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My book is born

It has arrived. My advance copy. The publication date is September 18, 2018.

It took me ten minutes to open the package.

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Part of  the book’s dedication is –

And for the gardeners of the world.

You with the crazy eyes and rough hands.

You who are so much in love with growing things.

You artists and scientists, poets and painters, protectors and advocates.

You who fall in love again and again.

You know who you are.

It has arrived.   它已经到达 Det er kommet  זה הגיע     Het is aangekomen Il est arrive Sie angekommen ist Έφτασε Ini telah tiba Ito ay dumating È arrivato  それが到着した  Chegou  Он прибыл Ha llegado Den har anlänt มันได้มาถึง O geldi  Mae wedi  cyrraedd    Він прибув Je prišel To prišlo Stiglo je Dotarł 그것은 도착 했다  Nws tau los txog  Stigao je     وقد وصلت   Dit het aangebreek.

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I will let it sit on the table for awhile. And then I will approach it with caution. But don’t you do the same because this is a lustful book and you, lustful reader, should devour it.

Or, you could just read it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Some plants and animals of Sarawak

I have just returned from ten days in Sarawak, Borneo. As jet-lag befuddles my brain and words come up short, here are a few photographs.

Alocasia robusta (2)

Alocasia robusta

Ficus rosulataFicus rosulata 1 (2)

Nepenthes veitchiiIMG_6043 (2)

Licuala orbicularis 2 (2)

Licuala orbiculata

Nepenthes albomarginata (2)

Nepenthes albomarginata

Flying lemur (2)

Flying lemur

Bako 1 (2)

Bako National Park.

Kerangas 2 (2)

Kerangas (Heath Forest)

Bornean Keeled Pit Viper

Bornean keeled pit viper 2 (2)

Octomeles sumatrana 3 (2)

Octomeles sumatrana in Mulu National Park.

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Dipterocarp

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Nepenthes reinwardtiana

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Fishtail Palm (Caryota no) outside the Deer Cave, Mulu National Park.

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Twelve ( possibly thirteen) species of bats live in the cave.

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The bats come out in waves.

My thanks to Chien Lee http://wildborneo.com.my/

for helping me with my itinerary.

Featured

There ain’t nuthin’ like a good swamp.

 The Green Swamp Preserve, 17,424 acres (7051.24 hectares) in Brunswick County, North Carolina is owned by the Nature Conservancy. It is an area of pocosins, Algonquin meaning “swamp-on-a hill”. Pocosins are dense with shrubs such as black titi (Cliftonia monophylla), gallberry (Ilex coriacea) and sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana). Thousands of years of muck have produced acidic, nutrient deficient soils where a carnival of carnivorous plants grow, notably the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula), a member of the sundew family which opens and closes its hinged leaves in response to an insect brushing against tiny trigger hairs on the leaf’s inner surface. In half a second, the trap shuts and the plant secretes digestive juices, taking about a week to fully absorb the insect.  Charles Darwin called the flytrap “one of the most wonderful plants in the world”.

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  There are fourteen known species of carnivorous plants in the preserve. The yellow pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava) is perhaps the most dramatic with 20 to 36 inch (50.5-91.5 cm) yellow tubes veined red and a red-purple throat at the base of its hood. They are modified leaves, curled to make a tube.The flowers come up in spring and are angled or pendulous and a vibrant green-yellow.

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Sarracenia purpurea is also present in great numbers.

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Surrounding the pocosins are long-leaf pine savannas. The pine (Pinus palustris) grows from southeastern Virginia, all the way to the Florida panhandle and west to the Piney Woods of Texas. “A magnificent grove of stately pines, succeeding to the expansive plains we had long time traversed, had a pleasant effect, rousing the faculties of the mind, awakening the imagination by its sublimity, and arresting every active, inquisitive idea, by the variety of scenery”, wrote William Bartram in 1791.

