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The poetry of trees

A new book celebrates the trees of Mumbai's historic botanical garden

A map of Jijamata Udyaan’s trees from the book. Photo courtesy: Spade
A map of Jijamata Udyaan’s trees from the book. Photo courtesy: Spade

If there were 3,000 trees in a particular spot, what would you do? Samira Rathod’s simple answer would be: enjoy them. And what if these trees had come from all over the world? Rathod’s answer: protect them.

A Mumbai-based architect noted for her residential projects, Rathod is the founder of SPADE, a publication dedicated to Indian architecture. SPADE has published a new book Museum Of Trees ( 1,500) after four years of studying Jijamata Udyaan, that opened in 1861 and was formerly known as Rani Baug (Queen’s Gardens). “Along with Byculla Zoo and the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Rani Baug is symbolic of collecting—animals, objects and plants. Several rare trees, sourced from the colonies, were planted here by the British in an attempt to make a pleasure garden for themselves," says Rathod.

The 200-pager is replete with hand-drawn maps, illustrations and photographs. Rathod says the book goes beyond basic botanical information. “We want to convey the poetry of these trees," says Rathod. As Jijamata Udyaan’s natural heritage contends for space with the ever-expanding zoo, Rathod hopes people can still enjoy the garden through the book.

To order the book, write to

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