Monday, November 28

A visit to Indonesian gardens


HIGHLAND TEMPERATURES: Strawberry farms are a must-see for visitors in Bandung.

RECENTLY I took a tour of Jakarta, Indonesia as well as the highlands of Bandung.

I managed to visit some parks and gardens and would like this week to highlight some of what I saw.

Bogor Botanical Garden

The most important site for me was the famous Bogor Botanical Garden, which I fi rst visited in 1990.

It is located around 60km south of Jakarta.

Founded in 1811 as a private garden by Sir Stamford Raffl es (founder of Singapore), it covers 87ha.

There are two rivers and lakes in the garden.

It is here that you might see the world’s tallest arum (Amorphophallus titanium), which can reach eight feet tall and smells like rotten eggs.

Five Amorphophallus were from Sumatra, the last fl owering occurred in July and lasted for over two weeks, with infl orescence open in the morning and closing by late afternoon.

The Rumah Anggrek (Orchid Garden) has large greenhouses full of various orchids.

The garden also serves as a research centre for botanists and agriculturists.

Today the garden contains over 15,000 species of trees and plants – including over 400 types of palms and some 50 different species of birds.

The recent Asia Pacifi c Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit was held here.

It is a tourist attraction and was the summer capital of Dutch colonialists.

Bogor is some 290 metres above sea level, so it enjoys a cooler climate than other Indonesian cities.

It is also known as the City of Rain because it rains more here than anywhere else on the island of Java.

Bandung – City of Flowers

Bandung is the capital of West Java and one of Indonesia’s largest cities.

It is located on a plateau in the beautiful Parahyangan Mountains, some 250 metres above sea level.

All along the roadsides we saw nurseries selling all sorts of potted plants and fl owers.

As the temperatures are lower, there were marigolds, daffodils, azaleas, roses, chrysanthemums, dahlias, petunias, and lavender.

Many plants found in the Cameron Highlands can also be found in Bandung.

The area grows many varieties of mangoes and avocado.

The strawberry farms are a must for visitors.

Within large sunny sheds, you’ll fi nd rows of polybags with strawberries.

Visitors can pick the strawberries of their choice.

This is indeed an interesting outing for the whole family.

There are also tea plantations on the hill slopes.

Tea was an important crop for early settlers, who used to send the leaves back to Holland.

The most attractive plant we saw was the angel’s trumpet, which is planted along the roads and in public gardens.

Angel’s trumpet is from the genus Brugmansia, which has seven fl owering plants in the family Solanaceae.

Native to subtropical regions, this small tree can reach some 10 metres in height.

It has a tan rough bark on the main stem.

The leaves are alternate, large and up to 30 centimetres long and 18 centimetres wide.

On the leaf surface, you will fi nd fi ne hairs and serrated margins.

It is a good plant for landscaping as it will draw the eye towards the coloured fl owers hanging down from the end of the branches.

The flowers are large and dramatic pendulous trumpets of some 20 inches in length and 10 inches in width for the larger varieties.

Colours range from white to yellow, pink, orange and red.

These fl owers have a slightly lemony fragrance.

Be warned, however, that angel’s trumpet is actually a toxic beauty.

All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans and animals.

If you ingest the plant, you may lose conciousness or have diffi culty breathing or walking.

Fortunately I knew that these fl owers are poisonous because my fellow tour group members were keen to smell the fl owers! Some authorities actually prohibit the sale and cultivation of these fl owers.

I have in the past warned stall holders at the Satok Sunday Market not to display poisonous plants or fl owers where children can get their hands on them.

In the Andes, this plant is used by the indigenous people for ritualistic purposes.

Just be warned not to touch any fl owers without knowing whether they are safe or not.

Happy gardening.

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