[dropcap]W[/dropcap]herever I go, I am always sure to bring my secatuers along. If it was only more portable, I’d probably bring a spade too. You never know when you will come across a plant for the garden. Institutional grounds are the best places to go, since they tend to have cultivated varities, and noone would miss a little cutting here or there. When I say cutting, I don’t mean chopping a tree down, I just mean clipping a twig or two off a shrub or tree. With a pair of hand pruners, there is absolutely no harm done.


Still, you have to be careful. Back in Michigan, my father had the cops called on him for digging a few volunteer Scotch pine seedlings out of a drainage ditch, underneath a power line on a public right-of-way. Anyone who stopped to think about it would know that within a few years’ time, right-of-way clearance crews would come down the line and cut down every last one of them. Yet, some watchful citizen, without bothering to come out of his house to ask what was going on, called the police on his neighbor. And the policeman was just as dense, chasing my father away, and warning him not to do it again. So, I know to be careful.

To make a short story long, a little while ago, when I found myself on Telekom grounds with a little time to spare, I strolled around, surreptitiously taking some cuttings of Mussaenda and Hibiscus when a watchguard barked at me (in Malay), “Hey, you there! What are you doing?”

“Oh nothing sir, just taking a few cuttings for my garden.”

“You can’t take cuttings like that”, he said in the same gruff voice, “those are [tooltip text=”kecik gilak” trigger=”hover”]ridiculously small[/tooltip]! They’ll take forever to grow! Give me those clippers. Here, ah, macam ni haa! That’s how you do it!” He cut off a stout branch about three feet long, pruned it a bit and handed it to me. Then he spun around and marched back toward his booth.

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

Join the Conversation


  1. dear brother the world works in funny ways and there are gardenrs every were i see. hope i find u well give a kiss to every one of your children for me and lily and deby and hugs to your wife

    love chanol

  2. You’re a chip off the old block, eh? Only it wasn’t afew scotch pine seedlings, it was 100. They didn’t catchme until my third trip over there. Fortunately the deputy didn’t notice all the holes . But you got a vastly different outcome, so life is good in Sarawak.

  3. Hmmm… what a sweet life in Kuching. I miss that life. I want to be back there for good soon, really soon!

  4. You’re doing that on Telekom grounds? Hehehehee… I wonder which Telekom was that.
    Should have told me, will dig the whole thing out for you, roots and all 😉

    Allah bless you and your family always.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply