Category Archives: Earth Hugger

The self-coined phrase of Earth Hugger is an extension of being a “tree hugger”, i.e. to appreciate the nature more, and make it less taxing for Mother Earth.

It’s the season!

The weather is hot hot hot. I’m not kidding when I say it’s hot. It’s hot even when it rained buckets this afternoon, displacing all the hot air onto me (after all, this is a blog about me), engulfing me in a stream of sauna hotness. My English teacher (who taught me a lot) would have shuddered with the repeated use of the word ‘hot’. And the whining.

But the heat and sudden rain has prompted a wonderful blooming season. These are days for cyclinng outdoors, to get sun-burned, be invigorated by fresh air, be surprised by nature, be enticed by its beasts and floras…

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Love these yellow saraca! I saw some budding ones a week ago near my home. Today we cycled along Ulu Pandan park connector and all these beauties were blooming! Yay! Plenty of egrets and kingfishers along the waterways too. Alas, birds don’t pose for phone cameras.

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Later in the afternoon, in an art class, the lady next to me was painting these yellow saraca! Talk about coincidence. We both marvelled at our find.

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Sundays are made of these meandering explorations. Yes it’s swelteringly – there comes the word a again – hot. But since you are already out and about, almost sun-burnt, you might as well just continue and keep on exploring.

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Till next weekend!

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Fruit of hundred fragrances

Lunar new year was spent at my parents’ home. This is the passion fruit vine, one of the products of my father’s guerilla gardening. The passiflora edulis – its botanical name – is native to Brazil and Paraguay – many plants that grow here have travelled far! It is said that Catholic missionaries in South America gave the fruit its name because they thought the flowers of the plant looked like the crown of thorns that was placed on Christ’s head.

In Chinese, the passion fruit is sometimes transcribed as ‘百香果‘ which literally means fruit of hundred fragrances. 

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Lupines in Iceland

June 2014

As the plane descended into Keflavik, massive fields of lupine spread out as far as the eye could see. In the days to come, these lush purple dominated the greener landscapes of Iceland that we saw.

Originally from Alaska, the lupines were introduced to Iceland in the 1940s. They grew like wildfire and are now considered to be an invasive species in Iceland.

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Raw beauty

14 June 2014. Krafla area, Mývatn region, north Iceland.

The many faces of Iceland are beguiling. At times dramatic and imposing. At times stark and desolate. At times placid and beautiful. At times wild and grotesque. The land of fire and ice is a place of contradictions. Life goes on in such inhospitable conditions.

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What started out as a pee stop, turned out to be a 3 hour detour on foot around this stunning area of Leirhnjúkur, part of the Krafla caldera.

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In Leirhnjúkur lava field, I lost my sole.

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After seeing the world for 5 years together, my boots fell apart here in Iceland.

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Still, that didn’t deter a walk up to Viti crater.

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This is one of the views from Viti crater.

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From Myvatn, we drove east to Egilsstaðir. As if the feast on landscapes for the day is not enough, every turn of the way brought us through steep passes and more stunning scenery. Then we just had to stop here.

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We got to Egilsstaðir, and saw a vertical rainbow; peter tells me it’s a sun dog. In June here in Iceland, it’s 23 hours of day light, magnificent sights and raw beauty.

 

 

Bougainvillea (bunga kertas)

As you may know, I occasionally write about flowers. Of all the flowers, the bougainvillea feels the most familiar. Almost like an old friend, in spite of its thorns. Where I grew up, there were bougainvillea shrubs out in the garden and beyond, popular in the neighbourhood perhaps because they grow easily in warm climate. To the extent you’d have to be mean and trim them often. The flowers – which are not true flowers but more like bract structures – are not particularly ornate but they were around, like a constant companion. It is the type of plant that does not bloom shyly, but shocks in flames of fuschia and magenta – at least those are the colours common to the bougainvillea glabra variety here.

Bougainvillea in my parents' garden. February 2013.

Bougainvillea in my parents’ garden. February 2013.

Its botanical name was given by French botanist Phillibert Commerson, who is said to have observed and described the flower during the circumnavigation with voyager Louis Antoine Bougainville. Although some have said the flower was actually first spotted and recorded by Commerson’s girlfriend Jeanne Baret: Baret had disguised herself as a man to join in the expedition as Commerson’s botanist assistant, ship surgeon and became the first woman (though under disguise) known to circumnavigate the world. What an interesting story. Perhaps “jeanne baret” would have been a flower name with a more glamourous sheen. (Another plant was named after Baret though it has since shed its name.)

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Near Braddell Road, Singapore. July 2012.

Did you know that Ipoh – a city 200km north of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia – is known as “Bougainvillea City“? I didn’t know that until I started writing this post. Why is it the official flower of Ipoh? Due to its abundance, perhaps. But the bougainvillea is found in many parts of Malaysia, and is hardly unique to Ipoh.

It is interesting that a flower that isn’t native to a place can take on such a hold in in its adopted place. The bougainvillea is said to be native to South America (Brazil, Peru, Argentina). Plants, like humans, have travelled far and wide, cross-bred and made a new home in a foreign land.

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Fuschia-flamed bougainvillea bush. In the background, Sulamani Pahto, in Bagan, Myanmar. March 2012.

Artistic rendition of the bougainvillea on a Malaysia stamp.

Artistic rendition of the bougainvillea on a Malaysia stamp.

In the Malay language, the bougainvillea is known as bunga kertas, which literally means “paper flower”, as in how the flower is thin, like paper. In the Chinese language, it is colloquially known as 九重葛 which refers to “nine layers” – perhaps reflective of how the flower grows in bouquets and layers. How is it the same flower has such different names in different languages, and that’s excluding the confusing names that botanists use.

What do you call the bougainvillea in your language?