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Semmozhi Poonga literally translated to "Classical Language Park", is a botanical garden in Chennai set up by the horticulture department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. The garden was opened on 24 November 2010 by then Cheif Minister of Tamil Nadu Kalaignar M.Karunanidhi. It is the first botanical garden of the city. The garden is located in the Cathedral Road–Anna Salai junction, opposite to the American Consulate.
The botanical garden is built at a cost of 80 million, covering an area of 20 acres (320 grounds). More than 500 species of plants are being grown in the area, in addition to the 80 trees that was already in the park, some of them being more than 100 years old.
The garden houses some of the popular exotic flora and rare plant species, medicinal and aromatic herbs. Many of the exotic plants are imported from countries like China and Thailand, including a plethora of bonsai varieties of ficus microcarpa and ficus ginseng.
The area in which the botanical garden stands today was formerly the location of the Woodlands Drive-In restaurant and the Agri-Horticultural Society. The land was sub-leased to the Woodlands Hotel by the Agri-Horticultural Society in August 1989. Early in 1989, the Tamil Nadu Government had set in motion the closure of the restaurant. After almost two decades, the restaurant ended its operation on 12 April 2008. On 13 November 2009, the Supreme Court gave its consent to the state government to set up the garden.
The arch near the entrance plaza is a vertical garden which is a unique feature of the botanical garden. The vertical garden, with an inbuilt irrigation and drain system for easy maintenance, is 22 feet long and 14 feet high intended to improve the scenic beauty of the park at the entrance. The arch is covered by 7,000 plants from 35 different species including dracena, lilies, ophiopogon, schefflera, phyllodendron and flowering plants like krishnagantha. The 10-feet-high green wall has plants raised in a poly trace imported from Canada. Micro-tube irrigation has been arranged for watering the plants. The plants cling to the 700-sq.ft. wall, which serves as the entry point.
A butterfly garden near the cascade fountains along the Anna flyover has been carved up into the shape of a butterfly, with flowering plants of more than 30 species completely fenced. The aroma garden acts as a welcoming greenhouse for winged visitors, with species like parijatham and pavalamalli found to flock the place in bulk. An amphitheatre with concrete benches and covered by ferns has been built on the rear side of garden to host social and cultural functions.
In the course of the construction, the garden has received nearly 800,000 worth plants from China. These include flowering cacti that have a velvety, light pink at the top, non-flowering cacti with diameters up to about 45 cm, 'lucky' bamboo, ficus and bonsai varieties. The cacti were planted in the cacti garden decorated with white marble chips, pebbles and rocks from Porbandar. The garden also received water lilies from Thailand and 12 varieties of orchids.
The golden garden is a short canopy of yellow flower and leaf plants after which comes the children's play area.
The herbal garden holds 25 varieties of herbal plants such as lemongrass, philanthus, gooseberries, vasambu and thulsi among others.
There is a theme garden that has about 14 varieties of bamboo. This leads straight to the pond garden, a melange of water plants and palms.
On the other side of the pond is a mural walk, a coarse pebble bed that branches out in the shape of a large tree. Then comes a spiral pathway with plants on either side.
There is an open auditorium available within the garden which can be hired to organise functions.
The garden has a parking lot that can accommodate around 100 cars and more than 500 two-wheelers.
Entry: Entry ticket is Rs. 10 per person. Camera Charge Rs. 15.
Timings: The garden remains open for morning walkers from 6 am to 8 am. For visitors, the park remains open from 10 am through 8 pm on all days except Tuesdays.