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Phuket Gardening: Ecstatic aquatic

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gardening: Ecstatic aquatic | The Thaiger

PHUKET: When I first came to Phuket, it was well nigh impossible to find ceramic pots that were completely waterproof. Indeed, I recall filling the drainage holes in glazed pots with cement in order to prevent leakage.

I was reminded of this recently by Richard, a fellow Englishman, who is marketing a range of giant ceramic pots, so large that they cannot be thrown or spun, but are crafted into molds by traditional methods, covered with a ceramic glaze and then fired in a wood-burning furnace. Beautiful and unique. Richard writes:

“I would appreciate any thoughts you might have about where I can research the best plants for these sorts of pots. I am particularly interested in aquatic plants that can survive outside [in] this climate.”

As far as I am aware, there is no single book that deals exclusively with water-loving plants, but William Warren’s Tropical Garden Plants (Thames and Hudson) has a section on the topic. So here is my own threepenn’orth.

The shape of the container is absolutely crucial. Many of Richard’s pots are vase-shaped – either broadly oval, or more slender in style. Consequently, the rims are much narrower than the main body, so one has to consider plants that require relatively little surface space and which will, by growing tall, gracefully complement the design of the container.

One obvious choice is the water canna (thalia geniculata), a plant with elegant reed-like stems and bright green, large, ovate leaves that appear at the sides and tops of the stalks.

Grown mainly for its foliage, the water canna also produces dangling clusters of mauve flowers on elongated stems well above the leaves. A particularly attractive variety has reddish stalks and veining on the foliage.

Thalia geniculata will grow completely immersed in water, and is best established by being rooted in the glutinous mud sold in most good garden centers. Since it will rise four or five feet above its container, it will not look out of place in a large jar or vase-shaped pot with a relatively narrow rim. Moreover, it loves full sun. Witness the water canna’s presence on the front patios of many Thai homes. The only downside is that old leaves quickly discolor and will need to be removed with secateurs.

Even more familiar is the lotus, a plant sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus. Like the water canna, it is a sun-worshiper, will grow with its roots submerged in water and does best when constrained by a narrow-rimmed pot. While nelumba nucifera will probably not grow above four feet tall, its magnificent buds and flowers – either pink or white – are borne on long stalks some distance above the water.

Given the right muddy conditions, including fertilizer in tablet form, it will bloom repeatedly and produce masses of leaves. Round and vividly green, the leaves are covered with microscopic hairs that cause raindrops to roll off them. A must-have container plant.

Water lilies are probably the best known of all water plants, for the botanical family of nymphaeceae is huge, and its members are familiar presences wherever you hail from. They come in every color of the rainbow, and the spectacular flowers lose nothing in comparison with those of the lotus. But it will only bloom freely, given a sunny location and ample mud around its spreading rootstock.

Since both pads and blooms float on the surface of the water, it requires a very different kind of habitat. In principle, the wider the pot, the better for the lily. And, because the flowers are low to the water, the vessel needs to be at or near ground level to achieve maximum visual impact. No wonder the water lily is the preferred choice of pond owners everywhere.

Tip of the week – Trace Elements and Healthy Plants
Every gardener understands that plants, like humans, require nutrients to stay alive and well. The three main needs are for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium(K).

These are present in the soil, especially top soil, and in additional material such as
compost or chicken manure.

In addition, plants may require monthly applications of fertilizer, which is normally obtained in granular or liquid (more expensive) form, and is most commonly available as an equal balance of the three main minerals (15/15/15 ).

But that is not the end of the story: trace elements in minute quantities – boron, manganese, iron or zinc assist healthy growth. Happily, they are usually present in rich soil. Plants lacking these elements, especially in pots, may reveal their absence by yellowing foliage or stunted growth. They should benefit from a top dressing of humus-rich soil, manure or compost.

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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