This Month

This Month November 2014 - Monday, 03 Nov 2014

I am not warm, yes it is not raining and the sun is shining but I am feeling that winter chill - Ok so I admit I did spend most of October in 30C and high humidity which also means that apart from the 1st week of the month I haven’t done a scrap of work in the garden. I don’t think I am going to find it easy forcing myself back into work mode, not that I have been idle as I have been treking in the jungle and walking up a mountain which was more like climbing up a waterfall in full spate. I have been in Sarawak and Sabah in Borneo and had the privilege and pleasure of seeing some of the flora and fauna before ‘man’ wipes it out completely. I think about 50% of Sabah is now palm oil plantations which means vast ecosystems have been destroyed to fill the pockets of a few. Many species are lost and many more in drastic decline, which also means that possible medicines of the future will not be available, a lot of our medicine is of rainforest origin. Next time you buy a snack bar or biscuit check the label as much of it now has palm oil and every time we eat it we are aiding and abetting the destruction.

I visited an Orang-utan rehabilitation centre which was great to see but since the rapid increase in palm oil these wonderful animals have seen a huge increase in displacement and death. I also saw Sun Bears at the centre. In the jungle I had the wildlife I saw included Proboscis Monkeys, a Gibbon, a Pygmy Elephant, Silver Leaf Macaques and Long-tailed Langours.

The plant life was great with some lovely species of Orchids and several species of Nepenthes (Pitcher Plant) and flowering trees and shrubs. I even saw a Raflessia which at 3ft (1m) across is the largest flower in the world. It grows on a vine and the bud slowly grows to football-size before opening to show 5 fleshy petals around a central disc with a circular hole to reveal the stamens and pistils. It is mottled all over in yellow, cream and mahogany-red and smells of rotting meat to attract flies to pollinate it, the flower is over in 7 days. I think the nearest thing we can grow to resemble it, at least as far as the smell is concerned, is Dranunculus vulgaris. I will put some pictures on my web gallery.

Back at Moors Meadow and I hope to get on with the winter pruning, I do have a few things to plant out but the thought of putting my hands in cold soil is not at all appealing. I have allowed myself a couple of days to try to catch up with my writing and reduce the email inbox but then I must try to get out there and get on with the multitude of jobs which have been neglected.

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