Extracts from a dairy of a member of the Wildenburg excursion.
25.06.20, Wildenburg The joyful moment we had been waiting for for so long finally arrived today. At the crack of dawn, The Planthunter, together with its small entourage consisting of Mark and myself, decided to embark on the long-awaited expedition in faraway Wildenburg. Mark is known to be a well-equipped researcher and experienced traveller, as evidenced by the immense trust The Planthunter places in him. It is with the utmost respect that I will share the experiences of the coming journey among this select group of seasoned explorers, bound together by only one common goal: to collect the last of the rhododendron blossoms. Oh, these fruits of nature bear witness to such intense and sublime beauty, clad in yellow, orange, pink and purple hues. It is with great impatience that I look forward to the relics we will discover during this blood-curdling adventure through the wild nature of Wildenburg Castle Estate. 26.06.20, Wildenburg On the second day of the trip, the sunny, carefree summer sky of the past few days was already muddled with a sombre tone brought about by a grey cloud cover. However, The Planthunter, a tall and stately figure that presents itself as a monument, was not swayed by these ominous prospects. The conditions, as handed down to us by our predecessor and role model, the plant hunter Joseph Rock, turned out to be anything but unchanged. Obstacles such as sloping hilltops, raging water streams and wild gusts of wind repeatedly tested our perseverance. The tools came in very handy today: the pulley was used to transport the newly discovered exotic and symbiotic Orchid over the river, the saw was used to get rid of the many obstacles, yet The Wardian case remained unused and empty, since the day ended without us finding the coveted rhododendron blossoms... 27.06.20, Wildenburg The Planthunter remained uncompromisingly unshakable, displaying its characteristic strength, equivalent to that of an antique column supporting a pediment, or that of the trunk of a vertically and hierarchically grown tree, or resonating with the vigour of the hunted plant species, the stubborn rhododendron, which is able to navigate through the most inhospitable wilderness to annex a new colony. Proceeding slowly but steadily along the horizon of the landscape, our modest caravan looks out onto the rhizomatic network of branching paths and intertwining narratives, reminiscent of the underground roots of this exotic yet globalist and imperialist plant species (make no mistake, the rhododendron, too, can manifest itself as a towering and monumental tree; Joseph Rock, for example, first discovered the species in the form of a 35-metre-tall specimen in the Hengduan Shan mountains). 28.06.2020, Wildenburg The burning sun suddenly illuminated a leafy jewel, which instantaneously emitted a purple halo. At first, I could not believe my eyes when I spotted the lilac dot amidst the dark green mass, and I could only free myself from the illusionary effect the moment Mark and The Planthunter joined me in my observation. The discovery of this last, flowering wreath filled our collective minds with joy (you should know that at the end of June all rhododendrons have already finished flowering). Mark immediately took out his knife and pressed a single flower between the pages of a book to preserve it as archival material. The remaining plant was stored in the Wardian case for efficient transport. It suddenly dawned on us that many botanical relics would still cross our path, a joyous sensation that was celebrated at the evening campfire. Diary extract from curator Koi Persyn, written during his expedition in Wildenburg with artist Mark Grootes and his sculpture The Planthunter.