BY Kelvin Majangah
Real estate developer Sultan Palace Development Limited has set up a tree nursery and 15.5 acres of garden to complement its 43-acre beachfront property, contributing to environment conservation efforts, and simultaneously adding value to its properties.
The garden will have a combination of indigenous and exotic shrubs, palms and trees, including some rare species, to support the tropical conditions and coastal architecture of the development.
General Manager Sultan Palace Development Limited Liu Tiancai said the indigenous and exotic plants have more impact than just aesthetic value, adding that they play a critical role in coastal protection and environment conservation.
“Many of our indigenous forests have been cut down for development. So, by trying to plant as many indigenous trees as possible, Sultan Palace Development is trying to replace some of the flora and fauna that has been lost,” said Liu.
Liu further said, that on the seafront, they will use a selection of palms trees and shrubs that are hardy enough to tolerate the salt-laden winds and the harsh ocean front conditions.
“The garden will create a microclimate that is meant to positively contribute to the environment in general. The trees and shrubs will act as a protection against any future invasion from the ocean such as from strong winds and floods. The use of indigenous and water-wise plants reduces the impact of the development on the environment vis-a-vis water usage.”
The growing of coconut and other indigenous and exotic trees along the coastal landscape is crucial and a long term measure in stemming the devastation caused by global warming and climate change.
Trees and shrubs act as a buffer for strong winds that characterize the Kenyan coast, and absorb solar radiation far more than building structures.Shade trees can significantly reduce air temperatures indoors during the hot season, as trees intercept and soak up the sun’s heat while transpiring cooling moisture into the air.
Landscaping of this nature, where natural coral boulders and rocks are used to create rockery gardens, will also aid in getting maximum returns from the investment at the same time as minimizing negative effects on the environment.
“It is important to note that a well-manicured property with appealing landscaping is often a selling point. Often people tend to focus more on the inside, but it is critical to note that first impressions, even from the outside, matter,” said Liu.
Research has shown that complimentary landscaping provides the highest return on investment of any type of home improvement.
A Society of Real Estate Appraisers Survey revealed that 95 per cent of the appraisers responding to the survey believed that landscaping adds to the dollar value of residential real estate, while 99 per cent of them said it enhanced the sales appeal of residential real estate.
To ensure the plants chosen for the gardens thrive in salty and humid environment at the coast, the landscape consultants selected plants proven to be tolerant of the local conditions adding that local knowledge and experience is invaluable in this venture.
Work on the garden is set to begin this month, although a nursery has already been established and plants purchased for propagation.
Liu reiterated that daily routines will be undertaken to ensure the survival and maintenance of the gardens.
“We have trained garden maintenance personnel to look after the plants. We have also invested in recycling grey water to be used in the gardens to avoid water wastage,” said Liu.
Some of the rare flora to be planted includes the Bamba Kofi and Mpingo or the African Black Wood, which are under threat because of over harvesting. Harvesting of the two species of trees is illegal.
Other indigenous trees and shrubs to be planted include the Millettia Usamarensis,which is hardy and tolerant of seafront conditions with its beautiful sprays of purple flowers, Markhamia, Sideroxylon Inerme, Trichilea Emetica, Baobabs, various Grewia varieties as well as scented indigenous shrubs such as Mkilua & Feretia and Phoenix Reclinata.
Other exotic plants that will create a tropical feel will also be planted. They include various varieties of the coconut palm and numerous other exotic palms, such as the veitchia merrillii, golden cane or butterfly palm, the macarthur palm, pritchardia palm, travellers palm, coco thrinax as well as non-indigenous trees like the flamboyant tree, the cork tree various thevetias, various caesalpinias and shrubs including ixoras, gardenias, pseuderanthemums, ornamental ginger lilies and various heliconias.