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Notes on the Geography of Indonesia: The Botanical Gardens at Bogor

Seeking escape from the coastal humidity, in 1745 Governor van Imhoff located a site about 30 miles inland and at an elevation of about a thousand feet. There he built an estate he called Buitenzorg, "Carefree." Fifty years later, in 1811, Java fell briefly to the British, and a young Stamford Raffles came to Buitenzorg and began to develop a garden around it. When the Dutch regained control in 1816, they continued the development of what became one of the great colonial plant collections. Although Buitenzorg is now called Bogor and has grown to a city of 700,000, at its center is still this remarkable garden, in remarkably good shape.

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The main entrance to Kebun Raya, the "great garden."

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Inside: the presidential palace. This version dates from 1856. Although the garden is open to the public, the palace isn't.

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A reminder of the toll the tropics took on Europeans.

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It commemorates Raffles' wife.

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The garden is both a landscape garden, laid out with an eye to beauty, and a botanical collection used by the Dutch to develop plants of commercial value, most famously cinchona.

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Irrigation isn't needed; there's abundant rain year-round.

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Runoff can be heavy.

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Among the 15,000 plants in the garden, there are 400 species of palm.

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The Java Almond, which, despite its name, comes from Gran Canary.  The genus name is more faithful: Canarium.

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Another study in roots: pandanus, with a palm-like trunk but amazing prop roots.

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The kempas tree, Koompassia malaccensis; a valuable timber species.

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That jungle feeling.

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Outside the garden gates: don't expect a continuation of the bucolic mood.


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