A Glimpse into the World of Rare Foliage Plants, Beautiful Garden by Bensley Design Studios

A Glimpse into the World of Rare Foliage Plants, Beautiful Garden by Bensley Design Studios

Bensley Design Studios is a design firm with many world-class hotels to its credit. Notable among these are the Four Seasons Tented Camp, the Four Seasons Koh Samui, the Kempinski Udaipur, the Siam, and the Indigo Pearl to name a few. Founded by Bill Bensley, who collabed with business partner Jirachai Rengthong, the firm has won acclaim for outstanding works in architecture, interior decoration, garden design and landscape development.

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, ThailandBensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand

“Botanica Garden” is a nursery in Chiang Mai that’s home to hundreds of leaf plant species that Jirachai, an avid horticulturist, has cultivated over many years. It’s an oasis of beautifully maintained greenery that proves a perfect complement to the works of Bensley Design Studios. Some of the young plants grown here are offered for purchase at Kham Thiang Market, Chiang Mai’s largest botanical marketplace.

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Sunlight gives bromeliad plants their bright color and beautiful form. Bromeliad requires direct sun for only half a day. In a nursery, mesh fabric capable of 50 to 60 percent protection will suffice.
Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Variegated Malayan spurge trees are succulent plants in the Euphorbia family. They thrive in full sun. Plant stems will grow tall and turn mostly green if placed in low light conditions.

For several decades Jirachai has nurtured and grown foliage plants and tropical species from across the globe at this nursery. He started out with varieties of bromeliad, cordyline or good luck plants, philodendron, aglaonema, anthurium, calathea, and agave before moving on to a detailed study in plant behavior and the breeding of plant specimens by natural processes.

As Jirachai put it, “Normally, after we buy unfamiliar species native to the equatorial climate zone, we try propagating them from the parent stock and observe how they respond to new environments. Every detail counts. Some species perform better in Chiang Mai producing brighter color leaves than they do in Bangkok. Interestingly, others fare badly when planted in the ground. Some species thrive in full sun, while others can tolerate partial shade. We also discover that cordyline or good luck plants perform better in soil than in organic coconut husk pieces. They don’t shed leaves when planted in soi, but they do when put in coconut husk.”

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Philodendron is no stranger among garden growers. Available in many different colors and leaf forms, they are good for interior decoration and make great garden attractions.
Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Panama hat palms are known for beautiful leaves that resemble fan blades. They don’t grow very tall, which makes them suitable for planting as privacy screen.
Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Plants in the family Araceae come in a wide variety of growth forms, both terrestrial and aquatic.

Offering an open view of the surrounding area, the nursery is canopied by black mesh fabric that gives protection from the sun. Plants that thrive in partial sun are grown here. They are safe in the hands of experienced gardeners.

“Propagation by air layering is a method that should be used in a bid to prevent plants from shedding leaves. Once roots have sufficiently developed, the stem can be cut from the parent plant and potted up. This allows the new plant to grow into naturally beautiful form. As for philodendron, coconut husk pieces are preferred over soil,” Jirachai explained. Apart from the propagation of plant species for decoration and sale, the nursery also specializes in cross breeding to produce desirable features in one offspring. Some young plants are so original and unique that they can fetch as much as a million baht.

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Foliage plants, such as croton, enjoy full sun to produce brilliant color.

“Caring for plants the right way, only Osmocoat fertilizer is added to soil once every three months, while 16-16-16 fertilizer is used once a month. As for bromeliad, ferns, and philodendron, Osmocoat alone will suffice. This fertilizer is effective in stimulating growth in potted plants. The same applies to ferns, but it should be diluted with water and given using sprayers.”

“Pests that attack these plants aren’t many. They include varieties of coccidae, or scale insects, and fungal infections that happen in the rainy season. Sprayed insecticides will likely stay long enough to have effect. Philodendron and anthurium can be raised as indoor houseplants. Give them just enough water and avoid being waterlogged. Place containers where it’s well ventilated. To protect against fungal infections, avoid moist or wet locations.”

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, ThailandBensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, ThailandBensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand

That concludes our handy hints and a guide to leaf plant care. For more information, drop by Botanica Garden, or give them a visit at Kham Thiang Market next time you’re in Chiang Mai.

