Close Encounters of the Airplant Kind

I posted before about how Tillandsias looked "like something from outer space".

Even film producer/director James Cameron appreciated the Tillandsia's other-worldly qualities, using the species as inspiration for some of the plants of Pandora in the movie "Avatar".

(Doesn't the tree at 1:05 remind you of a Tillandsia caput-medusae?)

You can also see more of these in GWGT's Happy Monday from Pandora and Ecorazzi's Pandora on Earth.  Mr. Cameron even asked his friend Paul Isley of Rainforest Flora, Inc. to put together an arrangement of Tillandsia's to give to Avatar star, Sigourney Weaver, on her birthday.  I've seen a picture of the arrangement and if one isn't familiar with Tillandsia's it can appear quite Pandora-ish.

People who know me and readers of this blog know that I am particularly fond of Tillandsias and that I am fortunate to have people to turn to for guidance in the care of my plants.  Rene Dofitas, who I am fortunate to be able to call in times of distress.  Gonzer of the Palm Talk and the GardenWeb forums who readily shares his expertise.  My first line of help, though, comes from the book, "Tillandsia", written by Paul Isley.

It was with great excitement that I wrote about the launching of his book, "Tillandsia II", here in Manila.  I was looking forward to getting a copy of the book and meeting Paul himself.  

So, last Sunday, I brought my whole family to the MSBF where Rex Puentespina was hosting the event.

The man himself, Mr. Paul T. Isley.  (Sorry for the picture quality but the lights were dimmed for the lecture and I didn't want to use the flash.)

Getting my book autographed.

Bloggers Unite!  With Patrick Gozon of Our Philippine Trees.  You should check out his site which is very informative.  I have it in my blog list and visit it regularly.

Tillandsia collectors.  (L-R) Myself, Irene Bernal and Paul.

All together now! Happy smiles from everyone after Paul Isley's talk.  Also, we had just had a taste of the products of Malagos Farmhouse in Davao, also owned by the Puentspina family, including their Chocolate Tableyas, three kinds of cheeses and wine made from Bignay (Antidesma Bonius L.).

You would think that nothing could have topped last Sunday but my Monday was even better.  I had an even closer encounter.

Upon the invitation of Rex, my wife and I joined him, his brother Angel and Paul on a trip to visit a local nursery.

Talk about Tillandsia heaven.

With Angel Puentespina among Vriseas and Tillandsias.

With Rex Puentespina and more Tillandsias and Vriseas.

The General Manager of the nursery, Alex Elias, taking us on a tour.

While waiting for lunch to be served, I got an even closer encounter with Paul. His stories of collecting Tillandsias in Central and South America seem to come from a movie like Avatar, action packed and complete with danger, suspense and drama.  I just can't imagine what Paul had to go through especially the part where he landed in jail somewhere in Mexico and had an encounter with a thug in Brazil all in the name of Tillandsia.

A wonderful lunch by our wonderful hosts.  Fritz, Jim, myself, Soukhan, Rex, Alex, Paul and Angel.

With these kinds of close encounters, who needs the other kinds?

 

 

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