‘Mahachok’: Lovely Tropical Bulb Plants in Thailand With Fragrant White Blooms

In my perspective, the ‘Mahachok’ (ว่านมหาโชค) bulb plants are among Thailand’s loveliest tropical flowering herbs. These evergreen bulbs thrive in hot tropical climates and produce attractive fragrant white blooms from time to time.

Mahachok bulb plants with fragrant white flowers in Bangkok, Thailand.

The ‘Mahachok’ (ว่านมหาโชค) bulb plants are a vintage herbaceous bulb with evergreen leaves that thrives in Thailand’s hot and humid tropical climate. Though they physically resemble the ‘Mahalab’ (ว่านมหาลาภ) bulb plants that seem to be more widespread among Thai gardeners nowadays, there are three key differences: [1] Unlike the light green leaves of the ‘Mahalab’, the leaves of ‘Mahachok’ bulbs are larger and darker green with thicker stems, [2] Unlike ‘Mahalabs’ that do quite well when naturalized in the soil, ‘Mahachok’ bulbs prefer to be potbound in large pots and remain evergreen throughout the year, [3] Unlike the delicate orange-reddish blooms of ‘Mahalab’ bulbs, the white blooms of ‘Mahachoks’ are larger, sturdier, and fragrant.

Mahachok bulb plants produce fragrant white flowers from time to time.

In Thailand, ‘Mahachok’ (ว่านมหาโชค) bulbs can be easily planted year-round in large well-drained earthen pots filled with rich loamy soil mixed with small amounts of sand and organic fertilizer. Place 4-5 bulbs in a large, deep earthen pot that is about 40 cm in diameter, so that their tops are approximately 1-2 cm below the surface of the soil. Water well after planting.

Mahachok bulbs can be planted into a large earthen pot filled with loamy soil, whereby their tops are approximately 1-2 cm below the soil surface. Water well after planting.

‘Mahachok’ bulb plants are slow growers, but in approximately 1-2 months after consistent rain or moisture, dark green leaves will start to appear above the soil as the plants continue to grow.

Mahachok bulb plants produce large green leaves 1-2 months after being planted.

Tall stems bearing clusters of fragrant white flowers will soon appear 2-3 months after the bulbs have been planted. ‘Mahachok’ bulb plants prefer partial shade, and in Thailand’s tropical gardens their ideal locations would be close to larger trees along the eastern or western walls where they receive morning or late afternoon sunshine, but are shielded from the scorching tropical mid-day sun.

Mahachok bulb plants with fragrant white blooms in Bangkok, Thailand.

In the Thai language, the term ‘Mahachok’ (ว่านมหาโชค) translates to “The Great Fortune” in English, which is why traditional Thai gardeners consider them to be very auspicious and lovely plants, a perfect addition to any tropical garden.

Full-grown Mahachok bulb plants in a tropical garden in Bangkok, Thailand

Happy gardening, wherever you are in Thailand, and around the world!

Lat (Ratasit C.)

Posted in Bulb Plants, Flowering Perennials, Herbal Plants | Leave a comment

Bangkok Gardening: Flowers That Thrive During Thailand’s Hot Dry Season

In Thailand’s tropical monsoonal climate, the months of March-May are normally the region’s hottest period. These 3 months prior to the onset of the rainy monsoon in late May are usually characterized by hot, dry weather with periods of intense daytime heat. For many gardeners in Thailand, this is typically considered to be a period of minimal gardening activity whereby the soil is too hot and dry. Nevertheless, with several hardy flowering plants this doesn’t have to be the case.

Too keep your gardens lush, colorful and lively with blooms during Thailand’s hot dry season (March-May), there are several hardy plants that I would recommend during this period of drought and intense heat.

1. Bougainvillae (เฟื่องฟ้า) – Perennials native to South America, these flowering creeping and bush plants are now a common sight throughout tropical Southeast Asia, including all regions of Thailand.

Awesome pink Bougainvillea bush in Bangkok. Blossoms are especially plentiful during the November-April dry season.

In my Bangkok garden, Bougainvilleas flower especially profusely during the dry seasons (November-April), while green leaves usually appear during the wetter monsoonal months (May-October). Bougainvillea blossoms come in a variety of colors, including pink, orange, red, yellow, or shades in between. In my garden, one of the bougainvillea bushes produce blossoms of multiple color!