Story: Panchach
Photographs: Sitthisak

Singapore’s Largest Forest Town in the Making

Singapore’s Largest Forest Town in the Making

SINGAPORE / An eco-smart city promising 42,000 new homes is poised to become the largest evergreen forest town in Singapore with the move-in date set for 2023.

Tengah the Forest Town

Designed to reduce CO2 gases that trap heat and drive extreme weather, the eco-friendly city plan features cutting-edge technologies, including water and electricity conservation features, plus an automated, enclosed waste collection system.

Revolving around the slogan “At home with nature”, the development project comprises five residential districts with plenty of gardens laid out for public enjoyment and recreation across 7 square kilometers of land. Plus, it’s a relatively short distance from water catchment areas and nature reserves.

The eco-city of Tengah, dubbed Singapore’s Forest Town, is located on what was formerly military training grounds and home to brick factories in the island’s western region.

Tengah the Forest Town

For many people, the massive project evokes fun memories of city-building video games, but this is a real-life future city master plan ever undertaken by the Singapore Housing and Development Board to create new homes, workplace and public spaces set amid safe and sustainable surroundings.

To reduce greenhouse gases, solar power and other forms of clean energy will be integrated with the comprehensive plan to keep the city cool and reduce the need for air conditioning.

Other low-impact measures in preparation include making the city center a car-free zone and the promotion of green commuting by providing safe bicycle track systems and easy access to public transportation, namely the MRT Jurong Regional Line and bus services.

Scheduled for opening in 2023, the Forest Town of Tengah will become the 24th residential project undertaken by HDB since World War II.

Tengah the Forest Town


Singapore Housing & Development Board (HDB):



Image: Housing & Development Board (HDB) 

New Forest Park the Pride of Bangkok

New Forest Park the Pride of Bangkok

BANGKOK / As many probably already know, Fort Canning Park is one of Singapore’s largest public parks. It features nine historic gardens that are part of the “garden city” vision introduced in the mid-1990’s. Do you know that in the near future, upon completion of Phases 2 and 3 of the Benjakitti Park expansion project, Bangkok will join the ranks of ASEAN capitals with vast networks of parks to preserve local ecosystems. It represents an important step forward to increase the quality of life for many residents as well as visitors.

Bajakitti Forest Park
A graphic rendition of Benjakitti Forest Park, a future urban e cosystem in the heart of Bangkok.

Opened in 1994, Benjakitti Park underwent the first phase of renovations in 2016 on an area of 61 rai. Phases 2 and 3, which include an expansion and landscape improvements, are currently progressing on schedule. The new, updated Benjakitti Park extends over an area of 259 rai that originally was home to a tobacco manufacturing facility. Costing 652 million baht to build, the monumental forest park project is a joint enterprise involving the Finance Ministry Treasury Department, the Royal Thai Army, and the Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts, which is responsible for design.

Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park

The urban forest project will provide a new ecosystem that supports the quality of life in the city. It’s designed to give rise to a biological community that depends on an intricate network of water channels, which in turn is crucial to the growth of trees and shrubbery and habitats for many animal species.

Like a super absorbent sponge, the park’s unpaved grounds are capable of soaking up in excess of 128,000 cubic meters of storm water during the rainy season. Plus, it doubles as a treatment plant that produces as much as 1,600 cubic meters of treated water per day. The existing trees, 1,733 in all, have been preserved. To create a pristine forest landscape, they plan on adding a variety of native tree species, among them Lumpae (Sonneratia caseolaris), Lumpoon (Sonneratia ovate), Kheelek (Senna siamea), Sadao (Neem), Bodhi or sacred figs (Ficus religiosa), Banyan trees, Yangna (Dipterocarpus alatus), and Takhian (Hopea odorata). 

Bajakitti Forest Park
A graphic rendition of Benjakitti Forest Park, a future urban e cosystem in the heart of Bangkok.

Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park

That’s not all. Currently plans are afoot to connect Benjakitti Forest Park with a trade show pavilion and three nearby museums; namely the old tobacco factory building, an urban forest life museum, and a museum in honor of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother. There will also be demonstration rice paddy fields for kids, plus bike trails and a skywalk system connecting to Lumpini Park, a landmark public green space in Pathumwan District.

Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park

The forest park project will bring benefits to not only the city and its people, but also healthy habitats for many animals. It provides temporary refuge to migratory bird species, a place for physical activity, and room for our children to spend more time outdoors. Most importantly, it removes pollutants and gives us clean air to breathe.

Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park

Benjakitti Forest Park will be open to the public in phases, the first of which is scheduled for the 12th of August this year. Access to the entire project will open around February 2022.

Source: Facebook / Army PR Centerสวนป่า-เบญจกิติ/

Images:  Facebook / Army PR Center

10 Great Plants for Tropical Rainforest Landscaping

10 Great Plants for Tropical Rainforest Landscaping

How do you do tropical rainforest landscaping? Use high-tolerant plants that grow well in heat and humidity. Living ASEAN has put together the following list of 10 tropical species that are generally easy to find in all ASEAN countries:

/// ASEAN ///
  Photography: Rithirong Chanthongsuk, Sitthisak Namkham

Bromeliads (Urn Plant): these are ornamental plants with beautiful flowers, slow-growing, easy to care for, and drought-resistant. They do well both where there is a lot and a moderate amount of sunlight. If one gets a lot of sun, the leaves become more and more colorful. Bromeliads give off oxygen during the night and absorb carbon dioxide, making them especially suitable for bedroom placement.


Spikemoss fern (Selaginella Involvens): a ground cover, this is also known as “medical spikemoss” or “peacock fern.” It’s fan-like, with rounded, flat, bushy leaves, and often found in dense forest around steep mountain slopes or near rocks that get moderate sun.


Left: Begonia: represented by many species, it thrives in humid forests, and is thought of as a forest flower. There are both edible and are inedible varieties., For an an alternate sour taste, edible varieties can be used instead of lime in tom yam soup. The inedible varieties have velvety leaves.

Right: Fan palm (Palas Payung): the standout feature of the fan palm is its wide, spreading leaves, resembling folding fans. It can reach four meters in height. Leaves end in sharp, thorny points.


Left: Staghorn Fern (Climbing bird’s nest fern): this fern has climbing roots and thick, green leaves covered with fuzzy hair. The leaf ends fork, resembling a stag’s antlers. For their beautiful and unusual shapes, and their moisturizing quality, they’re often used as ornamental plants.

Right: Coriander-Leaf Fern (Sphenmeris Chusang): this ground fern, found along the face of earthen cliffs or in foothills, does well in shade or indirect sunlight. The petioles about 30cm long, and leaves are delicate and reminiscent of coriander.


Left: the Bead Tree (Elaeocarpus Grandiflorus) has a forest habitat. With gray-brown bark and thick, green, oval-shaped leaves, it produces white flowers with a light fragrance. It’s often found growing on the sides of waterfalls.

Right: Australian tree fern (Dicksonia Antarctica): easy to grow, this rapidly growing fern with a chubby trunk grows in places that are humid, but not too wet. Its leaves grow out bushy and beautiful, but it produces neither flower nor fruit.


Left: The round-leaved banyan (Ficus Annulata Blume) stands out amid a bed of spikemoss. Leaves are round and small, dark green, with smooth edges. It produces a round berry-like fruit, yellow-orange when ripe. It’s considered a good-luck tree, associated with wealth. It grows best in dim to medium sunlight.

Right: Simpoh ayer (Dillenia Suffruticosa): this medium-sized shrub flowers white and is often used in house decoration. In its native to Malaysia, ayer thought to bring good luck. At full size it’s about 8-10 meters tall.



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Rainy Season Forest Garden for Tropical Areas


Tropical Garden for Extended Family
Tropical Garden Ideas for Big Family





Rainy Season Forest Garden for Tropical Areas

Rainy Season Forest Garden for Tropical Areas

Rainforest ecology is the design concept here, the verdant lushness associated with tropical jungle. Use high-tolerance plants that adapt themselves to the natural environment and don’t require a lot of long-term care.

/// Thailand ///
 Landscape Architect: Warawut Kaewsuk, Supong Haewpet  /// Photography: Tanakitt Khum-on

– Image of Garden and House –

Here emphasis is on the garden: the designer has removed the house from the diagram to focus on the surroundings, revising and reapportioning them to bring back the feeling of the rainforest that was once there; the house will be added later. The owner’s first concern is creating a waterfall, pond, and gazebo for relaxation; only then will the concept be enlarged to include a house in a supporting role for the garden, enabling the owner to fully enjoy this creation.

– Building a Forest-Like Atmosphere –

Garden design deals with three primary levels: low, medium, and high. A forest atmosphere is created visually through using the natural lines of the plants. Trees are the highest, rising up above, but freshwater mango can be a slightly lower exception with curves leaning together, arbor-like and welcoming, above the house entryway. Plants of middle height running along the fence can add privacy. For ground cover use plants with wavy and sinuous lines set at natural-looking intervals, closer to the water source perhaps ferns, and further downstream plants requiring less moisture.

– Waterfall Format –

Think of the stages of a natural waterfall: first is seepage, small drops descending along crevices in the rock; these eventually join and flow into a larger falling stream. The waterfall should not be so high that it could get the house wet, and it should give off a soft, restful sound. Because of space limitations, trees should be put in before the waterfall framework is built, otherwise there won’t be space for any large roots. Ponds should be designed about 0.8 to 1 meter deep. Waterfalls are usually built using 2 types of stone: granite and porous volcanic rock.

– Creating an Ecosystem –

In general the garden should be based around medium-sized and small plants. Plan sections with plants that grow naturally by themselves: vegetable fern, various kinds of glochidon, forest lilies, roselle, Malay ginger, rhododendron, etc. Combine these with plants available in the general landscaping market: monkey grass, Siam tulip, turmeric, elephant ear, and so on. Use as few imported varieties as possible and organize them so they can adapt symbiotically, offering natural benefits to each other; this will make for easier maintenance.

– A Standout Point : Easy Maintenance –

This type of garden requires little maintenance and doesn’t use ordinary grass, although surrogates such as monkey grass can offer a similar atmosphere. Where it’s shady, pebbles or fine gravel can be used as ground cover: this gives the garden a tidy look, and can be used to create a walkway around the house, protecting against the entry of poisonous animals. Maintenance of a rainforest garden mostly involves only pruning, and with minimal exception, pesticides or poisonous substances aren’t needed.

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The House in the Rainforest Garden



Gardening with Water Science


Gardening with Water Science

Gardening with Water Science

Besides nurturing plants, water has many garden uses:  fresh, exciting ornamentation, for one.

/// Thailand ///
Story: Panchat Changchan /// Photography: Baanlaesuan

– The sound of water –

If a garden includes naturally flowing water or an old pond or spring, the water can be used to drive a fountain or water wheel, or dammed up to control the flow near a garden entrance or a relaxation spot.

Or, original garden fixtures such as walls or other architectural elements can be used with pumping systems to create dimensional motion in the form of a waterfall wall, or an artificial waterfall. Here, choose rough-surfaced materials and/or steep surfaces so water running across them produces a strong, clear sound. This can be enhanced by controlling water pump pressure.

– Images reflecting beauty –

The inherent reflective property of water can bring a more spacious garden atmosphere, adding dimension and color as well as changing motion and texture. We see this in world wonders such as the Taj Mahal and Wat Kinkakuji Temple, as well as in “infinity” swimming pools at seaside resorts. Reflection always creates feeling and perspective in the viewer, often simply a function of the width and the stillness of the water. A lake or large pond dug next to a  garden highlight can create a beautiful view for people looking from the opposite bank.

– Lights in the water –

Lights in and around the water create worlds of brightness and shadow above and below the surface. Refraction creates beautiful, entrancing “water ghosts.” Underwater lights should be used in conjunction with well-structured ponds and good treatment systems to ensure easy maintenance, protect against damage, and to get bright, clear underwater lighting. Only specially designed light bulbs adapted for low voltage should be used underwater.

– Mist to create dimension –

Mist or water spray is commonly used in tropical or jungle gardens, mainly with minispray-type sprinklers primarily intended for watering and moisturizing plants, especially large ones such as ferns or orchids, but incidentally also cooling the garden. Nowadays minisprinkler heads are often hidden among plants or in spots among small shrubs and ground cover plants, but they can be also be used with fountain systems to create mist in the middle of ponds, adding a different kind  atmosphere or narrative than usual to sculptures or pond highlights. A good example is in the yard in front of the Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux, France.

– Related sculptures –

Water can itself be used as a sculpture, or in combination with actual garden sculptures, statues, fountains, European-style bird baths, or for fish ponds, as in Thai gardens. Statues using water as ornamentation usually highlight its motion, spouting up or falling. This is common in ordinary fountains, but other water properties can be used in combination, for instance transparency. Water curtains or moving shapes that look like glass can be created. And water plants themselves often have beautiful and unique shapes.

– Creating a good ecosystem –

The most important use of water in the garden is to create life and maintain an ecosystem that faithfully imitates nature so the garden can grow sustainably, not only for plants, but as a home and food source for water creatures and many other living things. If you have a large area for a garden, you could begin by digging a pond about one-fourth its size to hold rainwater, then use that pond for watering plants as well as to grow local water plants and riparian vegetation. Make an artificial waterfall, grow interesting plant species large and small, and even enjoy the delights of raising fish!

Tropical Garden Ideas for Big Family

Tropical Garden Ideas for Big Family

Big families deserve spacious backyards. This large tropical garden is a treasure trove of design choices that celebrate nature. There is plenty to learn from it.

/// Thailand ///
Story: Panchat /// Photography: Sungwan Phratep /// Design: Surin Kamolsiriwat of Bannsuantaweekoon



The compound has plenty of room for three houses with carports and a building used for accommodating guests. The built environments that provide the setting for human activity exist together in one big nature-filled space. For a humid climate, the homeowners put a mix of Tropical plants in between buildings. It’s not an easy task because each green space has to suit the specific needs of ones who live there.

For the father’s house, the designer puts in a flat concrete paver passageway that is easy to walk on. It is lined with only a few low-maintenance trees. He also spruces up the corridor with an assortment of potted plants turning it into colorful works of art.





Nearby two other houses belonging to his sons stand a good distance from guest accommodations. They boast beautiful tropical gardens that look much greener than that of the father. Shaded by big trees, the buildings are spaced to allow winds to reach ventilation openings.

At ground level, dependable native species of shrubs and groundcover plants in rich tones go to work protecting the soil. They include red gingers, ferns, firebrands and zebra plants. Where there is direct sunlight, the designer puts in flowering plants filling every nook and cranny with colorful blossoms.

“The key to garden design lies in a good knowledge of plants and the ability select and incorporate them,” explained the designer. “Large trees love strong sunlight. So we plant them along the edges. They provide welcoming shade and give the property value and character. Meantime the species that don’t need much sunlight look their best at the center of the garden.”





For a large backyard, water features are a must. They fill the tropical garden with soothing sounds of running water and give it natural forest appeal. Here the beautiful backyard does what it says it will do – provide a setting for family activity. Together different generations enjoy the great outdoors without leaving the comfort of their extended compound.



Stunning Authentic Tropical Garden

Stunning Authentic Tropical Garden

For an escape from the chaos of the concrete jungle, nothing compares to this garden with an authentic tropical look. The salubrious backyard has got them all – the rainforest canopy, bird sounds, and the mellifluous music of rustling leaves and waterfalls.

/// Thailand ///
Story: Isara Sonsart /// Photos: Sitthisak Namkahm /// Garden Decorator: Suansuay Landscape Co., Ltd.




Even as he lives in the city, the owner of this house considers himself a nature lover. Without hesitation, he sets aside more than half of his property for forest gardening incorporating trees, shrubs, perennial vegetation and water features.

When he told the garden designer what he wanted, the designer not only set up a Tropical garden, but also made the house an inextricable part of the lush oasis. Beautiful black palms were planted to shade the house against the sun. Australian rose apples were put in along the perimeter wall to camouflage the house from the outside. And a backyard waterfall was built near a sundeck designed for family activities.



The heart of this little forest is a pavilion overlooking a really beautiful garden with a fishpond. Visitors can gaze in admiration at brightly colored carps swimming in it. One has to cross a small wood bridge to get there. Mimicking real forests of the Tropics, it’s a health giving place and a perfect sight to see.

