Connect with us

Thai Life

Gardening: Turning over a new leaf

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

PHUKET: Tropical gardens, for a variety of reasons, need plenty of attention. Take the case of Patima’s garden in a local housing estate. Her busy life as a computer expert means that she has little time for horticultural activities, and her partner is more interested in compression ratios than common oleanders. Get the picture?

A low-upkeep garden which, laudably, Patima both wants to improve and to set out as an object lesson for other busy readers who are new to gated community life or whose gardens maybe need attention.

The plot, on three sides of the property is not large, but therein lies one of the problems. One area, originally laid with Malaysia grass, is now mostly bare soil. The culprits are a large Indian cork tree (millingtonia) at one corner and an evergreen mango, with a dense crown nearby. A second cork tree stands guard at another focal point. Nearer the house are two very substantial royal palms.

I have nothing against Indian cork trees: they look beautiful with their distinctive pendant white blooms. But these specimens, apparently planted as mature trees seven years ago, are now so large that they are usurping all the sunlight and, with their large root systems, most of the nutrients in the restricted space. As a general rule, roots and branches spread over similarly broad areas, so the impact made by these subterranean radicals is profound.

Add to that the issue of falling leaves and especially that of soil. I have often written about the poor soil in Phuket, a condition exacerbated by builders who scrape off the scanty organic loam, or bury it beneath sub-soil dredged up from the foundations. Here the existing earth is clearly in need of a transfusion.

Borders, though not clearly defined, exist near the perimeters of the property, and a few shrubs are valiantly struggling with the conditions – for example a couple of yellow Peruvians, some leggy polyscias, which both need pruning, and nearer the house, some gardenias.

In front of the portico, and coincidentally where there’s more light, things looks healthier. The steps are flanked by two large, neatly clipped ficus benjaminas. They look in reasonable nick, about two meters tall, though the leaves are not as dense as they should be, and the root systems are precariously close to the house foundations. Between these and the front gate are two sizeable foxtail palms, somewhat past their best.

A mixed picture. So where should we start? Back to basics with the soil. It would be a good idea to make raised borders at the perimeters by adding top soil or mixing the existing stuff with bags of compost, adding some granular fertilizer and then maybe defining the edges with natural stone or small bricks.

The area inside the front and side wall could then be planted with small hardy shrubs such as ixoras, tabernaemontanas, russelias and periwinkles, or larger shrubs such as murrayas, gardenias, or durantas. Bougainvilleas, which are both colorful and tolerant, would be ideal. Maybe variegated foliage plants – dracaenas or crotons, even a climber or two such as allamanda with its yellow trumpets, or a free-blooming Rangoon creeper. .

Container plants are worth considering, especially in the short term, since they are a moveable feast. Ones that do well in pots with minimal attention include euphorbias (crown of thorns) and adeniums. I noticed a solitary adenium near the front gate. It needs some companions.

On the right hand side of the garden is a fine row of wrightias, again neatly trimmed to form a hedge that in part screens the property from the neighboring one. Further back are some bananas which could be supplemented by fan palms from the same family.

The shady area to the left is more problematic. Mature trees are lovely: in any case cutting them down is expensive – as I know to my cost. But the massive, coarse-barked millingtonia either needs to be pruned and shaped, or removed entirely. There will still be pockets of shade so I would suggest that the borders there be planted with understorey plants that should adapt to conditions – once the soil is improved. My suggestions would include diffenbachias, aglaonemas, spathyphyllums, alocasias and anthuriums. They could either go in pots or in the open border.

As for the grass, it is probably best forgotten, at least in the bare areas. I would opt for a covering of pebbles, with maybe some squares of natural stone. Less upkeep for busy people who nonetheless cherish their gardens

Tip of the week: Robust ruellias

I have commented before on the surge in popularity for wild petunias or ruellias. This flower was rarely seen in Phuket a decade ago, but is now a common sight in public plantings. That’s because it is very easy to grow and ruellias flower more or less continuously and come in two attractive shades – deep pink and a distinctive violet.

Slender-leaved ruellias cope well with most situations, but prefer moist soil.

Plant nursery owners know this: once their ruellias get leggy and start to bloom less, they cut them back to a few inches and re-pot the cuttings. The success rate is very high, so in no time at all, you can have a bed of these distinctive flowers. Remember though that the ruellia is not dubbed the ‘three o’clock flower’ for nothing, as the papery blooms fall in mid-afternoon.

If you have gardening or environmental concerns, contact Patrick at drpaccampbell@gmail.com. Many of his creative and academic publications can be found at his website: Green Galoshes WordPress.

— Patrick Campbell

 

Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Tourism58 mins ago

US Warns its citizens against traveling to Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 hour ago

Embassy of France in Thailand starts vaccine campaign for French nationals ages 55+

Road deaths2 hours ago

Driver killed after truck crashes from bridge, explodes in Hat Yai

Phuket Sandbox July 1st

days
hours
minutes
seconds

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Bangkok2 hours ago

Bangkok public hospitals run low on beds for Covid-19 patients in critical condition

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Lao woman rejected while trying to register for Covid-19 vaccine

Hong Kong3 hours ago

First person charged under Hong Kong security law goes to trial – without a jury

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Medical researchers look into combining vaccines to beat Delta variant

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Wednesday Covid Update: 3,174 new cases and 51 deaths

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Restrictions eased in yellow zones

Phuket5 hours ago

It’s happening: Phuket sandbox approved by Cabinet

Thailand19 hours ago

Thailand News Today | AoT warns about tourist exuberance, easing of restrictions | June 22

Coronavirus (Covid-19)20 hours ago

CCSA: Bars to stay closed for now, drunk customers risk the spread of Covid-19

Bangkok20 hours ago

Woman dies after jumping from Phra Khanong BTS station in Bangkok

Coronavirus (Covid-19)21 hours ago

263 covid cases linked to canned seafood factory in Songkhla

Drugs21 hours ago

Narcotics Control Board announce recent drug busts, heroin and cocaine sent by mail

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending