Once inside the entrance, I am again amazed by the super-sized mix of horticultural artifice, serious science, commerce, and whimsy.
But it is miserably hot and humid today – far more so than yesterday, so we begin with a trolley tour.
The trolley takes us past a selection of gardens representing various counties from around the world. The sponsors of some – like the Dutch exhibit – are obvious.
For others, I find myself searching for clues.
There is also entertainment here, including a Thai dance show. It would be lovely to watch, but the relatively small amount of seating is set far, far back from the stage to begin with and there are no seats available anyway. Watching Thai dance from a great distance doesn’t really work, since so much of the beauty and meaning is relayed in small gestures and expressions. We compromise, by joining the techies standing by the speakers at the far edge of the stage.
My goal for the day is a visit to the Thai gardens. These turn out to be a whole series of gardens and green houses – a lot to tackle in this heat and humidity, but that’s ok. I’ve already gotten more than my money’s worth. Anything more is gravy.
So we escape the heat by entering a greenhouse boasting a Thai tropical garden with funky tropical plants infested by some very odd-looking bugs.
My real reason for returning today is to see the lotus gardens. I love lotus plants (both the flowers and the form of the plant itself are awesome), but have had little luck growing them in my pond at home. In Minnesota lotus are rarely found even in extravagant water gardens, so I’ve been dumbfounded by the fact that every neglected damp ditch seems overflowing with huge, blooming lotus plants.
The lotus garden should be amazing.
The lotus “garden” turns out to be a few scrawny potted plants mixed in with some tropical waterlilies. I could do this in my pond at home, if I were only to put the necessary effort into it. Still, both the waterlily and lotus blossoms are beautiful. They just aren’t overwhelming.
We take a break in a shady area where we watch an amazing bug of some sort flit about like a big hummingbird. It buzzes loudly as it moves, helping me track its movement through the trees.
Our next stop is a Thai “village,” with models of traditional teak houses. The display inside each house includes beautiful paintings and traditional crafts. Outside, small shops sell small Thai handicrafts.
We wander past vast gardens of golden marigolds (dedicated to the king) and more shops selling crafts, but it is hot and we have seen enough. Besides, we have to make a dinner and shopping date with our new California friends.