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Kent Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 08 March 2016 by Tim Ingram

March talk to the East Kent AGS

11th March 2016 - Ruth Calder is a Diploma Student at Kew Gardens with a strong consciousness of environmental issues and interests in ethnobotany, permaculture and natural history. In October 2014 she spoke on the ‘Plants and People of Oaxaca’ in Mexico to the Kew Mutual Improvement Society (established by Joseph Hooker in 1871 especially for students of plants to share their experiences with leading horticulturists and botanists). This will be the title of her talk to us - not about alpines but of interest to anyone with a wider fascination about plants in general and their relationship to the people of this region.  Oaxaca is one of the richest floristic places in the world with 9 000 species of higher plants and 700 different ferns.

We meet at 7.30pm at Lower Hardres Village Hall, CT4 5NP, just to the south of Canterbury (take the turning from the B2068 at the Granville Public House). Visitors and guests are very welcome.

Oaxaca is the subject of Oliver Sacks marvellous little book 'Oaxaca Journal' which I gave a short review of in August 2012:

'Oaxaca Journal' by Oliver Sacks

 

Oliver Sacks will be well known for his moving and penetrating accounts of people suffering from neurological conditions, and the wonderful story of his childhood and fascination with chemistry, 'Uncle Tungsten'. He also loves ferns and has written a delightful short book on a trip to Mexico, studying these in the wild - 'Oaxaca Journal'. Oaxaca is unusually rich in ferns with over 700 species, many adapted to very arid conditions. As you might expect his mind ranges to many other topics; the ancient civilisations of Mexico; the Spanish conquest; chillies, chocolate and tomatillos; the weaving and dying of cloth with cochineal; and the contrasts of life in one of the most populous and poor countries in the world. Even more he describes his fellow 'fernaholics' and the comfort and fascination he finds in their company. It is a rare and generous little book in the tradition of the early naturalists (Wallace, Bates, Spruce and Humboldt) with whom he opens the book in the preface.

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