The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

Flower gardening in Borneo

Previous - Next

776. The flowers of Borneo are remarkable for their beauty and fragrance, and the orchideous tribes are particularly numerous and lovely. Perhaps the most gorgeous of the native plants of Borneo are, however, as Mr. Low observes, 'the various species of the genus Rhododendron, which here assume a peculiar form, being found epiphytal upon the trunks of trees, as in the genera of the order Orchidaceï¾µ. This habit, induced probably by the excessive moisture of the climate, is not, however, confined to the ericaceous plants, but also prevails with the genera Fagrï¾µ'a Combretum, and many others, usually terrestrial. The roots of the rhododendrons, instead of being, as with the species inhabitants of cold climates, small and fibrous, become large and fleshy, winding round the trunks of the forest-trees. The most beautiful one is that which I have named in compliment to Mr. Brooke. Its large heads of flowers are produced in the greatest abundance throughout the year; they must exceed in size that of any known species, frequently being formed of eighteen flowers, which are of all shades, from pale and rich yellow to a rich reddish salmon colour. In the sun the flowers sparkle with a brilliancy resembling that of gold-dust.' (Sarawak; its Inhabitants and Productions, p. 65.) There are also four beautiful species of Clerodendron which adorn the banks of the Sarawak river. Two of them, which are fragrant, bear white flowers, one is scarlet, and the other crimson. Hoya imperialis is very striking; its dark purple wax-like flowers being relieved by an ivory-white centre. Among other curious plants, no less than eight new species of pitcher-plant have been discovered.