Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket Gardening: From weird to wondrous

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET: Nobody rattles on about the weather with as much relish as the British. But in 2012, only one word was needed – weird. The year, rated the second wettest since the advent of records, began as it started.

The Christmas skies in London, traditionally one of the drier spots in the UK, were permanently grey, and early risers were greeted every morning by incessant, drizzling rain. There were flood alerts everywhere. Not as cataclysmic as Thailand’s recent tropical inundations, but more than enough to dampen the spirits. The nation’s manicured lawns are, at this moment, more moss than grass, the trunks of trees are green with lichen. Even winter shrubs, attuned to low levels of light, are unable to flower in such gloom. There are real fears for the insect population and especially those key pollinators – butterflies and bees.

To add to these dire prognostications, Britain has the equivalent of Thailand’s palm tree wipe-out. Not palms in this case but the ash, a tree much lauded by poets. When I was young, its jet black buds were brought home, an attractive harbinger of spring. A hospitable tree, other plants seem to enjoy growing around it.

Now the ash is headed for extinction. The culprit is ash-dieback, caused not by a beetle and its grubs’ appetite for young palm shoots, but by a fungal infection, brought in from Poland. Years ago, our elms caught Dutch elm disease; now it is the turn of the ash. Chances are the tree will virtually vanish from Western Europe.

Here in Thailand, mature trees have been disappearing for generations, but the process, directly attributable to mans’ inhumanity towards Mother Nature, has now accelerated wildly, especially in Phuket. A few stately sator trees and Indian laurels still grace the roadsides.

There are isolated specimens of dipterocarpus, one of Thailand’s tallest trees, though it is less in evidence here than in the North of the Kingdom. Tropical almond trees with their beautiful red foliage, still thrive near the island’s beaches.

But tamarinds, despite their commercial value, have suffered from the march of concrete, and I have lost count of the number of trees, especially mangoes, that have been chopped back ruthlessly by the apparent need to keep sagging power lines visible. Road-widening schemes are another hazard: In Phang Nga a few years ago, hundreds of huge and venerable trees were sacrificed to progress.

Perhaps that is what stops authorities from planting grand trees. Certainly there have been municipal plantings, especially of palms to line roadsides or median strips. In some cases, especially where foxtail palms have been used, the results are impressive. But it does seem a pity that majestic trees are rarely introduced into urban landscapes. Take the sentol or krathon. A fast growing and shapely tree, grown here mainly for its delicious edible fruits, the sandoricum can reach 150 feet. Massive. The red variety is especially eye-catching, with attractive red foliage. Imagine a line of these giants flanking a tropical highway.

At the end of the day however, the responsibility for providing oases of greenery and havens for wildlife – especially birds, butterflies and bees – lies with the humble gardener.

Consider this example. A friend has a roof garden. Happily there are more and more of them as space at ground level is eaten up. But this is a wondrous example, not just because it is beautifully maintained, with an array of shrubs and climbers, but because it is home to maybe thirty pairs of nesting birds – sun birds, spider hunters, bulbuls.

No predators, no floods, no disease. And the human contribution is entirely benevolent.

A blueprint, perhaps a green-print for the future of Phuket?

Tip of the week: Garden pests – termites
Termites are small, social, ant-like insects, usually whitish in color, related to the cockroach. More of a problem in homes with timbers, where they can cause massive structural damage, termites are nonetheless a problem in the garden or wherever you have anything made of wood: for example, a trellis, a summer house (sala), stakes for supporting plants, even tool handles.

Why? Because they feed on cellulose, the main ingredient in dead organic material, especially wood. They live in huge, concealed colonies and make their nests underground. Hence their depredations are rapid and often unseen until it is too late.

Pre-treat timber with oil-based preservatives, avoid putting wood directly into the soil, and use resistant timber such as syncarpia (turpentine tree) or teak Eucalyptus wood. Though oily, it won’t last long; two of my trellises were destroyed in less than a year. As detritivores, termites are valuable recyclers. No consolation when you’ve suffered an infestation.

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

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

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.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Best of8 hours ago

Phuket’s 5 most family-friendly resorts

Transport8 hours ago

Transport Company announces bus services are suspended until August 31

Thailand10 hours ago

Thailand News Today | 29 provinces now on curfew, booze ban in Phuket

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Insurgency11 hours ago

Volunteer ranger killed in grenade attack by suspected insurgents

Best of11 hours ago

Top 5 Spas in Koh Samui

Thailand11 hours ago

Hemp ice cream hits the Thai market

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Chon Buri12 hours ago

Chon Buri sets local order, restaurants in malls to only offer food for delivery

Thailand12 hours ago

Samut Prakan man dies in fire, possibly self-inflicted

Thailand13 hours ago

Royal Thai Police say bitterleaf can’t cure Covid

Coronavirus (Covid-19)13 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 18,901 new cases, provincial totals

Thailand13 hours ago

Air Asia technician arrested for allegedly stealing electronics

Pattaya14 hours ago

“Pattaya Move On” reopening likely to be postponed as Covid cases surge

Thailand14 hours ago

3 metre long python caught near family’s house in Phuket

Thailand15 hours ago

Government says not to buy Favipiravir/Avigan online, says it might be fake

Phuket15 hours ago

Phuket bans alcohol sales at restaurants, issues order amid rise of Covid cases

Thailand5 months ago

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

Tourism5 months ago

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

Phuket5 months ago

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

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

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

Tourism5 months ago

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

Thailand6 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

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

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending