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A Whiter Shade of Pale
White has so many associations – positively, it intimates innocence and purity; adversely, coldness and sterility. In Thailand, judging by the dominance of white in floral garlands, it is often identified with good fortune.
Feeling lucky, Plant? Make your day with the dahlia.
Thais are seriously superstitious. There are lucky days when big decisions must be taken, and unlucky days when everything must be put on hold. Lotteries are a national obsession. Ghostly, pale-faced presences haunt every soap opera, bringing misfortune to those who fall foul of their gaze. Good or bad karma are part and parcel of quotidian experience.
Untangling the complex and world-wide botanical web
Because the climate here in Thailand is so conducive to growth, we tend to assume that most ornamental plants in our tropic gardens originated in Thailand or at least Southeast Asia. Not true. Sometimes by happenstance, mostly by design, perhaps our flora has fetched up here from other corners of the globe.
Phuket Gardening: Going for gold with Allamandas
We are well into the dry season in Phuket and all the flowering shrubs are showing off their wares. As I look out from my study, I can see a mass of golden blooms festooning the front wall of the garden.
Green Thoughts: Tales from the undergrowth
Over eons, tropical plants have learnt how to cope with a range of conditions. It is worth noting these strategies. Wherever possible, I like to try and replicate the ways and wherefores of Mother Nature. For example in tropical rainforests, and there were hectares of pristine jungle in Phuket once upon a time, there are distinct micro-climates: all the way up from the understorey level where ground-hugging, moisture-loving and sun-deprived plants clamber amid the organic detritus of leaves and humus, to the canopy where the loftiest trees are bathed in ultra-violet light and the direct caress of rain. There are natural layers in between these domains, but tropical fauna, like tropical flora, find them less important: most creatures are adapted to inhabit either the canopy (monkeys, birds) or the forest floor (deer, shrews, snakes).
Green Thoughts: Monsieur de Bougainville’s brilliant bounty
For flower power alone, the bougainvillea would come high up any list of plants to include in your tropical garden. Of all the ornamental shrubs available to gardeners in Phuket, the bougainvillea is deservedly one of the most popular.
Green Thoughts: What’s in a name?
Most tongue-twisting Latin names of plants are associated with so-called “discoveries” by Western botanist or explorers: the Bougainvillea is named after Monsieur Bougainville; the golden trumpet or Allamanda after Switzerland’s Frederich Allamanda.
Phuket Gardening: Lovely but lethal tropical plants
A reader recently wrote to me about the poisonous propensities of the nerium or oleander. I replied, noting how the goats tethered next door to my garden in Spain – and goats will eat almost anything – had always refused to touch my oleander hedge.
Phuket Gardening: Top plants for shady spots
It’s a big generalization, but on balance, the majority of potted plants available in the tropics enjoy a degree of shade.
Phuket Gardening: The proof is in the potting
Any professional horticulturist will tell you that flexible black grow-bags are the cheapest plant containers available.
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