An important part of the beauty of Phuket are the tropical gardens
which grace almost every hotel and resort property. A drive around
the island will pass countless landscaping and nursery centers where
both local Thais and foreign residents spend hours deciding upon
the right plants for their gardens.
But it was not always so in Thailand. Until just one hundred years
ago, there were few planned gardens as people only grew a small
vegetable and herb garden for private consumption. As sixty per
cent of the country was covered in dense forests and jungles, the
local peoples were more interested in clearing vegetation for agricultural
land than landscaping the jungle into a place to relax. And due
to the intense heat and monsoons, few people considered a stroll
in the outdoors as a way to relax.
Gardens were also not popular as most Thais lived on waterways
to avoid the tigers, snakes and other wildlife that lived in the
Even today when the forest and jungle regions have been reduced
to less than twenty per cent of the country, most Thais avoid areas
where there is dense vegetation for fear of cobras.
The first significant gardens in Thailand were combinations of
Chinese landscapes mixed with English and French garden designs.
When the Thai King Rama V returned from visits to Europe at the
end of the last century, he brought back a new Western architecture
which included designs for gardens which were built in the Royal
Today's luscious gardens found at most resorts are combinations
of plants that are native to many different regions of the world.
For example, the common bougainvillea which colors the island with
its bright flowers was brought from the Caribbean.
Phuket has trained landscape architects who are skillful with the
art of combining tropical trees and foliage to maintain the visitor's
expectation of a visit to paradise.