Multi-colored bougainvillea bush in my Bangkok garden.

Based upon my experience, bougainvilleas are very hardy and drought-resistant plants, and grow profusely in warm to hot tropical climates. Bougainvilleas can grow to very large sizes, and so needs a large structure to support it.

2. Thai Cosmos (ดาวกระจาย) – In Thailand, these hardy annuals come in various shades of yellow to orange. Seeds can be sown directly into the soil any time of the year, but needs watering during the dry months. Based upon my experience, cosmos can grow to be quite tall (about 60 to 80 cm) during the rainy months when there is plentiful moisture.

A moderately tall Thai Cosmos bush in a my garden.

But their sizes seem to diminish (only 15-30 cm) during the dry months, especially during the hot season (March to May).

A smaller yellow Cosmos bush in my Bangkok garden.

In Thailand, Cosmos as an annual plant grows so easily that we can simply ‘sprinkle’ the seeds onto the soil, where they will germinate provided that there’s sufficient moisture. I would recommend heirloom or authentic local seeds, as they can be kept for future sowing. (Unlike some modern commercial seeds that self-destruct after a few cycles.)

3. Desert Rose, or Impala Lily (ชวนชม) – Said to be originally from the Middle East, Desert Roses (ชวนชม) seem to have adapted pretty well to Thailand’s tropical monsoonal climate. These beautiful flowering perennials grow to a height of approximately 1 to 1.5 meters, and have thick trunks and branches.

Desert Rose with bright reddish blooms.

They bloom profusely throughout the year with bright pink to red blossoms, even during Thailand’s hot and dry season.

A Desert Rose bush with bright pink blooms.

Desert Roses do not like excessive moisture, and they are prone to rotting if over-watered. In Bangkok, I usually have them watered thoroughly once every 2-3 days. Amazingly, Desert Roses are surprisingly well-adapted to Thailand’s spells of brief, heavy downpours during the May-October rainy monsoon season.

4. Mahalab Bulb Plants (มหาลาภ) – These lovely tropical bulb plants are my favorite, and has been of subject of an earlier blog article. Mahalabs are tropical bulb plants that thrive in Thailand, and have short stems with light green, oval-shaped leaves. Mahalab plants are evergreen when grown in large pots and provided sufficient moisture year-round.

Awesome naturalized Mahalab blooms during late March to early April in Bangkok.

However, Mahalabs tend to shed their leaves if naturalized in the soil. Both those grown in large pots and those naturalized in the soil flower only once a year during Thailand’s hot dry season, whereby flower stems will appear during the months of March to May.

Naturalized Mahalab flower stems emerging in late March in Bangkok.

For mahalabs that are naturalized in the soil, flower stems usually appear from mid-March to early May, and oval-shaped leaves appear shortly thereafter. Please visit my previous blog article for additional information on this awesome bulb plant.

https://latzgardening.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/mahalab-tropical-bulb-plants/

5. The ‘Leb Mue Nang’ (เล็บมือนาง) are large creeping tropical flowering vines. These tropical vines thrive in Thailand’s hot and humid tropical climate, and can grow to over 15 meters long. They are very hardy in warm tropical climates and make perfect covers for garden walls with their colorful blooms. The fragrant blossoms of ‘Leb Mue Nang’ vines range from white to pink to red depending upon the age of those blossoms, all in one single plant.

'Leb Mue Nang' tropical vines produce fragrant colorful blooms in Bangkok year-round.

Leb Mue Nang tropical flowering vines are very hardy in Thailand and can tolerate both excessive rains and droughts, provided that they receive ample sunshine. These plants are therefore suitable in locations with full sunshine. Over time, small plantlets grow near the bases of their parent plants (possibly from seeds), which can then be transplanted to new locations.

Lush 'Leb Mue Nang' tropical vines in Bangkok. These can grow to cover entire sections of tall garden walls!

For more details about these majestic tropical vines, please visit my previous blog on ‘Leb Mue Nang’ tropical vines via the following link:

https://latzgardening.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/leb-mue-nang-majestic-tropical-vines/

6. Thai Water Lilies (ดอกบัว) – these tropical aquatic plants thrive in shallow ponds or large water-tight pots, where they will flower year-round when given the right nutrients. Thai water lilies produce very fragrant blooms that appear in colorful shades ranging from yellow to pink to dark purple.

