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Phuket Gardening: Books on tropical gardening

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gardening: Books on tropical gardening | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Much of the knowledge one acquires about plants is learnt in the acid-bath of experience. And certainly there is no substitute for hands-on gardening. How often we find ourselves puzzled by the advice we find in books by so-called “experts”.

Nonetheless, we often do need to check things – names, cultural requirements, growing habits and so on. And different books are useful in different ways.

The very first book I bought in Thailand has proven to be one of the most serviceable.

Its dog-eared appearance testifies to that. Entitled, A Field Guide to Tropical Plants of Asia, its authors, David Engel and Suchart Plummai, have conveniently divided things into main sections: trees, listed by flower, foliage and fruit; shrubs, vines and ground cover plants are all classified in the same way.

Flowers are grouped according to color: red, pink, yellow and white. Each description of flower, fruit or foliage, is accompanied by a color photograph (300 in all).

Botanical names are followed by common English ones and Thai phonetic equivalents.

Especially useful if you are visiting a plant nursery. Just open the appropriate page and sing out the Thai name.

First published in 2000, by Marshall Cavendish, it has been reprinted many times – an indication of its enduring popularity.

It retails at around 900 baht. Some information about nomenclature is out of date, but then there is an ongoing discussion about plant categories.

Tropical Garden Plants
, by William Warren, (Thames and Hudson, 2001) is a more substantial opus, with 449 color illustrations. It has more information about each entry, and the photographs, by a professional, are especially fine.

My main cavil is that while the chapters are logical enough – trees, shrubs, annuals, foliage plants, vines and so on – the non-alphabetical arrangement means constant forays into the index to locate a particular species.

Having said that, its later sections on exotics, water plants, palms and orchids might usefully be emulated by other writers.

An odd title for a seriously weighty tome, Plant Materials in Thailand, by Uamporn Veesommai and Thaya Janjitikul, is the closest you will get to an exhaustive, yet compendious reference book.

Primarily for local consumption with plants indexed alphabetically in Thai, there is a helpful parallel text in English and 1,320 photographs of the country’s flora. It has, once and for all, solved the myriad of questions I have had over the years about flowering tropical plants. If you want to put a name to a floral face, you will assuredly find the answer here. Expensive, but encyclopedic. A must for the serious gardener.

In the quest for good horticultural books, I have extended the net beyond Thailand. Two books match the detail of plant materials. One is the self – explanatory Complete Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs (Thunder Bay Press, 2001).

Published in California, I picked up my copy in Sri Lanka, of all places. Compiled by a large team, it does not cover non-shrubby flowers, and has a distinct North American bias, which means that, “south of the border, down Mexico way”, is dealt with less comprehensively. Vines are excluded. Small cavils in a book that describes 8,500 woody plants, many illustrated. It is superb on trees. Another remarkable piece of botanical research.

Coincidentally, last year at the bookshop of California’s Stanford University I discovered Western Garden. West Coast America is not Thailand, and this book consequently has limitations. Moreover, the illustrations are mostly the work of artists – good in themselves, but no substitute for photographs. But both coverage and organization are excellent: plants are described alphabetically according to their botanical names, and the cultivation notes are very full. Yet another book for the keen gardener.

Tip of the week: Separation and division
At various times, I have talked about propagating and reproducing plants by seed, layering, cuttings and division. Some so-called “mother plants” give birth to plantlets, which can be separated from their parent.

I was reminded of separation and division after reading a piece written by Normita Thongtham in which she visits a garden that specializes in ferns.

Ferns mostly regenerate by producing tiny spores, which appear on the underside of leaves. And, like many seeds, these spores can result in new plants which are “sports” or mutations, quite different from the parent. As the fern grower remarked of a neprolepis fern: “I’ve never seen one (new plant), which grew to look exactly like it”. Fascinating.

But, if you must have an exact copy of the parent, the only way is by plant division. This is the best method for most gingers, cannas and heliconias – as well as ferns.

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 or join our Facebook fan page for regular gardening features and tips.

— Patrick Campbell

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

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Thailand

21% of Thai teenagers are gambling

Greeley Pulitzer

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21% of Thai teenagers are gambling | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Gambling, local style, Rai Et, north-east Thailand – Pinterest

Early in October the Thai Health Promotion Foundation met to discuss the gambling situation in Thailand in 2019. Also present were the Centre for Gambling Studies, Stop Gambling Foundation and related groups.

The meeting was set up after a report revealed that more than half (57%) of the Thai population, or 30.42 million people, gamble. The director-general of the Centre for Gambling Studies at Chulalongkorn University shared the report, which was based on data from a survey of 44,050 people across 77 provinces.

The figure is an increase of 1.49 million people from 2017. While most Thai gamblers are of working age, 2.4% of the total were aged between 15-18 years. This means that 21% of that age group are gambling.

According to California’s Council on Problem Gambling, youth, like everyone else, gamble for many reasons, including entertainment; socialisation; competition; loneliness, and boredom; to get rich quick; to impress others; be the centre of attention; make new friends, and because winning provides an instant, temporary boost of confidence.

“The California Council on Problem Gambling lists depression as one reason youth turn to gambling, noting that depression can just as easily be an effect as a cause. This is especially important to note in a country like Thailand.”

In an article in The ASEAN Post, it was noted that in December 2017, Thailand’s Department of Mental Health (DMH) reported that an estimated one million teenagers are believed to suffer from depression, many of whom go untreated, with two million more are at risk, making upward of three million among a population of eight million teens then.

The DMH said that stress and anxiety may affect a student’s ability to concentrate and perform well at school, and they may show several warning signs, such as lack of attention, loss of interest in daily activities, lethargy, sadness, and sleeping issues.

“It is clear from studies that depression and gambling go hand-in-hand: the unfortunate case in Thailand is that it is affecting children too.”

SOURCE: The ASEAN Post

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Bangkok

Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare

Greeley Pulitzer

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Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare | The Thaiger

A professor of Rangsit University has criticised the previous military government for focusing too much on tourism and not enough on the welfare of the Thai people. The professor was speaking at Chulalongkorn University at a seminar discussing street stalls and urban development.

She questioned the National Council for Peace and Order’s policy of clearing street vendors in all but a few areas such as Yaowarat and Khao San Road that mainly cater to tourists.

She claimed that the NCPO – in power since the coup of 2014 until this year’s election – was more interested in economic development through tourism than in the welfare of the public.

Having affordable street food options was not just about tourism, she said, it was vital for poor workers who have migrated from the countryside, adding that it was part of an informal rather than a formal economy.

“For years people had earned their living from selling goods and services, including food, on the streets.”

This in turn provided an affordable option to eat for workers who came to Bangkok on for large investment projects. The issue, she said, was not just about tourism but the wider economy that might benefit.

The professor noted that CNN had once called Bangkok the best place in the world for street food but this had changed with the sanitized food trucks that have appeared since stalls and vendors were banned from most areas.

The Thaiger notes that banning street vendors has divided the capital. Many are happy that the sidewalks are easier to navigate, but others – including tourists – have said that the lifeblood and character of the city has suffered.

SOURCE: Naew Na | ThaiVisa Forum

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