In the eleven years since Her Majesty gave her name to The Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, this northern oasis has become an internationally recognized centre for botanical study and research, providing services on biodiversity and environmental conservation, while creating an aesthetic place for the general public.
Clinging to the foothills of Doi Suthep- Pui National Park, the gardens are about two kilometres beyond the Mae Sa elephant camp at the twelve kilometre marker on the Mae Rim-Samoeng road, some 27 kilometres to the northwest of Chiang Mai. From the roadside, visitors enter the gardens via a bridge over a stream, and are greeted by an explosion of colour from beautiful flower beds on manicured lawns. An information centre, manned by friendly and helpful staff, stands near the main entrance. From this point the visitor can take one a number of nature trails traversing the almost one thousand hectare grounds.
Along the trails one can see many of Thailand's flowers, tree, plants and herbs in their natural habitat. The four main trails are:
At the top of the hill lies the vast Greenhouse complex, opened in 2001 by HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, and comprising four exhibition conservatories and eight display glasshouses containing a myriad of indigenous and other exotic plants. The complex shelters plant species grouped according to their environmental conditions and uses. The atmosphere within each house is automatically monitored and controlled, with humidity, ventilation and light being constantly adjusted.
Emphasis is currently being given to exhibitions of the orchid and the lotus, firm favourites of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, who this month celebrates her 73rd birthday on 12th August 2005.
Indeed, the orchid house here houses the largest collection of indigenous orchids found in the forests of the kingdom, with more than 350 species on display.
Within the complex are The Tropical Rainforest House: The largest conservatory with a floor space of 1,000 square metres, and standing 33 metres tall. As the name suggests, it holds a large variety of tropical species from Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia, such as palms, bananas, and those of the ginger family.
The Arid House: features desert-dwelling plants such as cacti and agaves from America ; euphorbias and aloes from Africa, and the native euphorbes. Also located in the Arid House is a collection of Cycads, the most primitive group of seed plants.
The Orchids and Ferns House: Contains a variety of tropical orchids and ferns. Of the 177 genera that comprises 1,200 species, the garden has 80 genera of native orchids including 350 species in its living collection.
The fourth conservatory is The Aquatic House: This shelters over 100 species of aquatic plants, which grow at the edge of rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and marshes. On display here are collections of beautiful water lilies, aquatic ferns and water hyacinths.
The garden also provides facilities for researchers and students of all levels, and many joint-venture projects have been set up with a number of institutions and universities nationwide. Students and researches are welcome to make use of the excellent botanical library in the grounds of the garden. The Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden is open daily from 0830 until 1630.
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