Thai water lily with bright purple blooms in Bangkok.

Thai water lilies prefer full sun, and will produce their fragrant blooms even during the height of the hot season in April when temperatures in central Thailand can rise above 40 degrees celsius, provided that their shallow ponds or large containers are full of water at all times. This is because Thai water lilies must be kept in water at ALL times or they will wilt very rapidly in dry conditions.

Thai water lily with fragrant pinkish-purple blooms in Bangkok.

The fragrant blooms of these colorful Thai water lilies are characterized by a sweet citrus scent, which attracts plenty of local bees, making for a very natural garden scene.

7. Globe Amaranths (บานไม่รู้โรย) – In Thailand these awesome annuals produce bright pinkish-purple globe-shaped blooms year-round. They flower especially profusely during the November-April dry season. Their lively purplish blooms continue to adorn my garden in Bangkok even during the height of the hot dry season running from middle of March to the end of April.

A Globe Amaranth bush with bright purple blooms in Bangkok.

In my Bangkok garden, Globe Amaranths prefer full sun, moderate watering, and are very heat tolerant – which makes them perfect for hot tropical climates. Globe Amaranths are called ‘Baan Mai Roo Roye’ (บานไม่รู้โรย), meaning ‘The Bloom That Lasts Forever’ in Thai, a very fitting name given the long durability of their colorful blooms.

Globe Amaranth bush with colorful blooms during March in Bangkok.

8. Allamandas (บานบุรี) – These are cheerful tropical vines and bushes that produce a plethora of yellow flowers year-round in Thailand’s hot and humid tropical climate. Though Allamanda vines prefer plenty of water and moisture and grow most rapidly during Thailand’s rainy monsoon season (mid-May to October), they produce plenty of flowers year-round even during the hot dry season (March to early May).

Allamanda bush producing cheerful yellow blooms during March in Bangkok.

The important factors in growing Allamanda bushes and vines are to plant them in a location with plentiful sunshine and provide them with ample moisture. Allamandas are beautiful tropical plants which can be shaped into large bushes, or can be left to grow as very long vines over tall garden walls. For more information on Allamandas, please visit my previous blog on this awesome plant via the following link:

https://latzgardening.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/allamanda-plants-cheerful-tropical-blooms/

Happy gardening, wherever you are in Thailand, and around the world!

Lat (Ratasit C.)

Posted in Gardens | 2 Comments

The Stunning Hanging Gardens at Bangkok’s Golden Mount Temple

Among the major landmarks of Bangkok’s vibrant ‘old city’ is the Golden Mount Temple, known as ‘Wat Saket’ (วัดสระเกศราชวรมหาวิหาร) in Thai.  The Golden Mount, a giant stupa within the temple complex which houses the Buddha’s relic, towers above Bangkok’s old city and provides a superb rooftop view of this vast metropolis in all 4 directions.

A small golden replica of the Golden Mount with tropical plants and colorful orchids at the base of the stupa.

The history of Wat Saket (Golden Mount Temple) goes back to the Ayuthaya period.  The temple was later renovated during the Rattanakosin period (A.D. 1782 onwards), whereby an artificial hill was later added.  The Golden Mount hill was later crowned, and a relic of the Lord Buddha was finally housed in the chedi (stupa) atop the hill by King Rama V.

An awesome view of Bangkok near the summit of the Golden Mount.

Despite the temple’s historical significance and it’s importance as a major religious center and landmark in Bangkok, this blog will focus upon the temple’s lush hanging gardens along the way up the Golden Mount.

Buddhist images along the way up the Golden Mount. The golden image on the upper right represents Lord Buddha Sakyamuni when he was born as a little child.

During my recent visit to the Golden Mount hill and its golden stupa, I was surprisingly delighted by the lush tropical gardens that formed a dense canopy of green over the lower half of the hill, along with the charming hanging gardens, artificial waterfalls and ponds along the 318 steps that led to the prayer hall at the top.  I was keenly impressed by the multiple levels of artificial waterfalls that adorned the winding path up the Golden Mount hill, which were adorned with tropical orchids, herbs, and ferns.

Artificial waterfall and lush tropical vegetation along the way up the Golden Mount.

These gardens were replete with a wide variety of tropical plants, many of which are classical Thai herbs and trees under conservation.

