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Archive for April, 2011

“Mr Tan! Mr Tan!”

I was so thrilled that anyone would have thought I’d just found a long lost uncle. I hadn’t seen old Mr Tan for more than a decade.

Dad used to buy bags of soil and fertilizer from him whenever we went to the garden centre. Then suddenly, he and his wife disappeared and the place was taken over by others.

I was thrilled to see him looking well, hopping off his old bike as it came to a halt. We chatted a while and the kindly old man asked after my dad. Then he said, “Wait. I have something for you. Come, come.”

I followed him as he shuffled to the backyard where he surveyed two rows of knee-high spondias dulcis plants. He chose one. “This is dwarf; and seedless. I grow these for my friends. This is for you.”

I was really touched. It obviously gave him much joy to share his plants. “I’ll tell my dad it’s from you, Mr Tan,” I said and thanked him profusely.

And that’s how we came to have a dwarf kedondong, as this fruit is commonly called here, in our garden.

It sits in a big urn and has since fruited three times; first there was just a lone fruit, then three, and finally a dozen which looked a bit too heavy for the diminutive two-foot plant.

This crunchy, tangy tropical fruit is best picked before it ripens. It can be eaten neat, but tastes best dipped in a sauce, served in salads or blended into a refreshing drink. Of these, the latter remains my favorite.

It’s nutritional value? The fruit is packed with vitamin C but this, to me, is secondary.  I’d enjoy it whatever the case. There is nothing quite like a nice cold refreshing kedondong drink. I’m sure many will agree with me.

Cheers, Mr Tan!

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Care and propagation: full sun, well drained soil, water moderately. Propagate using seeds or hardwood cuttings


 

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It was the biggest cascade of lycopodium squarrosum I’d ever seen. The epiphyte looked as good as mink.

There wasn’t even a price tag on it – a truly priceless plant. There were smaller versions of this beauty for sale. At a whopping USD40 upwards, it was much more than I would pay for a few strands of the plant.

And so I had to be contented with occasional visits to the plant centre, dropping in to feast my eyes on the plant.

A gardening friend gave me a few bits that had detached from his plant. These have rooted and are growing slowly so I know it’ll be years before they grow into anything substantial. No wonder the plant commands a premium price.

Then two weeks ago I chanced on a pile of lycopodium squarrosum that had just been delivered to a garden centre. They had yet to be potted and was sold by the kilogram.

The price? A reasonable USD30 per kilo.

I bought a small clump which weighed a little over 250g. There were 7 strong stems and 2 new shoots, and I knew it could cost thrice as much once it was potted.

The leaves were shorter and coarser than my dream lycopodium, but no matter. I was satisfied.

I carved big holes at the base of a pot and gingerly threaded the stems through the gaps. After filling it with a loose mix of soil, pine park and sphagnum peat moss, and adding a topping of live forest moss, I hung the potted squarrosum.

Finally.

Now I yearn for a clump of the softer squarrosum. Maybe, one day …

Care and propagation: shade to dappled light; well-drained loose soil mixed with mulch and moss; water frequently; loves high humidity. Propagate using cuttings or by division.

my dream lycopodium squarrosum

 

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