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April
Mastery of tree planting in LCSD
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Flower lovers visiting the Hong Kong Flower Show would have appreciated the beauty of the special flower species from different countries.

Apart from the flower show which has just finished, people can also find in the Leisure and Cultural Services Department venues many plants which add colour to the four seasons and help green the city and the surroundings of the venues, such as parks and playgrounds, sports centres and sports grounds.

The department is responsible for managing and conserving some 720,000 trees of about 500 local and exotic species in its venues, roadside amenity areas, including bridges and slopes, and some government buildings. To add more greenery to the environment, the department plans to plant about 10,000 trees this year.

The department's Senior Leisure Manager (Horticulture) Mr Choi Lim-cho said most of the trees are exotic flowering trees originating from the extratropical areas outside South China. "Efflorescence of the flowering trees come in different time of the year that allows people to appreciate flowers all four seasons. For example, Tall Bottle-brush and Spider Tree bloom in spring, while Jacaranda, Flame of the Forest and Queen Crape Myrtle bloom in summer; in autumn there are blossoms of Hong Kong Orchid Tree and Purple Camel's Foot, while in winter, the blossoms of African Tulip Tree and Common Coral Tree come," Mr Choi said.

"The annual large-scale flower show provides an excellent opportunity for us to source new species by sharing tree planting experience with experts from other countries. We will also arrange planting trials for the extraordinary species they brought to Hong Kong, including the rare Wollemia pine, Xanthostemon Chrysanthus and Xanthorrhea Glauca, to see if local climate and environment allow wholesome growth of the plants."

Apart from exotic flowering trees, the department's tree-planting programme includes the cultivation of local and Guangdong subtropical species. "We have planted various local species such as Chinese Banyan, Camphor-tree, Scarlet Sterculia, Tallow-tree and Chinese Hackberry in the conservation areas in some of our parks. The local trees not only provide fruit for birds but also provide living and resting places for many species, maintaining ecological balance," Mr Choi said.

The tending of a tree from sapling stage to its efflorescence is a science in itself.

"In choosing a sapling, we have to select those with straight trunks and good tree-crowns. Most of them are planted in warm and humid seasons from March to October to ensure better establishment and growth of the plants. In finding good planting locations for the saplings, we have to make sure there are no wire and water pipe underneath. Also, those with large tree-crowns should be planted in parks with enough room for the natural development of the canopies which in turn provide shelter for park users.

"In planting trees, we have to dig a tree-pit in one cubic metre and fill in two to three inches of soil and fertiliser. When the sapling is planted, a tree support should be used to fix the trunk. The staff of the Tree and Landscape Sections and the District Leisure Services Offices will take up tree tending duties including pruning, pest and weed control, fertilisation, irrigation, soil improvement and regular inspection," he said. The large and healthy trees in the city signify the expertise and the effort of department staff in tree cultivation.

For public enjoyment, the department has developed some theme parks such as the Magnolia Garden in Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, the Prunus Garden in Tsing Yi Park, the Conservation Corner of North District Park and the Chinese hibiscus path in Yeung Siu Hang Garden, Tuen Mun. The department is now planning to develop more such thematic sites with distinctive tree species for park users.

Ends/Saturday, April 7, 2007
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