“I feel relaxed physically and mentally every time I come into this garden,” said the owner. “After a hard day at work, I need this delightful ambience to make me feel rejuvenated and better prepared for the future.”



The Tropical garden setting has charmed small animals. The owner said that birds and squirrels always visited here, giving him the opportunity to study their behaviors closely, which didn’t occur often in the urban area.

A perfect retreat from city life, it’s where you can feel the breeze blowing in your hair and leaves rustling in the wind. The sounds of moving water make it feel like an escape to another world – one embraced by Mother Nature.


French Cottage Garden

French Cottage Garden

The beautiful cottage garden at the Melt in Your Mouth riverside cafe’ was born out of a warm, semi-formal style of southern France.

/// Thailand ///

Story: Warapsorn /// Photos: Sitthisak Namkahm /// Photographer Assistant: Busakorn Kuankid /// Garden Decorator: Suthathip Phaiboonnunthaphong and Isara Phaengsri

The pavement leading to the cafe’ is covered in black carpet stones. For a pronounced look, the gaps between stones are filled with fine-grained gravels.

Two siblings, Somboon and Poonsuk, have always been hard-core coffee lovers. They decided to make use of a plot of land belonging to their father by turning it into a cozy café on the bank of the beautiful Kok River in Chiang Rai.

Bushes trimmed for a manicured appearance mix well with nearby freeform flower plants. The vine-covered façade of the café enhances the garden’s natural ambience.

“The original design was a raw, wooden-focused because there were only coffee and few Northern dishes on the menu. Later the architect suggested that the café would be too big for just a small number of dishes. At the time, a senior acquaintance of ours came up with European food and cake recipes. So, we toned down the café design from a raw look to a French vintage style.” Kulnaree Suralertrangsan, Somboon’s wife told us.

“We knew nothing about garden landscaping. Luckily, someone introduced us to Suthathip and Isara. Customers often asked us about the style of our garden. We had to go back to Suthathip and Isara to learn more. They said it was called Southern French style. The design coincided with the café by chance.”

The cafe’ is an elegant glasshouse, parts of which are covered in Cat’s Claws (Macfadyena Unguis-Cati (L.) A.H. Gentry) giving the space a vintage look.

The garden is semi-formal in style with a black water fountain at the center. It’s an outstanding feature there. The garden floor is covered in black carpet stones with fine-grained gravels filling the gaps in between. Neat, well-trimmed shrubs, notably Fukian tea trees (Carmona Retusa), thrive along the edges. Nearby colorful flowering plants abound. They include Chinese violets (Asystasia gangetica), cat’s whiskers (Orthosiphon aristatus), snow roses (Serissa) and shrubby bush clovers (Lespedeza bicolor). Their vibrant colors provide a welcome contrast with the surrounding hardscape.

Clever outdoors hacks: A lone park bench is thrown in to break a long line of violet wild petunias (Ruellia squarrosa (Fenzi) Cufod) along the stone paver walkway. /// Little African violet pots are put on the edge of the walls.

Different types of pine trees are also grown here, for example, creeping junipers (Juniperus procumbens), Italian cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens L. ‘Stricta’), Khasi pines (Pinus kesiya Royle ex Gordon) and Orientali arborvitae (Thuja orientalis Endl), which go together well with a European-style garden and thrive in cool weather in the northern part of Thailand.

The cafe’s glass walls provide opportunity for customers to connect with the outdoors.
A fair amount of space is left between shrubs for easy access and care. Fine-grained gravels provide a welcome contrast to nearby lush foliage and flowering plant species.
Flowers and grasses make for beautiful table decorations and fit in amazingly well with a relaxing ambience.

There is a seating area next to the front courtyard, which serves as a reception area and a popular photo spot. Table sets await customers who prefer dining alfresco on a nearby stone-on-grass lawn. Meantime, cool breezes keep the spacious river-view terrace comfortable all day long. It’s a lifestyle in close touch with nature. Herbs, such as rosemary and mint that thrive on the premises, are picked fresh everyday for use as ingredients in food and drinks on the menu.