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Now, longleaf pine savanna is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the United States with only about 12,000 acres (4,856 hectares) of fragmented old growth remaining of a pre-colonial population of 90 million acres (364,21,707 hectares). The pine’s demise is due to its usefulness to humans and to human greed. Tar, pitch, rosin and turpentine, four products derived from pines that protect wood and rope from rotting, caulk planks, and deter wood-boring insects and mollusks. Perfect for ship and house building. The high resin content of Pinus palustris, made it especially useful to the expanding colonies. Business boomed, especially with the cheap labor of slaves. But within sixty years of the end of the “war between the states” (1861-1865), the once great forests were gone, chopped down, sawn up and boiled.

Nearby are wetter areas, home to the occasional alligator and surrounded by one of America’s finest trees, the swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum).

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There ain’t nuthin’ like a good swamp.

 

65 and still alive

I turned 65 on July 1. With what seems like astonishing speed I went from 42 to 65. To celebrate my birthday and also to look at places and plants new to me, Mary and I took a trip to Dubrovnik, then to Montenegro, Albania and Greece.

The first stop was Dubrovnik. It was founded in the 7th century. Its history is the history of the Mediterranean world. In 1991 it was shelled by the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and badly damaged. Today, only the newer tile roofs of the repaired houses indicate it was ever damaged. But some 60 people died in yet another pointless internecine struggle.

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From Dubrovnik south to Montenegro and the city of Ulcinj. And a little sailing.

IMG_6916 (2)Sailing being looking at this beautiful sailboat from the shore.

Then to Albania and a couple of days spent in the Llogora National Park.

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With wind blown black pines (Pinus nigra)

Pinus nigra 1

and the remains of one of Enver Hoxha’s 173,371 concrete bunkers, used to observe and repel any potential invasion.

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Growing in the rubble is Digitalis ferruginea.

Digitalis ferruginea 1

Phlomis fruticosa

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and Pterocephalus perennis (I think).

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The Ceraunian Mountains drop sharply to the Ionian Sea.

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Down to a lovely bay which was once a Soviet submarine base.

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On to Greece. The Peloponnese. Olives and grapes everywhere.

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And Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria)

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Euphorbia dendroides coming into leaf.

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Genista lydia in full flower.

Genista lydia 2

Echinops spinosissimus

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So many plants. So little time.

I think I will return. In Spring. This time to Crete.

 

 

A walk around town

I live in a small town east of San Francisco. It is on San Pablo Bay, part of the larger San Francisco Bay. I have lived here for four years. It is home and yet not home. Do ex-patriates ever feel completely at home ?

These are pictures from a morning walk from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. The light becomes hard quickly at this time of year.

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Many have good gardens.

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Some do not.

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Palms and redwoods, ubiquitous by the Bay.

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Carquinez Strait

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It’s California, we need our chakra balancing, apparently.

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I come home to my small house and garden, greeted by Manihot grahamii. Gardening isn’t easy when you travel as much as I do. I have had big gardens. I am content with this one. For the moment.

Some plants and animals of Sarawak

urbane horticulture

I have just returned from ten days in Sarawak, Borneo. As jet-lag befuddles my brain and words come up short, here are a few photographs.

Alocasia robusta (2)Alocasia robusta

Ficus rosulataFicus rosulata 1 (2)Nepenthes veitchiiIMG_6043 (2)Licuala orbicularis 2 (2)Licuala orbiculata

Nepenthes albomarginata (2)Nepenthes albomarginata

Flying lemur (2)

Flying lemur

Bako 1 (2)

Bako National Park.

Kerangas 2 (2)

Kerangas (Heath Forest)

Bornean Keeled Pit Viper

Bornean keeled pit viper 2 (2)Octomeles sumatrana 3 (2)Octomeles sumatrana in Mulu National Park.

IMG_5997 (2)

Dipterocarp

Nepenthes reinwardtiana2 (2).jpgNepenthes reinwardtiana

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Fishtail Palm (Caryotano) outside the Deer Cave, Mulu National Park.

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Twelve ( possibly thirteen) species of bats live in the cave.

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The bats come out in waves.

My thanks to Chien Lee http://wildborneo.com.my/

for helping me with my itinerary.

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