December 2018



There is only one outing for December as given below.  These Tree Society walks are informative, friendly and fun and you do not have to be a member to join us on any of them.

Saturday December 1stBotanic Garden walk.  Meet in the car park at 0830 hours.  If we have had some rain by then the gardens should be looking lovely – they always do!  Hope to see you there.



I know it does not feel like the Christmas Season yet, but what better excuse to get out into a lovely bit of country, do some really good fun botanizing, test our brains (i.e. the recall button of same), enjoy some happy camaraderie with great people whilst enjoying your picnic and a tipple in Bill and Fiona’s lovely garden.

Yes, again Bill Clarke and the lovely Fiona have invited us to Val d’Or for an end of year get together of Tree Society members.

All this will take place on Sunday 9th December 2018 at 0930 hours at Val d’Or. 

Please bring something for the tea table to suit the season, your picnic lunch and a cooler bag with whatever you are going to drink.  I know that in the past the Society has provided wine for these occasions, but with the cost of wine as it is at the present we are sorry that this cannot be this year.  I hope this does not deter you from coming to enjoy the day out in these lovely surroundings.

Mary.  Convener of outings

Tree Society visit to the Bvumba and Burma Valley – 16th-19th November 2018.

Another very successful Tree Society away trip accomplished.  This was a happy few days, made so by the amazing hospitality received from our hosts, Ken and Sue Worsley who met our every need and provided wonderful dinners all in the face of the mega inflationary food prices and fuel shortages.  As luck would have it there seemed to be a lull in the fuel crisis and we were all able to fill our cars on return.  Without the enthusiastic encouragement of Sue Fenwick it would have been difficult to get the show on the road.  Sue and her team do so much to keep the beautiful Bvumba forests in the pristine condition we see them in, thank you Sue.  Sue put me in touch with Rupert and Pru Hildebrand, who, for the last three trips I have done to the Bvumba, have been away.  Thank you Rupert and Pru for giving us such a warm welcome and for giving us so much of your time.  It was great to get the little tit bits of information about your Burma Valley Farm and to be taken to see the flowering Rafia palm and the plantation of Dendrocalamus giganteus, the giant bamboo, these little corners of the farm we would not have seen without your guidance.

Peter, Jim and Mark in serious discussion. Photo: Dawn Siemers

Peter, Jim and Mark in serious discussion. Photo: Dawn Siemers

A new Bvumba experience for me was the drive down Essex Road, magic and this bit of forest to be explored on another occasion.  However, the reason I had this lone adventure was because I had misinterpreted instructions as to how to get to Magrugada, the Fairy Forest pad of Roger Castelin.  We do thank you Roger for your guidance and hospitality.  It was also great to have Peter Buttress with us again whose knowledge and enthusiasm never wavers.  Must also mention how good it was to see Tessa Ball again, thank you for joining us.

Meg and Mark in action. Photo: Dawn Siemers

Meg and Mark in action. Photo: Dawn Siemers

The main objective in organizing a weekend such as this, is, of course, botanizing and to have had both Mark Hyde and Meg Coates Palgrave was great.  Fountains of knowledge, both of you, and what is more is the generous and patient way you share your knowledge with us all.

The Bvumba/Burma Valley is a great destination for a botanizing weekend and I am sure one that can be explored again and again.


-Mary Lovemore


Tree Society weekend at Seldomseen in the Vumba (16 – 19th November 2018)

Twelve of us arrived, like the 12 apostles of the Tree Society, from Harare in the early afternoon on Friday at Seldomseen in the Vumba.  Later that evening we were joined by a few local folk from the Vumba and Burma Valley as well as our hosts at Seldomseen, Sue and Ken Worsley.   A lively and tasty dinner together set us up for a fabulous weekend of botanising and socialising.

