The Siam tulip is the star at floral exhibition the “Queen of Tropical Rainforest” at the Emporium
CITY FOLKS who rarely have the opportunity to get out of town have a new option from today with the opening of the “Queen of Tropical Rainforest” exhibition at the Emporium. Continuing through Monday, the event is showcasing more than 200,000 multicoloured Siam tulips from nine hybrid species as well as other native flowers.
The exhibition, which marks Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 85th birthday and Mother’s Day, is the result of a collaborative effort by the shopping complex, the Play La Ploen Flora Park in Buri Ram province, and His Majesty the King’s Initiative Centre for Flower and Fruit Propagation in Chiang Mai.
“In addition to marking Her Majesty’s birthday, the exhibition aims to promote the wild flower known as the Siam tulip and conserve it. It is today Thailand’s second largest exported flower following the orchid,” says Kriengsak Tantipiphop, chief executive of The Emporium Group.
“The Emporium and EmQuartier host seasonal festivities throughout the year, and have collaborated with Play La Ploen Flora Park many times. This project came about through discussions with Porntip [Atsadathon], the owner of the floral park, about what we should do to honour Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. She suggested that we look to the royal project that His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej initiated to increase the output of Thai agriculturists,” adds Sutavadee Sirithanachai, deputy managing director of the two downtown stores.
Known in Thai as dok krajeaw, the Siam tulip is a tropical plant of the ginger family that flourishes in dry dipterocarp forest and pasturelands in the northeast and east regions. The flowers bloom in July and August and certain species have been developed into ornamental plants for export under the name Siam tulip.
“Our park offers seasonal floral showcases all year and we have been experimenting with Siam tulips for five years. The first year, we brought Siam tulip bulbs from agriculturists in Chiang Mai and Phayao then learned how to grow them with the Initiative Centre for Flower and Fruit Propagation,” says the flora park’s Porntip Atsadathon.
Visitors can immerse themselves in a magnificent 1,000-square-metre floral show boasting more than 200,000 flowers and other plants. The highlight of the exhibition is a striking peacock installation, adorned with the “Royal Thai” collection of nine Siam tulip species.
Specifically researched and developed as a part of the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Accession to the Throne in 2006, this “Royal Thai” Siam tulip series is unique. The hybrids boast several outstanding qualities such as bright colours, thickness, sturdiness, unique petals arrangements, length and strength of the stems, yet remain delightfully petite. They were registered with and have been protected by the Plant Varieties Protection Office since 2011.
The CMU Manee Siam species of Siam tulip
The indoor meadows share space with the Emporium’s retail area and other parts of the complex. The Emporium Gallery on the M floor pays tribute to His Majesty the late King with the exquisite peacock floral installation created from Siam Tulips and other flowers.
“Play La Ploen Flora Park in Buri Ram has planted special breeds of Siam tulips specifically for this event, using thousands of Siam tulip bulbs and a well-timed growing process to synchronise with the Mother’s Day celebration. We are delighted to be bringing these colourful flowers to Bangkok. Some of Siam tulips were planted by children, who attended the charity project ‘Siam Tulip for Children 2’. We selected less-fortunate schools for the project and provided its students with education and resources in commercial Siam tulip farming. Specialists teach students how to plant Siam tulips and about the export process. The proceeds from selling their flowers will go directly to a charity that funds school lunches,” Porntip says.
“Visitors can shop for Siam tulips and students from Buri Ram will also offer a workshop on how to grow Siam tulips.”
The RT Thai Garnet hybrid
The Emporium Motion Hall on the ground floor is the temporary home of a beautiful 12-metre-tall peacock sculpture placed in the middle of vibrant Siam tulip garden. Here too visitors can find the Initiative Centre for Flower and Fruit Propagation’s “Royal Thai” Siam Tulip exhibition featuring the nine new species.
“The Royal Thai collection comprises of Siam tulips that were interbred by specialists around the country for the 2006 celebrations. Initially, we selected the six best breeds of Siam tulips and named them the Royal Thai and in 2011 we expanded to nine species and registered them with the Plant Varieties Protection Office,” says Assoc Prof Soraya Ruamrungsri, the Centre’s director.
The Pink Coronation Siam tulip
The Siam tulips making up the Royal Thai collections each have their own names: RT Great Reign, RT Pink Coronation, RT Sweet Memory, RT Golden Reign, RT Majesty Coronation, RT Thai Garnet, CMU Tubtim Siam, CMU Manee Siam and CMU Sweet Rosy.
Pedestrians crossing the Emporium Bridge also benefit from the floral display thanks to a colourful Siam tulip field and an extravagant botanical tunnel of dischidia, marble queen fern, long stem fern and more. The Emporium Link and BTS Phrom Phong Station gave been planted with Siam tulip gardens along with an interesting weaving exhibition that showcases Thai wisdom and craftsmanship.
“The Initiative Centre for Flower and Fruit Propagation was established in 1980 after King Bhumibol gave Bt80,000 to assistant professor Dr Pisit Worrai, who at that time worked as a lecturer at Chiang Mai University, to create an experimental project of flower breeding in Baan Rai village. In 1992, the centre started combining Siam tulips from different regions to create species with vivid colours, durable and beautiful petals, strong and long stalks and a compact-size stem,” Dr Soraya says.
Spread over 33 rai, the centre focuses on improvements in inter-species breeding to create new hybrids of plants and blossoms. In addition to the Siam tulip, it has successfully bred gladioli, star lily and zinnia that are hardy enough for the Thai climate and meet the demands of local and international markets.
In 2010, the centre taught villagers to grow Baan Rai sweet, CMU sweet lady, CMU vista, CMU miracle, yuki, nikata and the Baan Rai Burgundy species.
It has now registered 67 new species of Siam tulips, gladiolus, star lily and zinnia with the Department of Agriculture and continues to educate villagers about improvements to husbandry in Chiang Mai, Phayao, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Phichit, Kalasin, Maha Sarakham, Chachoengsao, Yala and Narathiwat.
“We endeavour to help villagers and agriculturists generate more income by regularly organising workshops on producing and breeding orchid, flowering plants, flowering-pot plants and fruit plants,” Dr Soraya says.
Kunchaya Sawasdee demonstrates how to pick Siam tulips at her Sawasdee flower garden.
Entrepreneur Kunchaya Sawasdee, who has operated the Sawasdee flower garden in Chiang Mai for more than two decades, has contributed 8,000 white Siam tulips of the Lanna snow species along with white jasmine and montblanc to complement this floral festivity.
“I set up my garden in 1993 to showcase several kinds of blossoms. In 1998, I decided to devote all space to Siam tulips. I started planting Siam tulips in April and May so that they would bloom in July to October. Most of our income comes from |selling Siam tulip bulbs and their blossoms can be found at Bangkok’s Pak Khlong Talad, Talad Thai |in Pathum Thani and Warorot |market in Chiang Mai. I also export Siam tulips to Italy and China,” Kunchaya says.
A worker at the Sawasdee garden arranges a bouquet of Siam tulips.
IN FULL BLOOM
“The Queen of Tropical Rainforest” exhibition is on view from today until August 14 at The Emporium shopping complex.
Find out more at www.Emporium.co.th.