PHUKET: This week opens the ‘last chance saloon’ door to a few more multicolored foliage shrubs. And in fact, two or three are consistent performers and might rightly feel miffed if not given a mention.
Indeed one, sanchezia nobile, prompted an enthusiastic Floridian to write on the web as follows: “Does anybody know about this plant? I saw it here in town and I just had to get a cutting.” I don’t know if he found what he wanted, but the good news for Phuketians is that not only will it grow readily from cuttings, but that it is readily available in plant nurseries here.
Sometimes confused with the codiaeum (croton), its leaves are quite similar, since sanchezia has similarly deep green, oval foliage with deep yellow or white veining.
Glossy and leathery, the spectacular leaves, produced in opposite pairs, are comparable in size to those of the croton – up to a foot long in the right conditions.
And the right conditions mean good soil, a consistent supply of water and full or filtered sun. Potted specimens, for example, will wilt rapidly if the soil is allowed to dry out.
While it does not have the spectrum of colors possessed by the croton, this tropical American native named after a certain Dr Sanchez, has other compensations. It is a fast grower, makes a sizable bush (up to five feet) and has quite showy yellow flowers with bright tubular red bracts. Right now, it is blooming away in my patch.
Our Floridian friend said these blooms looked like hibiscus flowers, but I put that observation down to an aberrant memory – or an excess of enthusiasm. But the shrub is well worth a try and makes an unusual addition to your flower bed. If you want a bushier plant, remember to pinch out the growing tips.
The next plant comes with a health warning. Its common name, “the blindness tree”, affords a clue – the sap is toxic and may be injurious to the eyes, though it does also have medicinal uses.
The shrub that’s in question, excoecaria cochinchinensis (the latter epithet is simply an old word for Vietnam), is a bushy, woody shrub, with masses of shiny, papery leaves.
What make it distinctive is that the upsides of the leaves are dark green (sometimes with white or pinkish variegations), but are deep maroon underneath. It is becoming increasingly popular here: one cultivar, “firestone”, has strongly contrasting leaf coloration. Its dense habit means it can be used as a hedge or border plant and will tolerate clipping. Distinctly useful.
Last through the swinging doors is polyscias, sometimes referred to as panax. This is another shrub that can be brought into service as a hedging plant and is often employed in this fashion by Thai gardeners. Strictly speaking it is more a two-tone variegated plant than a multi-colored one, rarely deviating from green and white patterned foliage.
Quercifolia (oak-leaved), the commonest variety here, has smallish, wavy-edged foliage and a vertical habit. If you intend to use it for a barrier or border you will need to put the young plants close together. Trim the top growth if you want a bushier specimen.
Polyscias is hardy, and will tolerate low levels of moisture. Moreover, it is evergreen and there are increasingly attractive varieties available. Marginata, for example, has dramatic blotches of bright yellow on the leaf edges. The shrub has achieved a new lease of life as a house plant, especially in America, where there are many cultivars with varied leaf shapes. “Ruffles”, “parsley” and “spinach” should give you a clue.
Enough to be going on with? I think so.
Tip of the week: Controlling pests
Employ chemical controls, including pesticides, only as a last resort. If you maintain good cultural practices and if your plants are consequently robust and healthy, they are less likely to be attacked, or to succumb to disease.
Choose plants that are right for a tropical climate, select plants for specific conditions in your garden such as shade or sun, prepare planting beds well with plenty of organic matter, and water, fertilize and prune as required. Check your plants regularly to ensure they are healthy and vigorous.
You can limit pest problems by the simple expedient of handpicking. In this way, you can remove caterpillars, snails and insect egg masses. Look for telltale damage to leaves caused by caterpillars or grasshoppers, and inspect for droppings under your plants. Always inspect beneath the leaves.
If you have a question or a garden that you would like featured, you can email the author here.
— Patrick Campbell
‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people
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.
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.
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.
21% of Thai teenagers are gambling
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
Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare
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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