Colorful and exotic tropical plants along the path up the Golden Mount.

Here’s a scene of another stunning artificial waterfall and the lush tropical hanging gardens, along the path heading up the Golden Mount hill.  These multiple levels of waterfalls and hanging gardens along the upward path leading towards the summit of the Golden Mount imparted a cooling sense of serenity, a refreshing relief from the surrounding tropical heat.

Refreshing artificial waterfall along pathway up the Golden Mount.

Stunning artificial waterfalls and ponds were also evident along the downward path which runs on the opposite side of the hill.

Artificial pond with tropical aquatic plants along pathway down the Golden Mount.

Like the waterfalls along the upward path, these artificial ponds along the downward path featured numerous ferns, orchids, and tropical aquatic plants.

Lush tropical pond along downward path of Golden Mount.

A lush canopy of tropical plants and trees now covers not only the base of the Golden Mount, but far upwards, as is seen in the photo below.

Lush tropical canopy covers the Golden Mount not only at the base but far upwards, as can be seen in this awesome view.

Here’s another view of the lush green tropical forest that can be seen approximately half-way up the Golden Mount hill.

Lush tropical scene midway up the Golden Mount.

I noticed that many of the trees here are traditional Thai favorites such that are currently under conservation.

Dense tropical vegetation at the Golden Mount.

In this scene midway up the Golden Mount, giant bodhi trees can be seen behind the row of elaborate temple bells.

Bodhi trees behind prayer bells at Golden Mount.

Impressively, the temple monks and lay supporters have turned the Golden Mount into a small botanical wonder in the midst of Bangkok’s bustling old city.  Virtually every nook and cranny of the Golden Mount has been turned into a tropical garden, as can be seen below, which is mid-level up the Golden Mount.

Lush tropical gardening decor midway up the Golden Mount.

Here, a small corner near the summit has been turned into a lush oasis with multiple ponds of fragrant water lilies.

Lotus ponds near the summit of the Golden Mount.

Even mall corners at the base of the Golden Mount have also been turned into mini-gardens as well, showcasing Thailand’s tropical flora and fauna.

Lush tropical green corner at the base of the Golden Mount.

I highly commend the monks and lay supporters of Bangkok’s Golden Mount Temple (Wat Saket) for their hard work in successfully transforming the temple, and especially the Golden Mount hill, into a lush green oasis in the middle of Bangkok’s bustling old city.

Another lush artificial tropical waterfall at Golden Mount.

To this day, the Golden Mount Temple (Wat Saket) remains an active religious center, where Buddhist pilgrims come to meditate and pray at the summit of the Golden Mount, and where religious ceremonies, prayers, and meditation sessions are held.

Other prayer and religious halls of Wat Saket (Golden Mount Temple) as seen from the Golden Mount Stupa.

The place has also become a favorite attraction for tourists, who come to admire the architecture, the gardens, and the magnificent views of Bangkok atop the hill.  For more information on the history and location of the temple, please visit the following link:

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/thailand/bangkok-wat-saket-golden-mount.htm

Happy travelling, wherever you are in Thailand, and around the world!

Lat (Ratasit C.)

Posted in Gardens | 1 Comment

Theravada Buddhism: Significance of Asaraha Bucha Day and the Buddhist Lent

For hundreds of millions of Theravadan Buddhists across Southeast Asia  (primarily Thailand, Burma, and Indochina) and  South Asia (primarily Sri Lanka), Asaraha Bucha day  (วันอาสาฬหบูชา) and the beginning of the Buddhist Lent (วันเข้าพรรณษา) are among the most significant religious events in the annual calendar.

Phra Putta Chinarat, in the main prayer hall of Wat Benjamaborpit (The Marble Temple), Bangkok, Thailand.

The Asaraha Bucha day (วันอาสาฬหบูชา) is a Buddhist holy day (วันพระ) which immediately precedes first day of the Buddhist Lent (วันเข้าพรรณษา), and falls on the 15th day of the waxing moon of the eighth lunar month (เดือน 8 ทางจันทรคติ).  The term ‘Asaraha Bucha’ (อาสาฬหบูชา) translates to ‘the eighth lunar month’ and the term ‘bucha’ translates to ‘worship’ and ‘remembrance’.  Put together, the term ‘Asaraha Bucha’ translates to: ‘the worship in remembrance of events that happened in the 8th lunar month.’  Because it has been approximately 2,600 years since the time of the latest Buddha (Siddharta Gautama), many people would naturally wonder what exactly happened on the 15th day of the waxing moon of the 8th lunar month, and why is it still being observed till this day?

This significant Buddhist event which happened on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month in which we are talking about actually occurred 45 years before the beginning of the Buddhist era, or B.E. 2,554 + 45 = approximately 2,599 years ago.  (To be exact, B.E. 543 is approximately the same time as A.D. 1, which means that the Buddhist Era precedes the Christrian Era by approximately 543 years.  So this year is now the 2,554th year of the Buddhist Era; that is, B.E. 2554 = A.D. 2011.  In essence, the Buddhist Era began with the Buddha’s passing away, or ‘Parinibbhana’).

Now coming back to our discussion about Asahara Bucha Day (วันอาสาฬหบูชา): this was the day in which the Buddha announced his dharma and teachings for the very first time, approximately 2 months after his enlightenment (การตรัสรู้).  On this significant day, the Buddha for the first time delivered to his first 5 disciples his first sermon. the ‘Dhamma Jakra Pawattana Sutra’ (ธรรมจักกัปปวัตนสูตร), the sutra which marked the beginning of the ‘Wheel of Dharma’.  In essence, the Dhamma Jakra Pawattana Sutra contained 2 important messages, the first being ‘Machima Patipata’ (มัชฌิมาปฏิปทา), which outlines the way towards the cessation of suffering via the ‘middle path’ (แนวทางสายกลาง).  The second important message was the ‘Ariyasaj 4’ (อริยสัจ 4), better known as the ‘Four Noble Truths’ which revealed the cause and the way towards the cessation of suffering.

The Dhamma Jakra Pawattana Sutra (ธรรมจักกัปปวัตนสูตร) was delivered by the Lord Buddha at the Issi Patana Marukataiwan Forest (ป่าอิสิปตนมฤคทายวัน) near the ancient Indian city of Paranisi (เมืองพาราณสี), which back then was part of the ancient Indian state of Makot (แคว้นมคธ).  It has to be noted that nowadays, the city of Paranisi still flourishes and exists, but is better known as Varanasi (or Banares), in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.  This initial sermon was delivered by the Buddha to his first 5 disciples (พระปัญจวัคคีย์ทั้ง 5), which included ‘Phra Kontanya’ (พระโกณฑัญญะ), ‘Phra Wappa’ (พระวัปปะ), ‘Phra Bhatiya’ (พระภัทิยะ), ‘Phra Mahanama’ (พระมหานาม), and ‘Phra Atsashi’ (พระอัสสชิ).

It was told that on that very day, Phra Kontanya (พระโกณฑัญญะ) was the first disciple to be enlightened by the Buddha’s dharma, and became the very first Buddhist monk within this new religion (Buddhism).  Therefore, on this very day the ‘Triple Gems of Buddhism’ (พระรัตนตรัย) became complete for the first time: that is , there now exists the Buddha (พระพุทธ), the Dharma (พระธรรม), and the Sangha (พระสงฆ์, or community of monks).  With the ‘Triple Gems’, Buddhism as a religion founded by the latest Buddha (Gautama) became whole and complete for the first time in its history.  This is the significance of  Asahara Bucha Day, which marks Buddhist worship in remembrance of all that has happened on the 15th day of the waxing moon (day of full moon) on the 8th lunar month, approximately 2,599 years ago!

Up to this day, Therevadan Buddhists still observe Asaraha Bucha Day in remembrance of the significance of the event that elapsed almost 2,600 years ago.  In Thailand, Buddhists typically visit temples on this day to make donations, offer alms to monks and novices, meditate, pray, and listen to sermons.  During the evening to early nighttime hours processions are held around the temples throughout the country in remembrance of the Buddha and his teachings, which has become an integral tradition for Thai Buddhists over the centuries.  The Asaraha Bucha Day therefore provides an excellent opportunity for Buddhists to observe the peaceful, mindful and compassionate teachings of the Buddha, to purify their minds, and to begin anew.

The day right after Asaraha Bucha Day marks the first day of the Buddhist Lent, known in Thai as ‘Wan Khao Pansa’ (วันเข้าพรรณษา), another very important occasion in itself.  The term ‘Khao Pansa’ (เข้าพรรณษา) translates in Thai to ‘taking a break from the rain’.  In the Theravadan Buddhist context, the term ‘Khao Pansa’ refers to the time when Buddhist monks will have to reside in a particular temple throughout the 3 rainy months, which in essence form the peak of the rainy monsoon season.

This Buddhist tradition dates back to the time of the latest Buddha (Siddharta Gautama), when Buddhist monks traveled far and wide on a daily basis to bless people and all living beings, and to propagate the Buddha’s dharma in cities, towns, and villages in all directions even during the rainy season.  For this reason, it was said that Buddhist monks during the time of the Buddha, in their quest to travel far and wide to spread the dharma, had unintentionally caused damage as they stepped upon villagers’ agricultural fields (like rice paddies, vegetable plots, saplings, etc.)  To address this concern, the Buddha (Gautama) therefore deliberated that Buddhist monks shall reside in a particular temple throughout the duration of the 3-month long rainy season, which according to the Buddhist calendar begins on the 1st day of the waning moon of the 8th lunar month, and ends on the 15th day of the waxing moon (day of full moon) of the 11th lunar month.  Over time, this tradition became known as the ‘Buddhist Lent.’  As an additional note: the beginning and end dates of the Buddhist lent are in accordance with the monsoon season which prevails during the aforementioned period in the Indian subcontinent and mainland Southeast Asia.

The 3-month retreat during the Buddhist Lent whereby monks have to reside in a particular temple confers several key benefits to the Buddhist monastic community.

Firstly, as already mentioned, the period coinciding with the Buddhist Lent is the rainy monsoon season in much of South, Southeast, and East Asia, which is the primary planting season for the regions’ agriculture.  Back in the days of the Buddha, Buddhist monks had to travel far and wide to disseminate the dharma.  Such travels during the rainy season may inflict damage upon the agricultural fields, saplings, and small animals which usually flourish during the period.  By residing in a particular temple during the rainy season, the Buddhist monastic community can rest assured that they won’t be inflicting any suffering or damage upon the surrounding agricultural communities, as well as upon animals large and small that thrive during the wet season.

Secondly, the 3-month annual retreat during the Buddhist Lent provides an excellent opportunity for the Buddhist monastic community to take a well-deserved break, after traveling to propagate the Buddha’s dharma for 8-9 months.  During this retreat, Buddhist monks will be able to learn, observe, and improve their understandings of the Buddha’s teachings.  Monks will also have time to meditate and acquire new knowledge in regards to the Buddhist dharma, which they can then help disseminate to the wider lay community once the annual Buddhist Lent retreat period ends.

Although the Buddhist Lent is commonly viewed as a crucial period for the monastic community, there are many things that the lay community can do to make this period highly meaningful.  First and foremost, it presents an opportunity for every Buddhist layperson to purify his/her mind and be at peace.  Like all the plants and animals that spring to life during the height of the rainy season, the period during the Buddhist Lent symbolizes the process of rebirth and rejuvination, the chance to begin anew after all of our experiences (good and bad) during the year.  The Buddhist Lent also provides a good opportunity for the lay community to make merit by offering food and various necessities to the monks and novices.  In Thailand, the beginning of the Buddhist Lent is marked by colorful festivals and processions featuring huge, ornate, and elaborately carved candles which are donated to temples around the country.  These candles will be lit during temple prayers throughout the duration of the 3-month Buddhist Lent.

In essence, for a lay person, the Buddhist Lent in the Theravadan tradition is a period for self reflection, a period for new insights/knowledge, a period to begin anew (rebirth and rejuvenation), a period to study the Buddha’s dharma, a period to support the monastic community, and a period for purification by restraining oneself from various vices and ‘defilements’.

Happy Asaraha Bucha Day, and may the Buddha’s dharma (teachings) of enlightenment, wisdom, peace, and compassion be with you throughout this Buddhist Lent and beyond, wherever you are around the world!

Lat (Ratasit C.)

Posted in Buddhism and Dharma | Leave a comment

Lush Tropical Gardens and Waterfall at the Dusit Thani Hotel Bangkok

Despite its image as a sprawling metropolis, Bangkok is replete with tropical botanical gems large and small, which are sprinkled throughout the city.  A prime example is the lovely Thai-inspired tropical gardens of the Dusit Thani Hotel, located on Silom Road just opposite Lumpini Park.

Dusit Thani Hotel, Silom, Bangkok.

The inner courtyard of the Dusit Thani Hotel features a lush Thai-inspired tropical garden with an artificial waterfall and a fish pond full of colorful carps, a prime example of tropical landscaping excellence despite limited space.

Tropical garden with waterfall, Dusit Thani Hotel, Bangkok.

The stepped waterfall, combined with lush tropical greenery and a tranquil fish pond, provide for a very soothing atmosphere in the midst of Bangkok’s urban hustle and heat.

Stepped waterfall in courtyard garden, Dusit Thani Hotel, Bangkok.

The small courtyard features a good selection of traditional Thai tropical trees and plants, reminiscent of gardens in Bangkok a century ago.  In the photo below, a lush artificial tropical island is created in the middle of the fish pond, whereby large trees exist in tandem with various ferns and other tropical foliage plants. This is indeed a testimony of how a lovely tropical garden can be created via well-planned landscaping, despite the constraint of a limited space.

Lush tropical canopy in the inner courtyard garden of Dusit Thani Hotel, Bangkok.

Here’s another example of the hotel’s lush Thai tropical gardening concept along a narrow strip of gardening space near the front entrance of the hotel, which again demonstrates that space is no obstacle to achieving a lush, charming tropical garden.  Rather, good landscaping and plant/tree selections are the key.  Here, ornamental bananas combine superbly with various tropical palm trees and ornamental plants.

Front tropical garden, Dusit Thani Hotel, Bangkok.

Should you be interested in visiting Bangkok’s famed Dusit Thani Hotel, and to sample its eight superb international dining options, please visit the hotel’s website via the link below:

http://www.dusit.com/dusit-thani/en/dusit-thani-bangkok-restaurants-a-bars.html

And should you be interested in enjoying the hotel’s luscious daily Thai and international buffets at The Pavillion Restaurant, please visit my food blog via the link below for some colorful review and photos:

http://latztravelandfoods.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/bangkok-buffet-the-pavilion-restaurant-at-dusit-thani-hotel/

Happy gardening, dining, and traveling, wherever you are in Thailand, and around the world!

Lat (Ratasit C.)

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Glorious Thai Orchids: Awesome Floral Exhibition at Siam Paragon

Endowed with a humid tropical climate, Thailand is renowned for its plethora of stunningly beautiful orchid varieties, which can be found naturally in forests, in botanical gardens, and among the multitudes of commercial orchid farms.  In fact, orchids form a significant part of Thailand’s flower exports, and are highly valued for their beauty and uniqueness.

Colorful Thai orchids on display at the Orchid Paradise Exhibition, Siam Paragon.

Colorful orchids are a common feature in many tropical Thai gardens with new, increasingly beautiful varieties appearing year after year.  They are arguably one of Thailand’s national flowers, adding splendor and color to gardens in parks, temples, and homes throughout the country.  Below are some awesome photos which I took during my brief visit to the Orchid Paradise Exhibition which was held in Bangkok’s Siam Paragon shopping complex.

Colorful Thai orchids in the Orchid Paradise Exhibition at Siam Paragon, Bangkok.

The orchids below have some of the biggest blooms I’ve ever seen, which are indeed magnificent.

Stunningly large Thai orchids at the Orchid Paradise Exhibition, Siam Paragon, Bangkok.

Below are some cute, hanging orchids whose petite blooms resemble those of Japanese cherry blossoms.

These small hanging orchids have petite blooms which resemble those of Japanese cherry blossoms.

Below are some stunningly colorful potted orchids that were on display, which are also sold.  These make great additions to Thai gardens, adding a sense of cheerfulness and vitality.

Intensely colorful potted Thai orchids at the Orchid Paradise Exhibition, Siam Paragon, Bangkok.

These orange orchids, relatively rare in Thailand, are my favorites.

Bright, orange orchids on display at Siam Paragon, Bangkok.

Several orchid varieties on display were very unique, such as the ones below whose flowers resemble those of spring hyacinths (a spring bulb plant common in cold temperate zones).

These Thai orchids have unique flower stalks that resemble the blooms of spring hyacinths (a cold temperate bulb plant).

Another scene of colorful hanging orchids at the exhibition.

