Mae Fah Lung Gardens.
(Perched in a flowery bower in the Mae Fah Lung Gardens)
To reach the incredibly lovely Mae Fah Lung Gardens in Thailand, my mother Edith and I took a local bus from the main bus terminal in Chiang-Rai, in the northern reaches of the country, paying just 22 baht each, to Doi Tung, a mountain resort. This site was chosen by the late Queen Mother, mother of the current King Bhumibol Adulyadej who has reigned on the throne of Thailand for 61 years. This spot, tucked into the folds of green highlands, reminded her of the years she spent in Switzerland as a young wife and mother. Attempting to recreate the ambience of the foothills of the Alps in her region of the world, she embarked upon the ambitious plan to convert the area into a tiered garden in an attempt also to propagate the concept of soil conservation in the depleted habitat. She also built herself a Swiss-chalet style house and designed the surrounding area to resemble English-style country gardens reminiscent of the Swiss home in which she had lived for many decades and raised her children.
(Intriguing sculpture and summer blooms make the gardens an unforgettable Eden)
At the foot of the mountain, we transferred into a mini-bus that for just 75 baht each took us up to the mountain and back. We were joined by two English sisters, Donna and Tanya, who shared our vehicle and talked to us about their wide travels in South East Asia.
Once up on the mountain, my Mum Edith and myself, both passionate gardeners, lost ourselves in the wonders of the Mae Fah Luang Gardens which were in full bloom and created such a spectacular set of sensuous delights. We took countless pictures among the coleus, dahlias, roses, hollyhocks, orchids and petunias (below) that were planted in tiers on the mountainside in an absolutely ingenious landscaping design.
(My mother Edith, an avid gardener, found the gardens truly enchanting)
Sculptures, waterfalls, rock gardens, etc. added to the atmosphere of this wondrous place and made for some very soothing hours indeed. The gardens employ an army of staff to keep them sprucely tended and we saw so many gardeners working like busy bees to make sure that not a petal was out of place in those vast environs. We did not visit the Swiss chalet-like villa of the Queen Mother as we had dallied for long in the gardens.
(Mile upon mile of colorful flower-beds cover the tiered hillsides)
It is a pity indeed that these gardens do not attract as many visitors as do the other sights of this amazing country. Few people lingered along the lupins while we were present–but their loss was our gain for we had the gardens to ourselves and for a while at least imagined ourselves in our own private Eden.