Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket Gardening – put a cork in your garden

Published

 on 

PHUKET: There are small trees around Phuket that you simply never notice until they suddenly burst dramatically into bloom.

Millingtonia (Indian cork tree) is one of these. A verdant wayside presence during the monsoon, it comes into its own in October, producing masses of white, fragrant flowers which account for one of its popular names of “tree jasmine”. A more profuse bloomer than any of the jasmine family, the young five-petaled flowers are pendant and bell-shaped, only revealing their similarity to jasmine when fully open.

Moreover, these panicles or clusters are produced at the end of long, elegant white stems. No wonder this tree is popular in Phuket, where it is known simply as biip. Some imaginative developers employ it as an ornamental tree for lining the avenues of residential estates: Patak Villas in Chalong, for instance, has many of these trees, all currently in fragrant bloom.

There are other reasons why it is a good choice for street or garden. One is its rapidity of growth. It takes only six to eight years to reach maturity and will flower much earlier than that. And millingtonia quickly develops an attractive shape, with an elongated trunk and relatively open crown. Perfect for gardens where you want to cultivate smaller shrubs underneath without depriving them of too much sun.

The Indian cork tree is an only child, without relatives of any description. Thank goodness, it is widely distributed in Phuket, especially by birds, who have a liking for the flat, capsule-like seeds. It is quintessentially a South East Asian tree and is apparently not much cultivated elsewhere. Indeed, it revels in the hot humid climate which characterizes this part of the globe, where it will tolerate poor soil so long as it gets a sufficiency of moisture and sun.

Erythrina (the coral tree), on the other hand is a member of the substantial genus of fabaceae, small trees and shrubs with spiny trunks and branches, that belong to the pea family. Although there is a white variety, most possess strikingly beautiful red flowers that either droop in dense coral clusters (crista-galli) or are borne on long spikes (fusca). Crista galli, the most exotic family member, has the common name of cockspur coral, since its blooms resemble the comb of a cockerel.

However, there are several advantages to having a coral tree in your Phuket garden. In well-drained soil and over a dry period – it is free-flowering, and has attractive, three part leaves which are either a vivid dark green or, in the case of variegata, boldly patterned with bright yellow. It is moreover, mostly evergreen. Normally, the leaves fall once a year, allowing the brilliant scarlet flowers to be fully visible; in other cases, the leaves and blooms appear together.

Unlike millingtonia which has a long slender stem, the coral tree has a short trunk which means that its height rarely exceeds three meters. And its nectar-rich flowers mean that it attracts a wide variety of nectar-feeding birds. Definitely one for the ornithologists among you.

Phuket Gardening is Phuket Gazette columnist Patrick Campbell’s feature of all things flora.

Keep checking our online Phuket Lifestyle pages for regular gardening features and tips.

— Patrick Campbell

 

Get more from The Thaiger

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.

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Protests5 mins ago

‘Win’ motorbike taxi drivers protest against GrabBike in Bangkok, Thailand

World7 mins ago

China not cod-ing about its zero Covid policy as it tests fish

Travel9 mins ago

Affordable but stylish hotels in Koh Samui for your next holiday

Sponsored1 day ago

Super luxury villas in Phuket with breathtaking ocean views

Thailand28 mins ago

Female soldier seeks help after being abused by senator’s wife

Crime1 hour ago

2 fake monks make up to 40k baht per day scamming villagers in northern Thailand

Crime2 hours ago

Man stabs wife’s secret lover to death in rice paddy in central Thailand

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand2 hours ago

Thailand movie legend Sombat Metanee has died, aged 85

Crime3 hours ago

Teen soldier murders cousin for allegedly raping his mother

Video3 hours ago

Thaiger Unfiltered

World4 hours ago

Monkeypox victims told to avoid animals after pet dog is infected

Thailand5 hours ago

Elephant rips mahout’s body in half in southern Thailand

Thailand6 hours ago

2 men on a motorcycle rob a gas station in Chon Buri

Thailand6 hours ago

PM Prayut suggests studying Buddhism to cope with rising electricity bills in Thailand

Thailand6 hours ago

Indian man arrested for smuggling 17 live animals out of Thailand

Guides6 hours ago

English-speaking counselling/therapy services in Bangkok

Thailand11 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand1 year ago

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

Tourism1 year ago

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

Phuket1 year ago

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

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

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

Tourism1 year ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Trending