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Sweet May

May 31, 2012

This time of the year, the green season, the plants which stayed invisible and underground during the entire tourist season emerge. Tacca, Amorphophallus, Curcuma and Zephyranthes bring joy and colour to the Thai forests and gardens. It is a pity the traveling guides lure people to come here in November and December, a time when the native flora is largely dormant. It is not strange the resorts frantically plant South American exotics to have some blossom to show. Some even display artificial plants or replace the native flora with exotic weeds.

So what are the activities at Dokmai Garden when hardly any tourists are around? We enjoy the garden ourselves, and we plant many seedlings. I am also happy to report that the guinea fowl mother still has eight babies. Evidently some did not survive that first rainfall, and I figure eight chicken is what she could keep warm with her body. I saw our barn owl for the third time recently. It was in the same longan tree as once before, and it dropped a big dead rat on me. The rat had no head and no guts, just fur, legs and tail. I threw it to the silver pheasant, but like the snob he is he did not even bother to look at it.

Mowing is necessary now when there is an explosion in growth, but we have to be careful because the red wattled lapwing nests on the ground, and many valuable seedlings germinate now. The baby talipot palms (Corypha umbraculifera) which I planted last August show their first leaves. We have also prepared ourselves better for the upcoming heavy rains in August and September. The parking has speed bumps, which we made to keep the stream of uphill drainage water out of our garden. I am also planning for the ground orchid display, an attraction for the minority of tourists who come during the rainy season. That display is more important for the orchids’ establishment and reproduction within the garden, than to enchant the eyes of a visitor. Releasing orchids from pots is like releasing fish back into the ocean. Dive and be prosperous – do not get caught again!

Zephyranthes 2012.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

(Precipitation summary for May: yesterday night (the 30th) we had 7 mm., on the  26th we had 9 mm, on the 25th 28 mm, on May 9th 16 mm and on May 5-6th at least 90 mm. That means five occasions of rain of which only one also in daytime, a total of at least 150 mm which is twice the amount of the average May, as compared with average precipitation charts of the Chiang Mai airport. However, this unusual amount is largely due to one thunderstorm and since they are erratic it does not indicate anything about the trend for the following months. 2012 is still considered a neutral year).

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