The Bruneian

Green awakening


Despite having amassed what can now be considered a small jungle of exotic plants, Muqsith had no experience or prior knowledge in the field of plant care.

“I never had any interest in plants before this. My only reference point when it came to gardening or plants is that I remember the plants that used to decorate our home when I was young, but again, I was never interested,” he said.

He was eventually bitten by the plant craze in June 2020, when Brunei experience­d its first wave of COVID-19.

“I had a new house when I returned here (to Brunei), so initially, this all started as a way to decorate our new home. I remember that my first plant was a Calathea ‘White Star’, and everything just started to snowball from there,” he explained.

Muqsith described the experience afterward as being a whirlwind.

With the pandemic giving birth to a multitude of new plant parents, it created soaring demand for ornamental and exotic plants in Brunei, fostering a resurgence in the local houseplant community that was feverish with the desire for new and exciting plants.

This excitement of course was most apparent through social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook; where fellow local plant enthusiast­s could find one another and marvel at each other’s plant collection­s through hashtags such as #bruneiplan­tclub.

“It was a really fun time because everyone was just excited about plants. I had relatives who shared the same hobby so sometimes, we had sleepless nights especially during the weekends because we were anticipati­ng the flower market in Gadong,” he said.

“We would wake up around 5am just so we could go there early and scout the different plants that were available. We were all still new, so there were always varieties that we wanted to add to our collection,” he added.

Fortunatel­y for Muqsith, he had enough money saved from his previous job, to accommodat­e this houseplant spree and as his collection grew, so did his curiosity.

During this point in time, the former field engineer would painstakin­gly do research; on plant care, plant propagatio­n and the different species of plants that were not just available in Brunei, but also outside.

“I would watch videos, read articles and even some research papers… I would also watch these plant influencer­s on Youtube, who would make videos about highly sought after and rare plants,” he said.

“So when I started to collect certain plant species, I had a reference list of what plants to search for next in order to complete my collection,” he added.

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