Taking a break in Madrugada Forest. Photo: Julie Stevenson

Taking a break in Madrugada Forest. Photo: Julie Stevenson

This was my first – my maiden voyage – for a weekend away into the weird and fascinating world of trees and botanising with the Tree Society. The experience seemed, at times, like navigating into new and mysterious territory.  Humble little green plants, which I stumbled past in my ignorance, were pounced upon by the ‘fetishists’ (by that I mean the knowledgeable botanists) whereupon it was examined, discussed, photographed, samples taken, notes written, more discussion and eventually left alone to grow on quietly. Trees, some too majestic and inaccessible to reach, were examined with binoculars, books spread out, apps at the ready. Now and then, the ever agile Bilal was ready to scale a knotty tree or scramble heroically up a vertical incline on the side of the road, to reach the leaves or fruit for identification.

Bilal clambering for a leaf. Photo: Julie Sevenson

Bilal clambering for a leaf. Photo: Julie Sevenson

Our weekend of botanising pivoted around Zimbabwe’s most hallowed of tree experts:  ‘The Meg’ (Meg Coats Palgrave).   She walked and scrambled over every bit of tricky terrain that we did, using her stick, calls, for help and her bottom, in her determination to get down a ravine to see the raffia palms, or the Giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus giganteus) in the sweltering Burma Valley.  Neither was she daunted by the steep and narrow paths through the dark pristine forests of Madrugada.. The alarmingly cruel and ruthless fig trees we saw (such as Ficus sur and Ficus chirindensis.) having slowly snuffed out the life of their host trees, have formed a mesmerising criss- cross of branches roots, producing a scene scape fit for a futuristic film set.

Julie in front of the giant bamboo. Photo: Julie Stevenson

Julie in front of the giant bamboo. Photo: Julie Stevenson

Our Saturday was spent in the Burma Valley, in the hands of the calm and knowledgeable Rupert Hildebrand.  Having descended from about 1600m up at Seldomseen, we plunged down to around 670m into the Burma Valley.  A long lunch in Christine Hildebrand’s garden followed and we sprawled and panted and ate our packed lunches in the deep shade.

Sunday morning  was spent at  Roger Castelin’s ‘Madraguda’ Lodge and forest.  Magraguda means pre-dawn in Portuguese, and his lodges offer the most spectacular views across to the East into Mozambique.

The view from Roger's mountain pad. Photo: Dawn Siemers

The view from Roger’s mountain pad. Photo: Dawn Siemers

The impression overall of this fascinating trip was one of sharing knowledge and humour  with good people in beautiful and varied environments.   As The Meg said to me:  ‘It’s not what you know, it’s your interest in learning and your curiosity that count.’  It was a truly mind-awakening weekend for me, and I will be back as soon as possible for another field trip.  Thanks to all of you for sharing.



Julie Stevenson


The new Tree Society of Zimbabwe Website

 Ever since I joined the Tree Society Committee, mention has been made of wanting a new website which members of the committee can control. We wanted a website where we could store all the past newsletters, Tree Life, and to this end Mary has laboriously re-typed all the old newsletters. These were all on newsprint which have since become yellow/brownish with age and are difficult to read. Recent numbers of Tree Life that were emailed to members were much easier to handle as it was a matter of copy and paste – handling the photos was a bit trickier.    One of the main criteria for the new web site, apart from it being an archive for the history of the Society, was for it to have a search facility.

Well, at last this has happened, we now have a new website:   which does a lot more than the above.  Besides the Home Page, we have pages for activities, forthcoming outings and articles on various tree bits and pieces under Discover Trees. We also looked at putting on Parasitic Plants (epiphites) as a section as we often come across them in our outings. However, there is a section for this in the Flora of Zimbabwe website to which we have a link.  We also have the Gallery – loads and loads of photos which can be added to, deleted or swapped out.   A new section under activities will be reports and overviews of weekend outings such as the one we have just been on at Seldomseen.

Without the search facility, the site would not be very useful – this is how it works:

Click on the magnifying glass search symbol  “ Q “   – this will bring up a box which you can type in.

