When you become a piece of the garden
Clearly I am getting old, every day adds to the numbers resulting in more years, and one consequence is a reluctance to leave the garden. Any reason, even going away for ten minutes to buy beer at the bridge, feels like a tremendous sacrifice and exchange of calm with ‘hectic’ street-life (in fact Namprae village is not hectic at all, objectively speaking). Yesterday morning when I woke up and walked through the glistering green and heard a myriad (well, at least a dozen) of bird calls and saw the chicken, guinea fowl, dog and water buffalo I felt such a strong love – could I ever leave this garden?
Time is no concern. I plant little seedlings and mount tiny orchids in the trees, and I know they will eventually grow big. The important thing is to constantly develop, not to get trapped in just weeding or maintenance. The result of continuous development is new blossom and fragrances every year. Small gets big. A Sapindus rarak, the real soap berry of the genus which gave the name to the entire family of litchi, maple and longan (Sapindaceae) has suddenly become a leggy ‘teenager’ towering any other tree in its vicinity. I can remember when I had to search for it among the weeds.
Last evening was a climax of Gardenia coronaria blossom – the scent carries far away and is yet quite modest, almost like a drug, you do not want to go indoors. The bush has never carried more blossom, amazing! Loving a garden also means painful suffering when a beloved plant is hurt or sick. Our frontside jackfruit looks pitiful. Last year it formed a load of fruits and that seemed to have caused exhaustion. We shall move it to a vacation site later today. The Seehamongkol family all agree this must be a grafted dwarf, because “…seedlings always grow big”. In this respect I have no experience at all, I am still a child learning from trials. I want a big jackfruit. I think they are handsome although more difficult to harvest than handy suburban dwarfs. If anyone has experience of jackfruit cultivation, please share!
The bael flower (Aegle marmelos, Rutaceae) bloomed on May 17. These trees were germinated from seeds and are now five years old. The bael trees reaching maturity is an important step in the development of Dokmai Garden. Sliced fruits boiled in syrup result in a sweet drink reminding me of liquid caramel. The plant can be found in the nearby jungles and is also delicious in its fresh stage.
Text: Eric Danell
Photo: Bruno Pécontal