04 September, 2009

September Pink and White Glory

Last year at about this time around the "Poui" trees were flowering through out Bintulu. I had written about them here. However, this year the Poui trees are in their flowering best. This could be due to the very prolonged distinct spell since the month of June to middle of July inducing this year's marvellous flowering. Not many people in Bintulu know how these trees were introduced here. In 1985, the first batch of these Poui tree seeds were sent to me by George Alphonso from Singapore in an envelope. It was from these seeds that the Poui trees in Bintulu derived their parentage. ( See George's letter below)

George Alphonso was appointed as Horticultural Consultant by the BDA in 1982 to advise the authority on the horticultural aspects of making Bintulu into a garden city. His services lasted for about 12 years. I was fortunate to work with him when I was in charge of landscaping of Bintulu in the 1980's till 1992. Finding it so very difficult to import live trees I asked George to send seeds of the Poui trees by mail. To know now how well these plants have thrived in Bintulu over the years is indeed a great pleasure and satisfaction. But lest we forget it was George who sent them by mail to Bintulu. George ( as I admirably call him) passed away in 2005. An obituary from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, UK is shown below. ( Reference: Orchid Research Newsletter No.47, January 2006)


Arthur George Alphonso (1921-2005)

George Alphonso trained as a gardener at the Singapore Botanic Gardens during the Directorship of Professor Eric Holttum. After the war, in which he continued to work in the garden, he came to Kew in 1954 on the two-year, international trainee course. During his two years at Kew he developed a love of the gardens and made many lasting friends.

On his return to Singapore, he resumed work at the Gardens as Senior Curator and, not long after the retirement of Professor Humphrey Burkhill as Director in 1969, was appointed Acting Director, a post that he held until 1976. He developed the orchid hybridization programme in the gardens and also introduced many novelties. Following his retirement he continued to take an interest in the Gardens but developed a new career as a garden designer, travelling as far afield as Australia and the Philippines, there to advise President and Mrs Marcos. He continued to work with orchids and was a regular lecturer at World Orchid Conferences and other events until the 1990s. He settled eventually in Perth, Australia, where his daughters are resident, but made frequent forays back to Singapore where he remained active in the Orchid Society of South-East Asia for many years. The hybrid orchid genus Alphonsara is named in his honour.

George passed away on 27 July 2005 in Perth. He leaves behind four daughters and their families, his wife Margaret having predeceased him.

Phillip Cribb

More Pictures of the Poui Trees in Bintulu ----24 years later!

The Poui tree has been called Tecoma Pentaphylla previously. Now it is known as Tabebuia alba ( white flowers) and Tabebuia rosea ( pink flowers)
I saw these stands of Tabebuia rosea in full flowering today at the Medan Jaya open space area.

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