Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket gardening: Vistas of paradise

Published

 on 

PHUKET: It is always a great pleasure to be invited to a Phuket home, and to be asked for advice about aspects of the garden. This week’s visit proved predictably pleasurable and the upshot, hardly surprising – was a decision to write about the experience.

The original intention had been to advise about pot plants but, as often happens on these occasions, it turned into a discussion about many aspects of an ongoing horticultural projects.

This is no run-of-the-mill property. Perched on a precipitous hillside, and with panoramic views over Chalong Bay, the newly built, four storey terraced property literally follows the contours of the ravine. Flanked by walls on each side, the structure forms three sides of a rectangle with a central, shaded area open to the sky.

All three balconies face the ultramarine waters of the island dotted bay, the lowest terrace home to a swimming pool, and the two upper patios paved with pleasant terracotta tiles.

Here, said my guide, is where we start. He pointed to huge, sculptural clay pots which matched the floor and which flanked the white front walls. I always think it’s a good idea to have more than one kind of inhabitant in large containers; here tall wrightia religiosas at the center of each pot were flanked by white flowering ixoras. Both are evergreen shrubs and both were in flower, with the pendulous blooms of the wrightia delivering their sweet fragrance. But more pots were required to form a colorful screen across the front of the two balconies. And obviously shrubs able to take the noon-day glare would be needed.

Suggestions included Crown of Thorns (euphorbias), available in cerise, white and salmon pink and in large and small flowering cultivars, and Desert Rose (adeniums), which can now be found in beautiful shades of brilliant red as well as deep pink. These are reliable, year round bloomers, require little attention and do well in pots. The only snag is that they are slow-glowing, so you might want to either put several in one pot, or add plants such as ixoras, or variegated foliage plants such as Crotons (codiaeum) which come in a huge range of color combinations. The Umbrella Tree (Schefflera) is one tough cookie, and looks great in a pot, as does Orange Jasmine (murraya paniculata) with its strongly scented white flowers.

On the lower terrace were a number of potted golden cane palms. A few were going brownish-yellow before their time, the victims of over-zealous watering. Better dried out or transplanted to the main garden.

The actual garden is on a steep slope with forty or fifty steps from top to bottom, and high walls to mark the boundaries on each side. So the original garden designer sensibly chose trees and shrubs that could cope with limited sun and moisture, and with Phuket soil that is thin and lacking nutrients. Some plantings have been real success stories: there are numerous fish-tail and wine palms, to provide a verdant screen down both sides of the property, with huge hanging, beaded inflorescences like chain mail.

Lower down are several elegant foxtail palms, and the attractive green foliage of Lady Palms (rhapsis). Other large trees enjoying the sea-air are calabashes: their open habit allows shrubs – heliconias, for example – to flourish beneath., These include several exotic cultivars such as collinsiana. Zingibers are represented not only by a bed of Costus near the access road, but by the striking torch ginger (etlingera elatior) with its massive waxy red bracts. An exciting sight in Phuket.

The central area is surrounded by high walls on three sides. Devoid of much sunlight, with little top soil and sloping precipitously, it presents a real challenge. At the moist base, a row of dark green foliage plants are doing well, but the whole area would benefit from terracing of low stone or natural brick walls to retain both moisture and the soil amendments – top soil, compost and fertilizer – which need to be added.

Then you can begin to think about installing shade loving plants: ferns such as asplenium, aglaonemas, philodendron, and anthuriums.

Then you have the property that has everything.

Tip of the week – Growing annuals

Annuals germinate, grow, set seed and die, all within the course of a year, thereby providing a splash of rapid and vivid color They are normally grown from seed. You can collect your own seeds when you dead-head flowers (which encourages more flowering), but ensure that the seeds are dry and fully mature.

Annuals you might consider in Phuket include cockscomb (celosias), cosmos daisies, sunflowers (helianthus), and African marigolds (tagetes). Some can be bought as packeted seeds, and should be sown either in prepared open ground, or better still in containers where their progress can be monitored. You can also buy annuals in small pots which you should water thoroughly.

Keep the soil moist, but not soggy: annuals have shallow root systems, but because they grow quickly, they need moisture and nutrients.

Personal favorites include zinnias, magenta globe amaranths (gomphrena globosa) and the low-growing and multi-hued rose moss (portulaca).

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

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

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:

Thailand12 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Thais more relaxed about Covid-19

Bangkok12 hours ago

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

World12 hours ago

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

Travel12 hours ago

Affordable but stylish hotels in Koh Samui for your next holiday

Thailand12 hours ago

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

Crime13 hours ago

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

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Crime14 hours ago

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

Thailand14 hours ago

Thailand movie legend Sombat Metanee has died, aged 85

Crime15 hours ago

Teen soldier murders cousin for allegedly raping his mother

Video15 hours ago

Thaiger Unfiltered

World16 hours ago

Monkeypox victims told to avoid animals after pet dog is infected

Thailand17 hours ago

Elephant rips mahout’s body in half in southern Thailand

Thailand17 hours ago

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

Thailand18 hours ago

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

Thailand18 hours ago

Indian man arrested for smuggling 17 live animals out of Thailand

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