11:55am, Thursday 10 April 2014
Many people wonder what is the best time for a holiday in Thailand. While each season has its charms March and April are perhaps the most beautiful months at Faasai. The highlight of the resort (apart from the staff) is our gardens and at this time of year we have a succession of flowering trees coming into bloom.
The first to flower in March are the jacaranda trees which are growing along the flowering walkway we have beside our big lawn. Although our trees are still quite small, they are already starting to make a lovely display with their mauve flowers and feathery leaves.
The jacarandas are followed by another native tree with purple or pink flowers fading to white, the lagerstroemia floribunda, also known as the Thai crepe myrtle. We have many different varieties of lagerstroemia at the resort and the local council has planted a showy variety along the road front. We have wild trees which are mostly purple and cultivated varieties with showy pink flowers. Lagerstroemia are the provincial tree of Saraburi province in central Thailand although they seem to grow very happily here in the east.
The tembusu, or fagraea fragans, is another indigenous Thai tree which also comes into flower in March or April. This is the provincial tree of Surin province in Isaan, near Ubon Ratchathani, the home province of Surin, the owner of Faasai Resort and Spa. He remembers these trees were very common in the trees and forests which used to surround his home when he was a boy and so planted many of them at the resort and our farm. It is extremely fragrant and when in season the small yellow and white flowers scent the air in front of our Cattelya House and our staff pick bunches of the flowers for the rooms and the restaurant.
In April the flame trees and the golden shower trees start to come into bloom. Given their names, they need little description! Our dream was to make a spectacular avenue of flame trees lining our driveway however the trees seem to come out at different times. This is nice in a way as it means the beautiful sculptural flowers blossom for a long time. At their peak, the falling petals create a red carpet along the driveway.
The golden shower tree, also known as cassia fistula, is the national flower of Thailand and has dangling sprays of yellow blossoms, rather like a golden wisteria and it is an ancient tree which is considered to be holy in the Buddhist and Vedic religions.
As for Chanthaburi's provincial tree, it is, appropriately, a fruit tree. The moon tree or diospyros decandra has golden fruit rather similar to persimmons. We have planted three of these at the resort and many more at the farm. It is related to the ebony tree and slow growing so our trees have yet to bear fruit.
At this time of year many other flowers are also out, including the red, orange and yellow flowers on the ixora hedges which have planted all around the resort. These are much loved by bees and butterflies and we make flower jelly from the sweet-tasting flowers. The birds are very active too at this time of year. The nectar eaters such as sunbirds have an abundance of flowers to choose from and the other birds can gorge themselves on fruit and insects.
One of the interesting wild fruit trees we have in the garden is the lakoocha, which has orange fruit, a bit like apricots, which is very popular with different kinds of birds including mynahs and our resident drongos as well as squirrels. Unfortunately the fruit is very soft and drops to the ground making a mess of our drive-way. The squished fruit it is not as pretty as the flame tree petals unfortunately but we think it's worth the inconvenience to give shelter and nourishment to our wildlife. And if we can get the fruit down from the trees we love to eat the fruit too while our housekeepers put it on their faces as it is a natural skin whitener!