In the box, type (or paste in) the name of what you want to search for – tree or a person name or even a term  – in fact anything can be searched for!  This searches the whole website for a match and lists all the newsletters or pages where the search criteria have been met.  If there is no match, it will display “No result”.

Clicking on the new search symbol  “ Q “   will bring up more detailed information. But you don’t have to get the more detailed information; you can simply click which Tree Life or page you want to look at.

Once in the selected page or Tree Life you will find it very difficult to find what you want as nothing is highlighted. However, if you now press Control “f” (ctrl) and “f” at the same time, another search box comes up on the top right hand side of the screen.  Paste or type in what you want to search for and all the occurrences of what you searched for will be highlighted in yellow save for the first one which will be highlighted in light brown. The box also tells you how many times the word(s) searched for are in the  page/newsletter if you see 1/8 that means there are eight matches and the first has been  highlighted in light brown.  You can use the up/down arrows in the box to navigate through the page or newsletter.  You can also put in another name or whatever else you want to search  – have fun!

The Tree Society, for financial reasons, would not have been able to embark on this new Website project without the help of Mark Hyde who is very kindly providing the space and facility for hosting the new Tree Society of Zimbabwe Website.  Grateful thanks to you Mark.

We must also mention here the great help we have received from our Website designer Tim Masson, whose expertise and knowledge and patience have been amazing.

-Tony Alegria



There was a well-attended service at Terry’s funeral at the Nazareth House chapel on Tuesday, 2nd October.

The following details were kindly supplied to me by Kevin Fallon: Terry was the 3rd child of Patrick and Ethel Fallon. There was his sister Kathleen followed by his older brother Patrick, Terence and then came Mick. All the boys went to St Georges, with Terence being a school prefect, playing first team cricket and rugby, and also being a senior member of the saints boxing team.

From Saints, Terry went to Pietermaritzburg University in Natal. He studied for and obtained a Batchelor of Science in Agriculture. Whilst at Maritzburg he continued to play sport, representing the university at cricket, rugby and baseball.

Terry came back to what was then Rhodesia and became a director and 50% shareholder in a company called Wallace, Fallon and Co. He joined Tobacco Sales in 1958, and after experiencing all aspects of the industry, being Head Growers Representative, Leaf Manager in 1969,  he was appointed General Manager of Tobacco Sales Limited in 1970.

Terry was the life and soul of the party in the old days, and everybody who knew him loved him. He was generous to a fault and helped anyone in need. Unfortunately, he had too much fondness for the bottle, and it eventually led to his downfall. As luck would have it, Terry met and started dating Maryanne “Bubbles” Harrison in 1992 . Bubbles had a huge influence in weaning terry off the bottle, and with his willpower and her encouragement, Terry was able to cure his alcoholism.

From the mid-nineties Terry became a councillor with the Alcoholics Anonymous, and helped cure many people of their problems, helping them back onto the straight and narrow, and allowing them to lead normal lives again. Terry and Bubbles were together for a long time. In due course Bubbles was afflicted by Alzheimer’s, Terry helped nurse her through this time until she passed away, and then started helping ZARDA, the Zimbabwe Alzheimers and Related Disorders Association.

Terry was a founder member of the Nomads Golf Club, an organisation that over the years has given huge amounts of money that it has raised, to charity. He was at various times a member of Old Georgians and Old Hararians sports clubs, Chapman Golf Club, Salisbury and District Angling Society, and Stragglers Cricket.

Terry was on the committees of Birdlife and the Tree Society, and also helped at Mukuvisi Woodlands. He was passionate about nature and the environment.

Terry, you were a friend to all, you helped so many people get over their problems. We will all miss you, but all of us have great memories of the man you were, and the great times we spent with you.

Mark Hyde adds:

As Kevin’s account testifies, Terry was a great volunteer and served on many committees. He was on the Committee of the Tree Society for many years and was Treasurer. Terry was a hard-working and reliable member of the Committee. If Terry said he would do something, then he always did it. He will be greatly missed.

-Mark Hyde



Anthocleista grandifloraRaffia palm Photo by Mark Hyde