Tuesday 3 January 2012

Thai gardens part 2

When the wind and rain is being scary outside and with all that Christmas nonsense out the way what better thing to do than write more about Thailand!

Sadly the cloud trees at the palace were too big to accidentally slip into my bag. I love these so much and always forget how big they are (these are about 12 ft?) should be easy to replicate

Firstly though I hope Christmas was good for everyone and that Santa has fulfilled your gardening dreams. Here Santa brought back 4 forks that had been bent during digging cunningly put back into shape, 2 bird boxes (I’m all about saving the pandas) and a couple of books. Beth Chattos dry garden I’m enjoying, especially the language but I realise I am guilty of ‘hat pin gardening’. ‘Planting the dry shade garden’ I also like, but the breadth of plants isn’t quite as diverse as I would like with lots of the usual suspects and a few random ones like hostas?!  I hope Santa has been good to you too!
Anyway, Thailand...... I wish I was still there, over New Year we were with our friend Helen who has just got back from -10 in Canada and she sat there saying its very hot, and we were saying its very cold....

Gardening in Thailand is interesting as they aren’t into gardening in the same way as we are in the UK, and as everything grows so rampantly it is more about controlling nature than celebrating it. As a result there is lots of mowed grass, things in pots and topiary. There is also a big nod to imitate some Western style gardens with some classical Greek sculpture and hideous rose gardens that don’t grow well.
The plants can make you feel rather small.....Steven in the Suan Pakard palace gardens

Simple planting with cycads and a giant Chinese warrior at the palace
I’m also surprised at the lack of diversity in the tropical plants they use, as Thailand has a huge flora yet the same plants are used again and again including many species from Africa and South America. The result seems to be that if you are in a hotel in Thailand, Bali or Mexico the planting looks identical. I would imagine that this would change over time, as in the UK people have been obsessing and breeding plants for hundreds of years and in the tropics it’s a bit newer, but it would be great to see more of a celebration of an areas unique flora as Thailand has some amazing native plants.

Public park, much like our own...grass, lake, path but with lots of fab palms. Sad memorial in the middle to a queen and princess who died when the boat they were in on a northern river began to sink, they couldnt swim and couldnt be touched by commoners/servants who watched them drown 

Anyway, saying that there are still some fabulous plants to see and cloud trees to salivate over and also some ideas to take home.
Lotus's in pots also make me cry as they are so beuatiful, so simple

Musa laterita? behind some palms. very easy to do at home with chamerops and a basjoo

Musa Siam Ruby???? in the grounds of the Four Seasons
As part of our break we flew up to Chaing mai, the old northern capital where we stayed at the Four Seasons which Helens book on 1000 places to see before you die infomed us is a must do. I hadnt realised how good the planting was until we left the complex to cycle to a local temple (yes I do sport). At the Four Seasons they acheive a confident and naturalistic style which I had assumed was just cultivated wilderness, but beyond the grounds the natural vegetation is scrubbier, drier and less lush looking. Fabulous as this is exactly what I want to do in my own garden.

Great use of a natural stream, no idea what the big leafed plants are but would guess at some type of musa/canna family

Random flowers

They used groundcover a lot, here a type of lily grass very similar to ones here

Everyone needs a random monster emerging from the vegetation to scare children

From our cycle ride, lots of young teak trees with huge leaves

Local orchid farm where they seem to grow like weeds. They all grow in little cups with no soil, just their long roots hanging down

Hotel shrine, the Ganesh obsession gets worse!

All Thai building have spirit houses outside, this is a typical one for a house near the river

Not everything in Thailand is chic! a random Daffy Duck in the grounds of a temple in Chaing Mai


  1. Lots of really lovely photos. The Orchids is interesting that they grow with no soil.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. Gorgeous photos, so many planting ideas you can pick and adapt to our own gardens. As you've said the Nelumbo in the pot looks great, just a shame it can take ages for nelumbos to get going in our location without the use of heated pots (but N. 'Perry Slocum' is one of the more reliable ones.

    Obsession with gardening is such a British trait, with warmer countries not having the same regard for plants despite their more 'ideal' locations. Residents of tropical countries tend to hide away from the heat rather than bask in it by doing outdoor activities like gardening :)