Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Winter Travels - Part 4: Temple, Palace, and Museum Gardens, Bangkok, Thailand

In addition to Malaysia, I also got to go to Thailand and Singapore for a few days. Both places offered much horticultural interest but while in Singapore this consisted mainly of a number of different parks and gardens, in Bangkok I was more taken with the details of intriguing details of garden design and use of ornamental plants that one can encounter throughout the grounds of many well-known temples, palaces, and museums. Rather than doing a bunch of different posts I therefore decided to simply compile some of the interesting things I saw in a number of places around the Thai capital, none of them primarily famous for their gardens.

One noticeable feature virtually everywhere was the the use of large containers with tropical waterlily cultivars (Nymphaea sp.) sporting blue, purple, or pink flowers or lotuses (Nelumbo nucifera). Moreover, the latter is ubiquitous not just as an ornamental plant but also as a cut flower used as an offering during Buddhist prayers.

In the Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of the Emerald Buddha that forms part of the Grand Palace Complex

Another Example from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

A blue waterlily flowering in a large pot in the grounds of Wat Arun

Rows of containers with flowering waterlilies at Wat Arun

A double lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), also flowering in a container at Wat Arun

Other potted plants commonly seen include desert roses (Adenium obesum) in different shades of pink and red and many evergreens trimmed into bonsai-like topiaries.

An Adenium obesum cultivar with reddish flowers at Wat Arun

A potted topiary tree at Wat Phra Kaew

Another one from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Topiary trees, however, seem to play a central role not just as container plants but also as the dominant feature of in-the-ground plantings:

Flower beds at Wat Phra Kaew

More from Wat Phra Kaew...

...And  a bit more of a close-up

In front of the Grand Palace

In the Wat Arun compound

Aside from neatly trimmed formality there were also some less formal spaces I liked, however, particularly at The Jim Thompson House and the Suan Pakkad Palace:

At Suan Pakkad Palace

The entrance court of The Jim Thompson House

A Spirit House at The Jim Thompson House

Shady walk

A creeper on a brick wall

All of these gardens are relatively small and are probably often overlooked next to the major architectural and other cultural attractions and religious sites they are meant to adorn and yet I think they are quite rich in interesting detail and potential inspiration. I for one would love to have a row of containerized waterlilies like those at Wat Arun...


  1. Those water containers are so effective in evoking an exotic look without taking up too much space. Miss visit Jim Thompson's garden soon!

  2. lovely pictures. yes the waterlilies in containers are a very common and absolutely lovely way to decorate places in this part of the world. a lot of folks have other small flowers in earthen/teracota containers in their homes that they replace every day.


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