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Phuket Gardening: Alpha shrubs start with ‘A’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gardening: Alpha shrubs start with ‘A’ | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Last week we considered annuals, but today it is the turn of their big brothers – the shrubs and ornamental trees that form the backbone of any tropical garden (click here for last week’s article).

Acalypha hispida
, also known as the chenille plant or red cat’s tail, is alphabetically the first to come under scrutiny. Unlike its cousin, A. wilkesiana or Jacob’s coat, which is grown entirely for its unique, multi-colored foliage, hispida has conventional leaves, but the most unconventional of flowers – masses of long crimson catkins which hang down beneath the foliage. These blooms feel soft and velvety to the touch – hence the colloquial name of cat’s tail.

It is a tolerant plant which will put up with poor soil, provided you give it a sunny position and a reasonable supply of water. Granted the right conditions, it will bloom freely all year round. The only proviso is that it may need pruning, since it can become leggy. Often used as an informal hedge or in dramatic groups, the chenille plant is one of the best starter plants for the inexperienced gardener. It is also easily propagated from cuttings.

Another distinctive shrub, but far removed from the chenille plant in appearance, is the adenium obesum or desert rose. Also a favorite with Thais, the adenium is basically a desert plant, a succulent which stores water in its thick, knobbly, sometimes leafless stems. Indeed for some growers, these grey, distended stems are the principal attraction, though it does produce trumpet shaped flowers and club-shaped, glossy foliage. Rarely grown in open beds, the desert rose is usually found in rock gardens or containers. An ideal choice for a pot since it will thrive in dry conditions. An occasional drenching is all it requires. In fact the adenium is much more likely to succumb to over-watering (which leads to stem and root rot) than to under-watering. If you do plant it out, the desert rose is a perfect candidate for a xeric regime.

In Thailand the desert rose has been extensively hybridized: the common pale pink, plumeria-like flowers, which appear on rather gaunt branches, now often superceded by more dramatic white, cream edged with deep crimson, or vivid red blooms. Horticulturalists tend to prune top growth to encourage flowering, but in truth, the plant is such a slow grower that it is often treated as a bonsai specimen. Personally I would let well alone unless it becomes too leggy. Propagate from calloused cuttings left overnight to dry out.

When I drew up a list of top twenty shrubs a couple of years ago, the allamanda topped the list. I have no reason to change that opinion. It wins on many counts: one, as a beautiful flowering shrub possessing huge yellow trumpets with a golden center; two, because it is tolerant of almost any conditions; three, because it has attractive glossy evergreen foliage which is a perfect foil for the flowers; and four because it seems immune to disease of any kind.

At the height of the recent driest season for years, it continued to bloom and bloom. If the allamanda has a fault, it is that although technically a vine, it does not produce tendrils, so it is unable to attach itself to adjacent surfaces. The whole luxurious structure of branches, stems, leaves and flowers, can easily become top heavy without support of some kind. But trained to a trellis or tied to a wall, it looks magnificent.

There is also a yellow, bushy variety with narrow leaves and smaller blooms, often used as a roadside border plant, and a dusty pink variety, A. blanchetti which does twine more effectively, but lacks the dramatic impact of its golden cousin.

What of more ‘A’s such as acacias, and abutilons?

Well, they will have to wait in the wings for another time.

If you have a question or a garden that you would like featured, you can email the author here.

Keep checking our online
Phuket Lifestyle pages and join our Facebook fan page for regular gardening features and tips.

This article appears in the current (May 18-24, 2013) issue of the hard-copy Phuket Gazette newspaper, now on sale at newsstands throughout the island. Digital subscribers may download the full newspaper, this week and every week, by clicking
here.

— Patrick Campbell

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Thailand

Average hotel prices drop in Thailand in 2018

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Average hotel prices drop in Thailand in 2018 | The Thaiger

The latest Hotel Price Index (HPI) released by Hotels.com reveals no sign of a slowdown for the global travel industry. Prices are up for overnight accommodation by 3% globally in 2018 across every regional index, except for the Pacific region, including Thailand.

Hotel.com has 85 websites in 34 languages, and lists over 325,000 hotels in approximately 19,000 locations. Its inventory includes hotels and B&Bs, and some condos and other types of commercial lodging.

Travellers to and around Thailand paid an average price of 1,720 baht a night for their domestic accommodation last year, a 7% drop compared to 2017, and paid the same average price of 4,437 baht a night for international accommodation in both 2018 and 2017.

The growth in travel comes despite global uncertainties including Brexit, California wildfires, South African drought and Japanese earthquakes. Travellers also showed resilience and renewed confidence in destinations touched by unrest: Paris, Egypt, Turkey; regions experiencing currency fluctuation: South America; and areas affected by natural disaster: North America.

Despite the overall growth in global accommodation prices, average prices paid for domestic accommodation in Thailand have decreased, with average prices for international beds remaining stable.

SOURCE: The Nation | Hotel.com

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Bangkok

Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport

The Thaiger

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Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport | The Thaiger

The Thai cabinet yesterday approved the construction of a third runway at Suvarnabhumi International Airport as part of the country’s ambition to become the aviation hub of ASEAN.

The 21.7 billion baht project will increase the combined capacity of Suvarnabhumi international airport’s runways to 94 arrivals and departures per hour from the current 64, said Lt-Gen Weerachon Sukonthapatipak, deputy government spokesman.

Suvarnabhumi Airport (aka. BKK) was opened in 2006 as Bangkok’s second airport. Initially it replaced the tired Don Mueang Airport but Don Mueang was later revamped as a low-coast airport to service the growing traffic demands.

Meanwhile Suvarnabhumi Airport was, and still is, operating above its designed capacity. An earlier bid to build a third terminal has been mired in controversy and is currently shelved pending a new brief from Airports of Thailand with a new round of design bids called for in the future.

Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport | News by The Thaiger

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People

Patong’s trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal

The Thaiger

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Patong’s trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Patong Police / Theeraphong Penmit / Newshawk Phuket

A Phuket boy has been rewarded after setting an excellent example for the rest of the Patong community.

8 year old Kosin Ta-ngam, who is studying at Sai Nam Yen School in Patong in Pratom Suksa Three, has been collecting garbage in the filthy Pak Bang Canal and along Patong Beach since the beginning of this year.

He lives with his grandmother and other relatives. His grandmother has been looking after Kosin since he was 10 months old.

A certificate, scholarship and life vest have been awarded to Kosin by the Patong Police Chief Col Anothai Jindamanee for displaying excellent citizen for the community as a youth volunteer and being an active part of keeping the city clean.

The Pak Bang Canal, running through the back of Patong into Patong Bay, has been a dark, dirty mess for decades. Many promises have been made to clean it up but it remains a disgraceful waterway flowing through Phuket’s main tourist town.

The tiny eight year old seems to be able to achieve a lot more than the local municipality with all their money and machinery.

Kosin, you are the Thaiger hero for today and we salute you!

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

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