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Hong Kong Flora

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More or less across the street from Hong Kong Park is the Botanical Garden and Zoo.  The gibbons and lemurs in the zoo provided some entertainment, but my camera wasn’t up to catching them in the distance and the shade, so here I focus on the flora rather than the fauna.  I enjoyed the color but didn’t try to learn the names.  After all, none of these will grow where I live, 10 degrees latitude north and 4000 feet higher above sea level.

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An interesting aspect of Hong Kong is the way they cope with the steep slopes.  Here is an example of one such area, concrete holding the dirt in place except for small circles for plants to grow out of.  These slopes are identified by a numbering system so that problems can be tracked and corrected.slope garden

In another part of the garden, this tree seemed almost to have posed for me:

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The botanical garden has many different sections, one of which is a bamboo garden.

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Here are a few more flowers from another park in the city.

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Questions of Scale

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Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa, a member of the rose family) has been in bloom in our area recently.  I first learned about Apache Plume in a nature guide at Dripping Springs, a BLM recreation area in the Organ Mountains.  Nothing was in bloom at the time; I could not guess which plant beside the trail the guide referred to.

Reading that the plant was named for the seed plumes, which look like Apache war bonnets, I pictured something grand.  It was at first a disappointment to discover that the five-petalled white flowers are about 1 ½ inches across.  The seed heads are pink plumes of about the same size.  The pink soon turns brown and the seeds are blown away by the wind.  The plant is beautiful in bloom, in the seed stage or, as here, at half and half.  The season is short: for most of the year all one sees are the small clustered leaves on an often straggly plant.

Who first saw a war bonnet in this small, delicate shape?  Was it someone for whom raids by Native tribes were a real and present danger?  Was it someone who recalled such raids as recent and treasured history?

To see the large in the small requires a certain kind of creativity, a talent for comparison across difference.  To see the small in the large may be an even rarer gift―or perhaps it simply is not mine.  The ability to see similarities in things of different scale is the way of metaphor, an important tool for poets and others who seek to see things in fresh ways.

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