The semi-formal courtyard showcases a gorgeous mix of beautiful shrubs trimmed for a manicured garden appearance. Fukian tea trees and Elfin herbs thrive alongside lively colors of flowery bush plants. Freeform shapes prevent the garden from looking too formal.
A large table set in the middle of the garden is perfect those who love dining alfresco.

Besides the relaxing atmosphere, the Northern cuisine is the main attraction here. Those mouthwatering dishes made the traditional way combine to make this café an enchanting place to be. Its first-class recipe is a heritage from Somboon’s great grandmother, who was a housekeeper for Princess Dara Rasmi in times past. For visitors to Chiang Rai, spending an afternoon here is obviously an unforgettable experience.

The beautiful allure of a fountain garden makes it ideal for family activities and social gathering. Ground cover filling the gap between stone pavers strikes the right balance between hard objects and lush greenery. /// A small table set under an old Indian almond tree gives a hint of a tea corner in France.


Amazing Maze Garden / Enjoy a Walk in the Garden Maze

Amazing Maze Garden / Enjoy a Walk in the Garden Maze

On Cairnhill Road, only 5 minutes from the city’s main drag of Orchard Road, we arrive at the Ritz-Carlton Residences of Singapore, the first Asian residence in the Ritz-Carlton chain. Besides opulence, contemporary design, and a raft of conveniences, there are a lot of interesting garden and outdoor areas here.

/// Singapore ///

Story: Woraphason /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham /// Designer: Eco-id Architects

View from above reveals the elaborate graphic pattern of the maze.
Domed Victorian gazebo at the exit, a perfect use of classic architecture
Entrance driveway is paved with cobblestone set in patterns, lined with plant containers of trimmed hedges, and edges hidden by hanging mouse tail plants.

On both sides of the entrance walkway are orderly hedges, with ground-cover vines hanging down the sides of plant containers bordering the lush green garden as it welcomes us in to the elegant lobby on the ground floor of a lofty 36-storey building. The modern-style garden in front has orderly hedges, but also something of a tropical flavor. One main section is a small area containing three separate spots where small parties can be held, each with a small barbecue pit, dishwashing sink, and a lawn table set. Walls of colorful plants separate them. Next to this is a swimming pool with a contemporary design, with lawn chairs in private gazebos for relaxing with cool drinks after getting out of the pool.

A nice space for a small party, with a dishwashing sink and a place to set prepared food
Black-bordered pond, the contemporary sculpture beside it creates a point of interest.

An interesting feature is the classic quatrefoil design artfully placed in spots inside and outside: on the waterfall wall, entry door, marble floor inside the building, and metal plates on the walls.

Low-growing plants contrast with taller ones. Red varieties such as Chinese witch hazel create an asymmetrical look, with beautiful perennials such as the silver trumpet tree interspersed here and there.
Tropical plant colors and textures mix in the garden.
A stair down to the lower parking level is planted with hanging ivy to reduce the rigidity of the wall and the shine of its surface.
A gray gazebo on the path helps break things up so the garden doesn’t look too orderly.

A “secret passage” on the other side of the building leads through hedges on a concrete path whose twists and turns reveal one section after another, as a stunning garden maze invites us to come in and play at trying to find a way out. The magenta cherry hedges inside the maze are trimmed waist-high for open visibility, giving a feeling of safety. A domed Victorian-style gazebo near the exit provides a rest stop for tired searchers. Nearby are tennis courts for exercising within the green garden atmosphere.

A rest spot by the swimming pool: Pulling down the canvas shades blocks the sun and gives privacy.
One side of the swimming pool wall is surfaced with quatrefoil (four-leaved flower) -patterned metal.
The walkway from the garden seems to float on the water surface, but it isn’t really scary to walk on.

Besides the gardens surrounding the lower building, outside the upstairs meeting rooms and gym is a roof deck garden with three levels where one can sit and enjoy the cool breeze and scenic view. From here we look down to admire the gardens below, including that bewildering garden maze.

Magenta cherry hedges in the maze make the surroundings look exotic.
Looking up through the open roof of the domed gazebo to the Ritz-Carlton Residences
The wire mesh tennis court is overgrown with vines for a different kind of beauty.