Category: ECOSYSTEM

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Wood shack at Hampstead Heath, photo by PH Morton

Hampstead Heath, photo by JMorton

I love this Manet-like impressionism photo at Hampstead Heath by PH Morton

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Forest bathing has become an accepted form of relaxation and stress management in Japan.  It was started in the mid-80s.

But what is forest bathing?

It involves going into a woody land or forest, a green space, and hike leisurely; relax and breathe in all the freshness and negative ions, the so-called air-borned vitamins’, given off by the surrounding trees and plants.

Let all the stress of the day melt in the comparative embraces of the forest.

In London, there is a woodland called Hampstead Heath, a 320 hectares of open, green space perfect for forest bathing, among other things.  It is a place for a great family bonding.  There are numbers of ponds, there is even a ‘secret garden’ which is architecturally excellent.  It also covers a natural swimming pool for ladies and also for men, there are the Parliament Hill, the Kenwood House, Highgate pond, etc.

Be astounded at how great Hampstead Heath is, when it is just 6 kilometres away from the very busy bustling city centre of London, the Trafalgar Square.

It is a place for biodiversity: human meets natures and wildlife in a capsule of forested heath.

So Londoners, now the weather outside is no longer frightful, put on your walking shoes and have a forest bath!

 

Malunggay, Leafy Superfood

Malunggay, photo by JMorton

Malunggay, Leafy Superfood

There have been a lot of studies and testimonials regarding the health benefit of Malunggay or its scientific name of Moringa Oleifera.

Studies have found that malunggay (Filipino/Tagalog name) has a very high nutritional value.  This may be true as a young child in Marag, our diet often included marunggay (Ilocano name for the malunngay).  The tree grow almost everywhere in Marag, thus providing us a microbiotic diet which complements most soupy viands in an almost vegetarian existence.  I supposed as children, we did not get sick, except for malaria, brought about by mosquitoes, which is another story. 🙂

Malunggay is a superfood as well as super-herbal-medicine.

Lactating women are advised to make malunggay soup as part of their diet to produce more milk.

Apparently 1 cup of mallunggay, in terms of nutrients, is equivalent to 10 cups of broccoli.

 

Verbena Bonariensis

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Verbena Bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis is a perennial summer flowering plant.

It is a beautiful addition to boarder plants as they add elegant height of purple-violet clusters of unscented vibrant flowers.  They are very attractive to bees and butterflies. 🙂

It has a long blooming period, which can be between July to November.

Desert Rose Plant

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Desert Rose Plant, Photo by JMorton

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Desert Rose Plant, Photo by JMorton

Desert Rose Plant

I saw this plant in the Philippines and I’ve fallen in love with the flowers.  They were very eye-catching.

This plant is called Adenium Obesum or more commonly known as desert rose.  It is a tropical flowering plant.  It is a succulent, which requires copious amount of watering but it must not be allowed to stand on water, thus a free-draining soil is advised.

It likes hot climate or temperature, although with proper care, it can be grown anywhere.  It is a beautiful house plant in colder countries.  It should be placed by the window sill, where it can catch a daily dose of sunlight.

Pruning in the spring will prevent the plant from going too leggy.

Autumn Arrives in London

Tulip Tree Leaf, photo by PH Morton

photo by PH Morton

Liriodendron tulipifera Aureomarginatum, commonly known as Tulip Tree

Autumn Arrives in London

As our summer season ends and so autumn arrives in London and Great Britain.

The word autumn has ancient roots alluding to the passing of the year. In the USA and some parts of the world this season  is called ‘the fall’.

This year, we have had mixed weather, from a wet and cold winter through a sunny and wet spring rolling into a sunny and wet summer.

We had two of the hottest days in September for over 100 years, with temperature reaching nearly 32C (89F).

Yes the British weather can still excite conversation among Brits. 😉

It is still quite mild with rain and sunshine and I can still wear a T shirt, without feeling cold. 🙂

The most common sign that autumn is approaching is when the leaves on deciduous trees. change colour from their spring and summer colour of green, to browns,yellows, reds and orange.
The leaves then soon after start to fall from their twigs and branches.

In autumn, some of the trees produce spectacular colour combinations of the above.

Deciduous is a Latin term meaning “falling off at maturity”

Leaves that fall off their tree branches in autumn are from the broad leaf type, having large areas to soak up the sun.

Trees that have these types of leaves need maximum food and energy to grow and produce fruit, such as apples, pears and berries etc.

These leaves have reached maturity by the end of summer using up the green chlorophyll pigment they contain to produce energy and food via photosynthesis for the tree in spring & summer.

As the daylight grows shorter with the arrival of the colder days of autumn and winter, the leaf receives decreasing amounts of  warm sunlight.

The leaf can no longer produce enough food for it’s tree, therefore it will trigger a kind of self destruct sequence.

As the temperature lowers, the leaves try and remain above freezing to provide nourishment to the tree until the last possible moment.

As the green pigment fades in the leaf, other pigments appear, which were masked by the dominant chlorophyll.

One pigment is carotenoids, which produce rich yellow, orange and brown colours, such as in carrots, banana peel, pumpkins.

Another pigment produced is called anthocyanins which are mainly red and purple.

As autumn progresses, the leaves become weaker, insects feed and worsening  weather take effect.

Within the stem of a leaf which is attached to it’s branch is the abscission layer, which chokes of the leaf veins that transfer water and food to the tree via the branch.

This further decays and weakens the leaf and stem, so the leaf becomes detached from it’s branch and so falls to the ground, it’s important work done.

Evergreen trees retain their leaves through cold freezing winter weather, because their smaller area leaves, some are needle shapes have a coating of a wax that helps protect them from the extreme cold.

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Photo by PH Morton

Enjoy these wonderful seasonal colours and think of the sacrifice the leaf made to produce them.