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The 16th Flora of Thailand Conference

March 3, 2014

Although Dokmai Garden flourishes, tourism suffers as usual during times of political turbulence and embassy warnings. To keep up the spirits I have been asked to write a blog now and then from my exile here in Sweden.

At present I teach botany in Sweden, but a student of mine will spend a few weeks at Dokmai Garden to train his skills as an arborist. As mentioned before, our gigantic forest mango is in need of a tree surgeon to remove parasitic Dendrophthoe parasites.

Another piece of news is that Kew Gardens in Richmond/London will host the 16th Flora of Thailand Conference. I have been invited to give a talk about Dokmai Garden’s Orchid Ark. If more Orchid Arks appear as a result then I can die in peace. Dokmai Garden’s efforts with the Orchid Ark was recently published (Wearn & Schuiteman 2013: Plant Conservation in Thailand: Dokmai Garden and the Orchid Ark. National History Bulletin of the Siam Society 59(1):5-14).

Other reports from Dokmai Garden is that the weather was surprisingly wet this past cool season and fires unusually obnoxious. At present the hot flowering season has just began. The lambs run around as if they own the place and the experiment to keep sheep for mowing seems to have turned out well.

Here in Sweden we have had an unusually mild winter and a very early spring, so I have experienced a most agreeable transition from the tropics to more northern latitudes. Nature displays spectacular views  everywhere you go!

Dalby ring.72

Dalby Söderskog National park, Sweden.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2014 7:21 PM

    I’ve been surprised by the winter pictures I’ve seen on Swedish blogs I’ve been following since joining WordPress 3 years ago. For the first time, I’m noticing bare ground all season there…how unusual is this?

    • March 3, 2014 8:20 PM

      Sweden is 1500 km from north to south so indeed there are differences. This year was unusually mild, also far north, while the winter before we had plenty of snow.

  2. roland mogg permalink
    March 3, 2014 7:28 PM

    is dokmai gardens still closed? can we go and walk around? roland (thank u for your visit to my house)

    • March 3, 2014 8:18 PM

      Dear Roland,

      Yes, it is still closed to the public although we have some educational activities.

  3. March 3, 2014 8:18 PM

    Hi Eric,
    I am surprised that you wrote about the wet cool season. This winter it was very very cool very cool. But not one drop. The last rain in Chiangmai fell December 10. The result is that it is dry now and that I have more diseases in my garden than other winters,especially the fishtail palm had big problems. And about tourism: the problem is of course BK but CM had many tourists not fewer than last year. The Chinese made it up.
    What I really would like to know if if we still can visit Dok Maai Garden. I thought it was closed now you are no there anymore. last months I have visitors who really wanted to go so is it still open? I hope so. It was always great to visit.

    Cheers, Annelie

    • March 3, 2014 8:30 PM

      Dear Annelie,

      Our segment of tourists, i.e. educated and relatively well situated westerners, are scarce if media broadcast political unrest. We have experienced this phenomenon for many years. Chinese, bar-hoppers and back-packers visit Chiang Mai in masses, but most of these tourists have other destinations in mind. The garden will be open to some educational activities but closed to the main public for a while more. We consider this tourist season lost, focusing on the upcoming cool season.


    • March 3, 2014 8:31 PM

      Hi Annelie,

      I monitored the Chiang Mai rains via my smartphone and via phone calls to the head gardener. They had plenty of rain in November and even mid December, which is quite unusual. It seems back to normal now.


  4. March 3, 2014 9:45 PM

    Fires unusually obnoxious? From Lampang east to Nan yes, but yet to get serious in Chiang Mai. Perhaps DokMai Garden had nearby burning?

    • March 4, 2014 12:38 PM

      Yes, the fires around Dokmai Garden were bad and during the Chinese New Year Chiang Mai suffered a lot from the smoke of forest fires.

  5. kentiopsis permalink
    March 4, 2014 6:48 AM

    Eric, It’s always great to see something from Dokmai Dogma in my mailbox. I finally moved to Khonkaen from Honolulu in November. The lack of rain and low humidity in Isaan during the dry season have been a shock. Humidity is half of what it is in even the drier parts of Hawaii, and we’ve had only one day of rain since I got here. This requires real adjustments in gardening technique. We also had a real cold spell here, colder than the coldest weather i experienced in 35+ years in Hawaii—as low as 11 C for several weeks. It’s starting to warm up considerably in Khonkaen now, and predominant winds have shifter from the north to the south and southwest. The rains can’t be long off.

    I’m glad to hear that your transition to Sweden has been so smooth. Regarding the warm winter in Sweden, I can add that the weather in Anchorage, Alaska, where I grew up has been very warm this winter, and there is almost no snow on the ground at all. The effects of global warming are quite pronounced there, with temperatures far warmer in winter than when I was a child.

    I’m happy to hear that the Orchid Ark is getting the recognition it deserves. Thank you for your work.

    Last, can you tell me if any of the palm seedlings I gave to Dokmai Garden have survived? I lost all the ones I brought here before I realized what was happening. I believe it was the low humidity that got them, but I don’t know.

    Very best regards,
    Ken Banks

    • March 4, 2014 12:35 PM

      Dear Ken,

      Thanks for encouraging remarks. According to the gardeners the palms are doing fine in the nursery. As to climate, the worst in terms of drought is yet to come. The hot dry season in the north and northeast just began, so March and April will be terribly hot and dry. Some years that drought goes on into June. The only two months with reliable rains are August and September. Normally the rains cease in mid october which is why last year’s rains in November and December were a surprising treat.

      During la Nina years we may get rains as early as March. The flora of the Chiang Mai valley is adapted to these extremes, flooding and drought. Be prepared to use irrigation at least sometimes for ten months, and avoid planting rain forest plants unless you live at high altitude or create a shady waterfall.

      However, the hot dry season, which is now, is also the flowering season!


  6. March 4, 2014 1:31 PM

    About Sweden’s warm winter and Thailand’s coldest perhaps and certainly in most memories take a look at the temperature anomoly map in this post : . If the red north does not ring alarm bells folk are surely living in a fools paradise.

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