Dokmai Garden in moonlight
Last night we had French and Thai friends here for an Esan barbecue. A peculiar device resembling a giant orange squeezer was put on a terracotta bucket with burning fire wood. Lard was melted on top and then pork soaked in milk was barbecued. Noodles, seafood and vegetables simmered in liquid in the bottom of the device. We enjoyed the food with hot sauces, beer and soft drinks.
After dinner we grabbed flashlights and visited our grand old lady the Thai black tarantula. She was in an aggressive mood as usual, apparently not remembering last time when we generously fed her a living spiny-tailed house gecko.
We moved on to look at Papilionanthe teres orchid flowers, cacao fruits, kapok blossom, fragrant jasmines and jessamines, climbing mulberry and listening to the red-wattled lapwings. In the moonlight the Dokmai Garden aluminium signs looked like mirrors, and studying the flowers one by one using flashlights was very pedagogic.
The garden is in fact very enjoyable at night when the air is cool and the background to the flowers is dark. In the early afternoons the heat makes animals and gardeners sleepy and the light is so strong the colours are bleached. In fact, our guests proposed we should offer this experience (private dinner and garden tour by night) to Chiang Mai visitors, so we hereby invite you to try this option!
Faradaya splendida (Verbenaceae/Lamiaceae) is rare in nature, confined to the rain forest fringe of Queensland’s coastal forests. At Dokmai Garden it grows into a massive liana. In daytime you hardly notice the blossom, but at night the fresh flowers and their subtle fragrance makes your heart beat faster. It makes large poisonous fruits resembling white potato tubers or rather noni fruits. A Thai name is ‘aranyika’ but it is a recent introduction to the Chiang Mai gardens and still quite uncommon. It must not be confused with ‘hiranyika’ (Beaumontia multiflora, Apocynaceae), another woody and white-flowered liana, equally enchanting.
Text & Photo: Eric Danell