The garden here is a tiled yard with four trees (ylang ylang, pink frangipani, and two that I don’t know) set in the ground, and an orange jasmine (currently in flower, smells great) in a very large pot. There are also two attractive green lamp posts. We have four local plant nurseries, and plants are cheap in Thailand, so there’s ample scope to go on a gardening spree, which I have duly gone and done.
I’ve organised my pot-plant garden in clumps around the trees and lamps, and in front of the water pump to try and conceal it a bit. A couple of things are on the porch, but I haven’t done much with that space yet. It gets sun, so I’m planning to have tomatoes on a trellis.
I’ve been having such fun. Since I’m geeking out over these plants, I thought I’d do a few posts about them.
Today’s first star is this hibiscus, which I think of as the clown-face flower. I think it’s a White Versicolour / Hawaiian Dot. The flowers are huge.
Second up, Fagraea ceilanica, aka perfume flower tree:
I’ve had this one for a few years, but only found out its name a couple of days ago, when I went to Chatuchak plant market and asked a seller who had one. Locally it’s called Puang Kaew Muk Daa, or just Kaew Muk Daa, and after a bit of experimenting with transliteration I found its Western names. The flowers do smell wonderful — rather like the lemon jumbles my mother used to make. It can grow up to 10 metres in the ground, but has never grown very much in its pot — until now. The info said that it’s a strangler when young, and a couple of days ago I noticed it was making a determined sally into the tree I had placed it next to. Thinking that the landlord wouldn’t be enormously pleased if I let it throttle the tree, I’ve put it against the wall, where it can grow over the railing at the top — which it now reaches — if it so desires. Mind you, on one side it still has access to the tree, so it will be interesting to see what it does.
Third, a “blackcurrant swirl” datura:
I had bought a red bromeliad, a red ornamental ginger, and a large crimson cockscomb (as well as a small cream one) to go around one of the lamp posts and its neighbour the frangipani, without thinking about the effect of so much red. It all looked too fiery, so my mission at Chatuchak was to buy some dark-leaved plants and/or things with white or cool-coloured flowers that would make attractive companions for my gang of red barons. There isn’t room for anything very tall there, and I ended up buying a couple of dark-leaved begonias that I was told will have mostly-white flowers, and three of the daturas. A right showstopper of a flower, with a triple corolla and a translucent pink effect in the white part when the sun shines through it. However, the fragrance isn’t the sumptuous experience I’d imagined from descriptions. It’s pleasant, but the orange jasmine and ylang-ylang needn’t worry about the competition.
(N.B. the buds seem to fall off the daturas rather easily. I’m experimenting with different positions and amounts of water to see if I can make them happy. Everyone seems to agree that they need big pots, so I will repot them, which I know will cause more buds to drop, but better now than when they’re bigger with more to lose; and apparently they’re gluttons for fertiliser, so I’ve dosed them up with bat guano.)
“It is all a matter of syphilis,” reflected Des Esseintes, his eyes attracted, riveted on the hideous marking of the Caladiums, lit up at that moment by a shaft of daylight. (À Rebours, J.K. Huysmans)
Routes/roots not taken in the garden of forking paths:
Speaking of smell, at Chatuchak there were a couple of big Aristolochia or Dutchman’s Pipe vines, whose completely outrageous flowers are giant veiny mauve stomach-like bags that open into maroon-and-white patterned satellite dishes, which unfortunately broadcast the odour of rotten meat and attract flies, so that while I wanted to buy one for its looks I couldn’t say I was actually tempted. But I was tempted — though resisted, in the end — at one of the local nurseries, by a nipple tree. Basically, it grows little orange space hoppers, which are adorable. However, the leaves are rather unattractive and covered in thorns, and it’s a pretty big plant; it would dominate the garden in the way a crashed flying saucer would, and I’m trying to get the hang of thinking of overall effects rather than just throwing together things I like — which is too often my approach to, or rather flight from, design in general.