Today was a big day. We flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand from Bangkok and were finally able to see the mega-sized water lilies, Victoria amazonica. These are the nearly mythical water lilies that were often depicted in old illustrations carrying the weight of a small child.
I have long been fascinated by their massive, prickly pads and had them on my list of absolute must-see plants while in Thailand. I was even lucky enough to see one with a flower bud.
We’re in Thailand! We’ve been here one full day and so far it is everything I imagined it would be. There’s constant visual stimulation and the plants are incredible.
I had hoped to do a proper post with pictures by now, but this whole jet lag thing is real and it is kicking my butt really hard. Instead, I’ve been adding pictures to my Flickr account as I go, along with a few Twitter updates as wifi becomes available.
My spouse Davin is only shooting film on this trip so I don’t imagine he will be adding any images to his Flickr account, but you can follow along with his side of the adventure via Twitter and cellphone pics.
Our friend and fellow plant enthusiast Derek is also on this trip. You can check out his view of the trip from his Flickr account. It’s especially nice to be touring around with other plant geeks — our mutual excitement is contagious, although incredibly dorky.
In just two weeks. This is how it happened.
During the Xmas Holidays we were sitting in the living room watching a television show called, River Monsters, which is essentially a fishing show but so much more. I’m really into fish and have kept freshwater aquariums on and off since childhood. Is there any geek hobby I haven’t tried? The answer is, no. But I digress. The host, Jeremy Wade, is a biologist and angler who travels around the world catching fascinating and fearsome freshwater fish (say that 10 times fast!). Each episode is an attempt to prove or debunk the myth of a supposedly man-eating freshwater fish. It’s a great show.
Fish ON! [Said with British accent].
While watching an episode that was filmed in Thailand, I turned to Davin and said, “Oh yeah, this reminds me that I got an email today asking me if I want to go on a garden writers press tour to Thailand. I kind of ignored it because it’s the Holidays and I’m trying to avoid thinking about work right now — I should take a second look.”
At which point I did take a second look, started to think about the possibilities, got excited about them, and sent in my pitch. Jump ahead a few months to just two weeks ago when we were given the go-ahead to purchase our air tickets to Thailand. And in another two weeks we are off!
Homage to Thalassa Cruso from Michael Weishan on Vimeo.
Lately I’ve been thinking about my gardening past: how I got into gardening and the first books, magazines, writers, and television hosts that inspired me. Coincidentally, just yesterday I learned about Thalassa Cruso, the” Julia Child of Horticulture.”
I’ve decided that she just might be my new gardening hero.
Through the late 1960′s Ms. Cruso wrote and starred in a PBS television show called “Making Things Grow.” She is described in the New York Times as a “… witty and acerbic Englishwoman…” and an, “Everygardener, a true amateur who drew her advice from personal experience rather than formal horticultural training.”
Sounds like a plantswoman after my own heart. Now, how do I get my hands on a copy of this series?
I’m at Disney World right now, where I will be giving talks on growing delicious and gorgeous food in small spaces until Thursday afternoon as a part of the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.
Yes, you read that correctly. You are not hallucinating. Or perhaps you are? Or perhaps I am. Maybe those bottles of water our liaison gave us when he picked us up at the airport were filled with *Magical* Disney Water and everyone here is participating in a giant group hallucination. Our minds are moving around a giant 50 square mile theme park but our bodies are asleep inside womb-like pods in one enormous room. If that’s the case, it’s all very well constructed because those painful blisters on my toes are terribly convincing.
Regardless, it is a very warm, sunny, and plant-filled hallucination so I accept.
I am told that it continues to be cold and grey back at home in Toronto so I am soaking up as much sunshine, warmth, and colour as I can in the days that remain. Here are a few sights from the first day:
I’ve spotted several tillandsia on this trip — they infest many of the trees — I’m showing you the first because it’s always the most exciting.
This is pink trumpet tree (Tabebuia impetiginosa). Several other people informed me via Twitter that there is a yellow version, too. For desperate, colour deprived Northerners, flowering trees are a religious experience right about now. Davin and I flocked around this one on one of my breaks between presentations like it was one of Epcot’s biggest attractions or a Disney child star roaming the parks. Squeee!!! Eventually a little girl asked her parents what was so special about the tree. They were as confused as she was.