Senin, 08 Maret 2010

When we went to Kerala in Southern India last year we spent some time in the extensive tea plantations that form the landscape around former colonial Hill Stations high in the Western Ghats. Originally equatorial forests, large areas of the hills were cleared in the late C19th because of the suitable climate for tea cultivation. Now endless vistas of undulating green carpet present themselves. The tea plants are set in rows to enable picking, layered around the steep contours of the landscape, sometimes at a precipitous 45˚ or more. The plantations are often dotted with Silver Oaks planted to provide just a small amount of shade as the shadow moves round during the day. Tall spindly Eucalyptus form backdrops to many plantations and sometimes stray amongst them. Spectacular Jacaranda trees with their purple-blue flowers and Acacias with bright red flowers occur frequently throughout the plantations, made all the more vivid against the backdrop of the brilliant green tea camellia. Jacaranda and oaks in a plantation:


The tea plant is a camellia (Camellia Sinensis). Tea bushes grow to tree height in the wild but on plantations they are maintained at waist height to enable picking. Only the bud and first two leaves of each shoot are picked (hence PG Tips). Apart from tea bushes other plants grown on tea plantations include pepper, cardamom, cashew and areca nut. (We saw also coconut, rubber, banana and kapok). The tea is plucked every 5-10 days depending on where it is grown. Tea pickers near Munnar:


Tea pickers packing up at the end of a day's picking in Bison Valley near Munnar:


Another tea painting 'Pottankad, Kerala' oil on canvas 100cm x 100cm:

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