i was born in an agrarian community. farming is in our blood. i cant remember specifically what tree i first planted as a kid. i only remember the weariness of carrying the poly bags with fruit tree seedling to our tumoh (dumoh). we did that arduous job each planting season at different locations (talk about nomadic plantation). but at least, now i can proudly say, me and my siblings did quite a good job by the numbers of durians, rambutans, langsats, tarap etc we have in our orchard nowadays. and since we have an insanely tree lover dad, we also have some curios trees strewn together with the popular fruiting trees. he is responsible for the many varieties of durians in our orchard, an accomplishment, i am very sure gladden his heart.
|the house at the back. the bambangan is ours (;)). dec 2010. a year later, the young oil palms seedlings are towering and crowding our yard.|
the last time i went home (sometime in march), the house was surrounded by mature seedlings of oil palm. si popong cakap macam forest sudah. saya cakap, bah senanglah ini pigi menumbak, hilo noh natad*. sarcasm rarely works in my family.
when once, i asked my mom to plant flowering plants (pot plants). she merely said miloh toi'd ansakon ri?** . To this day, our home is free from non-essential flowering plants. we have to make do with passion fruit, four angled bean, roselle and some more edible plants around the house. and i understand my mom's practical gardening guidelines. why bother with the poisonous and non edible when you had 9 kids to feed? that's the basic rules of my community towards farming and gardening.
so, i envy the Englishmen in The Brother Gardeners. for having the luxury of gardening to feast their eyes.
i remember, when asked to write about one of the most influential botanist in my plant taxonomy class back in 2004, i chose John Bartram, an uneducated farmer but really knowledgeable of plants in America. he's technically not a botanist, but, he was for me, the driving force of introduction of new species of plants in England and Europe. Andrea Wulf made it very clear that, without the aid and expertise of Bartram, the garden in England might not be as lush as it is now.
i now yearn to see those glorious English gardens.
*i said, easier to harvest the fruits, its only at our backyard.
** can it be cooked? (is it edible?)