all over the world who rejoice in doing the same anywhere in the universe. Hence the genesis of Billion Trees and Beyond.
Hope, by now you understand, why it is a very emotional moment for me to endorse the Billion Trees and Beyond with the accounting of trees from our humble jungle here. The necessary details as follows:
Total number of trees: (72) - Episode # 200 - 271
Thunbergia - 5
Drumstick - 1
Night Queen -1
Bamboo - 2
Twisted trunk tree - 1
Pongemia - 1
Mexican Sunflower - 42 more (over the ones already reported earlier)
Coral Vine - 1
Mulbery - 2
Seeme Hunise - 1
Wild Fig - 1
Tamarind - 1
Hebbevu - 1
Bettada Tavare type flower - 1
Singapore Cherry - 10
Trees planted during: 2010 - Now
Trees planted by: Nataraja Upadhya
Trees care by: Nataraja Upadhya
Tree type plants in our jungle,but not accounted as per the Billion Trees and Beyond Guidelines (for reasons of height, plantation older than 10 years, life period) : Approx. 50
Trees location: Ashrama Gardens (Map location)
Motherhood is the most fulfilling experience one gets to endure in this universe. (Yes, it is better than sex). While the females are most fortunate to experience this as part of the regular progression of their life cycle, embracing, caring and cultivating nature is the next best option available for all the beings in this universe and this needs to be fully exploited especially now when the modern civilization excess is pushing us to the brim of colossal disasters we do not deserve to endure in the near future ahead. (Refer specific TED Talks by the nature scientists as to how the perfect storm is developing around us, and what we can do to stop it from happening). We do not need to embrace nature and sustainable life style as a burden of duty, rather a self expression of passion, love, compassion, friendship, freedom and rejoice. It is much easier than it sounds, the benefits are far more than projected and indicated. We humans deserve to continue to march ahead towards the elusive Utopia (as this balances against our natural affinity to decadence) , we need to mature to distinguish the illusions and misgivings holding us against our progress towards it, but most importantly than that, we need to leverage our gifts, gifts of the nature, through our body, mind, heart and spirit, both within us, and around us for such a sincere effort. When billions align towards such a move, the permanent paradise descends. Well, the billions need millions, millions need thousands, thousands need to start with one, self (me, you, all others included).
Ashrama Gardens UrbanEverGreen jungle is a humble but sincere effort of one individual, a proven idiot, me. Its limited success has inspired in me, the most audacious, ambitious and outright crazy love and hope for the entire humanity ahead of my time, in the form of Billion Trees and Beyond. Whatever may be the ultimate results, during or beyond my time, the whole effort is totally uplifting in this paradise called earth, the ultimate mother who cares for us irrespective of our misgivings, serving her only helps us better, ultimately to experience the most high one can experience in this universe, the high of motherhood, the ultimate ecstasy our body, mind, heart and spirit deserve to experience all together and spread to others too who equally deserve. Billion Trees and Beyond will be one such platform among the millions around. You are most welcome to join this frenzy and have your fun your way, influencing the emergence of our way for the longer term and vision.
Billion Trees and Beyond is therefore going back to the tight embrace with the spirit of Mother, and to elevate our-self also as an ultimate mother for all concerned. Yes, it sounds scary, but it will be all fun and fulfilling. Our efforts can start small and humble, but beyond a point, the spirit takes over, one can then simply sit and enjoy the ride of roller-coaster while it lasts and repeats all over again and again.
Though it sounds self promoting, it is imperative that I submit the humble efforts of Urban EverGreen jungle as an endorsement to the Billion Trees and Beyond, the sourcing spirit around this act is the spirit of motherhood, and today is the anniversary of departure of my mother, who really never left my heart, and as I have cultivated her eternal presence in my heart into my realities around, has helped me tap the same from the spirit domain, and now is inspiring me to take it to the entire universe to experience the same spirit of the entire universe as the Ultimate mother, where my personal mother has already merged not only physically (before), in all other sense (by now).
Ashrama Gardens urban evergreen jungle experience has guided me into the paradise of the spirit of the ultimate mother, the mother Earth, and I hope that the Billion Trees and Beyond will become a unique journey for all concerned to discover and rejoice the same.