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Learning from Mother Natture: Dokmai Garden Chiangmai

Dokmai Garden Chiangmai is a family business with the aim to promote tourism, horticulture, and mushroom cultivation. Located in Hang Dong in the Chiang Mai province, they have developed a former longan plantation (Dimocarpus longan is an edible fruit) into a modern ethnobotanical garden with emphasis on fruits, vegetables, trees, and mushrooms. “Dokmai” means flower, but the Garden focuses on all living beings, including birds, fish, butterflies and mushrooms. Southeast Asia displays so much more than orchids. The planning, design, and research is an ongoing collaboration with colleagues from Thailand, China, Japan, and Sweden.

The shop is made from teak wood, which was taken from old houses, and the design by local architects is inspired by the Northern Thai Lanna style. In the shop you will find only products of the highest quality, (e.g., antiques, wood, silk, cotton, and mother of pearl), carefully selected by the Seehamongkol family. A selection of biological literature, including Flora of Thailand, which is sold without profit to promote knowledge of plants.

The garden is compact (only 24 rai or 4 hectares) Sixty years ago, the acreage was covered with valuable teak trees. After the trees were harvested the nude land was abandoned. It was only then by ploughing the plants back into the soil could propagate life. Because the land is mostly flat the terrain enables the visitor to focus on the plants, rather than on physical discomfort in the tropical heat. Sip a glass of wine or fruit juice while slowly strolling and reading multilingual informative signs on about 700 selected tropical species and varieties. The gardeners are experienced farmers, so, with interpreters, visitors may gain insight into authentic Thai farming and the cooking of different plants.

The garden is laid out in intriguing sections such as the “Butterfly Restaurant”, “Poison Dangers”, “Kitchen Recipes”, 18 varieties of bananas and here you are welcome to eat samples from the bunch. Beware of the trendy round orange decorative known as “cartoon” that looks like a gourd, but, don’t be misled--it is not edible. It is from the potato family but in Mexico where it originates it is used as a pesticide killing cockroaches.

After the walk, visitors may also want to paddle around in an antique teak-log canoe, wash the water buffaloes, or drive the rice tractor " go ahead!

How to get there: Drive south on Canal Road. The distance between the first sign and the Sameong intersection is 8 km. The driving distance between the airport and Dokmai garden entrance is 17.5 kms. Follow the blue and white signs to the Dokmai Garden. 386 Moo 10, Namprae, Hangdong, Chiang Mai 50230. Phone 089-433-9045. Entrance fee. Open daily 9 am to 4 pm.

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