Thursday, 22 May 2014

More spherical lore...

It was Isaac Newton who first proposed that Earth was not perfectly round. Instead, he suggested it was an oblate spheroid—a sphere that is squashed at its poles and swollen at the equator and, because of this bulge, the distance from Earth's centre to sea level is roughly 21 kilometres (13 miles) greater at the equator than at the poles.

Just as fascinating and probably a tad more entertaining is this optical illusion: 
click on the link

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Chelsea Flower Show 2014

Its that time of year again when all the hard, heavy spring work in the garden is beginning to pay off and those that have made a very real effort can now visit / watch the Chelsea Flower Show with a slightly smug look on their weather beaten faces. Those that haven't yet tackled their own big spring garden clean up, now have to face the beautifully primped and preened show gardens at Chelsea and will inevitably have to compare and contrast their own plot. Sometimes the contrast can be just too overwhelming and despair and dark gloom sets in. This year I'm glad too say we're happily smug. Can hardly stand up straight, but still smug.

Looking at the list of this year's exhibitors, our attention was caught by the entry designed by Pattaya City & Nong Nooch Botanical Garden celebrating “Thailand: Our Pride, Our Monarch & Our Cultural Heritage”. 

Having spent many years living in Thailand, Stoneballs Company is all too aware of the magnificent range of plants that are easily available there - be it large glossy, dark foliage shrubs and trees or magnificently  scented, wildly floriferous plants that appeal. Even in the polluted and often yellow hazy air of Bangkok trees, shrubs and flowers all thrive happily alongside motorways, public parks, back yards or on tiny balconies with little, or seemingly, no attention. There are numerous 'garden centres' to be found alongside multi lane highways or along small and narrow urban streets, all selling a huge range of potted palms, Bougainvillaea and exotic orchids to name but a few. And all for a tiny price. 

Nong Nooch Gardens Pattaya
A popular style of garden often favoured in Thailand, is a neat and manicured look and often with fantastic topiary. Bushes and hedges are clipped within an inch of their lives into weird and wonderful shapes. We have seen a herd of elephants clipped and roaming across a lush lawn. These manicured gardens also have swathes of bright, garish flowers such as Bromeliad, Ginger and Gardenias in swooping, spectacular borders. Such a spectacle.

Sofitel Hotel Hua Hin

In contrast another type of popular landscaping in Thailand is (not surprisingly due to the tropical location) a lush and free jungle effect. An amazing place to see this style is at Jim Thompson's house in the middle of Bangkok - a collection of traditional Thai teak houses with soaring roofs set within a glorious tropical jungle garden. (The house and garden were created by an American, Jim Thompson, who having reinvigorated the Thai silk trade in Thailand by developing new techniques  designs and colours, disappeared without trace whilst walking in the Cameron Highlands in 1968.)

The garden here is a perfectly controlled jungle (contrary, I know) Brimful of old, huge trees which shade the garden and house.There are also many tall palms including slender betel nut palms and Fan palms. The tall canopy and large space below the tree canopies gives a welcome respite from the tropical sun. The bright semi-shade supports a lush and richly varied understorey of mainly foliage plants and these contribute to the distinctive character of the garden. It's a haven to visit particularly as its set in the middle of soaring skyscrapers, wide roads and the ever present roaring traffic of Bangkok. Well worth a visit.

Jim Thompson garden Bangkok

Stoneballs Company is certainly looking forward to seeing the Pattaya City and Nong Nooch garden at Chelsea and I'm sure it will bring back many fond memories of time spent in Thailand. Good luck to all at Chelsea, may the weather be bright and dry!