Colorful hanging Thai orchids on display.

These peached-colored orchids were very charming and fetched very high prices, due to their beauty and rareness.

Charming peach-colored orchids on display at Siam Paragon, Bangkok.

Here’s another close-up view of some colorful Thai orchid blossoms. Note the stunning details on the petals, which are products of decades of diligent cross-breeding.

A close-up view of Thai orchid blossoms.

I was very impressed by these large orchids, which had bright yellow blooms with brown specks on their petals.  The stalks of these orchids were majestically long!

These Thai orchids had bright yellow blooms on majestically long stems!

The floral exhibition also featured another perennial Thai favorite: intensely colorful tropical water lilies (many of them strikingly fragrant), which are commonly found in gardens throughout the country.

Brightly colored Thai water lily blossoms, many of which are pleasantly fragrant!

Numerous tropical water lily plants were also on sale at the floral exhibition.  These can be readily planted in real or artificial ponds, an integral part of Thai tropical gardens.

Thai water lily plants for sale at the floral exhibition. These thrive in the ponds of Thai tropical gardens.

Another photo of awesome Thai water lilies for sale.  The blossoms of these water plants are usually pleasantly fragrant, attracting a considerable number of bees in the morning.

More colorful Thai water lilies for sale at the floral exhibition, Siam Paragon, Bangkok. Oftentimes, their fragrant blossoms attract bees in the morning.

Happy gardening, wherever you are in Thailand, and around the world!

Lat (Ratasit C.)

Posted in Flowering Perennials, Gardens | 4 Comments

Lush Tropical Garden at Sala Rim Naam, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

During my visit to the Sala Rim Naam Restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, I was truly impressed by the surrounding lush tropical garden, which reminded me of traditional Thai gardens during the days of my grandparents.

Lush tropical garden surrounding the 'Sala Rim Naam' Restaurant of Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.

The term ‘Sala Rim Naam’ translates in Thai to “Pavilion by the Water”, and is a Thai restaurant which consists of a large Thai-style house with an air-conditioned dining hall offering a wide array of Thai specialties and desserts including lunch buffets.  The complex is surrounded by a charming white colonial facade and a lush tropical garden reminiscent of Thailand during the early 20th century.

White colonial-style facade adjoining the Sala Rim Naam Restaurant, with lovely tropical plants.

Lush tropical plants adorn the sides of buildings, thereby mitigating the interiors from the intense tropical heat during the daytime.

Lush tropical plants adorn the sides of the Sala Rim Naam Restaurant, thereby mitigating the intense tropical heat.

With good planning and layouts, even small spaces at the back of buildings that receive only partial sunshine can be converted into lovely, lush tropical gardens.

Lush tropical garden at the back of the Sala Rim Naam Restaurant.

Another example of how narrow strips of space along the sides of buildings with only partial sunshine can be converted in to lush greenery, with the right layout and choices of plants. Superb!

Tropical garden on the side of a building, at the 'Sala Rim Naam' Restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.

I truly love this charming white colonial-style facade which features a square water pond in the middle, with lotuses and water plants imparting a sense of peace and greenery.

White colonial-style facade adjoining the Sala Rim Naam Restaurant, with lovely tropical plants.

This is a close-up view of the pleasantly lush, green lotus pond in the middle of the complex’s colonial facade, which adds a sense of coolness and peace in the midst of the surrounding tropical heat.

A close-up view of the square lotus pond, adjacent to the Sala Rim Naam Restaurant, the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.

Another close-up view of the lovely lotus pond, a great tropical gardening idea!

Another close-up view of the square tropical lotus pond at the Sala Rim Naam Restaurant, the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.

The following is truly a uniquely Asian gardening concept: walls of bamboos provide pleasant, cooling shades of green along the winding walkways.

Walls of bamboo trees provide cooling green shades along the winding walkways, the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.

For more information on dining at the Sala Rim Naam Restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, please visit the following link:

http://www.mandarinoriental.com/bangkok/dining/restaurants/sala_rim_naam/

And for information on my dining experience at the Sala Rim Naam Restaurant, please visit my blog article via the following link:

http://latztravelandfoods.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/bangkok-buffet-thai-buffet-by-the-river-at-mandarin-oriental/

Happy gardening and dining, wherever you are in Thailand, and around the world!

Lat (Ratasit C.)

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