Biennial 2012 – Thailand

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Date(s) - 09/11/2012 - 09/18/2012
All Day


The 2012 Biennial meeting was one of the most exciting destinations ever – a return IPS Biennial visit to Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden in Thailand.

In September 1998, the IPS Biennial was hosted by Kampon Tansacha and the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden. Without exception, participants in that event consider it one of the premier Biennials of all time. The IPS was quick to accept the offer from Kampon and the Garden to revisit this marvelous garden and areas in September 2012.

The 2012 Biennial kicked off with a Welcome Dinner on Tuesday, September 11th and concluded with breakfast on the following Tuesday, September 18th.

 In addition to the Biennial, IPS members attending had the opportunity to participate in one of the two following additional optional events, – an optional Pre-Tour to Southern Thailand and an optional Post-Tour to Vietnam (Trang / Krabi / Phang-Nga / Phuket areas)arranged by Dr. Andrew Henderson through the New York Botanical Gardens.


Thailand is a southeast Asian, predominantly Buddhist kingdom almost equidistant between India and China. For centuries known by outsiders as Siam, Thailand has been something of a Southeast Asian migratory, cultural and religious cross-road for centuries. With an area of some 510,000 square kilometers and a population of some 57 million, Thailand is approximately the same size as France. Thailand shares borders with Myanmar to the west and north, Laos and Cambodia to the east, and Malaysia to the south. Thailand also shares a maritime boundary with Vietnam on the east of the Gulf of Thailand. Geographically speaking , Thailand is divided into six major regions: the mountainous north where elephants work forests and winter temperatures are sufficiently cool to permit cultivation of temperate fruits such as strawberries and peaches; the sprawling northeast plateau, largely bordered by the Mekong River, where the world’s oldest Bronze Age civilization flourished some 5,000 years ago; the central plain, one of the world’s most fertile rice and fruit growing areas; the eastern coastal plain, where fine sandy beaches support the growth of summer resorts; western mountains and valleys, suitable for the development of hydro-electric power; and the peninsular south where arresting scenic beauty complements economically vital tin mining, rubber cultivation and fishing.

Places visited during the Biennial

Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden
Focus for the IPS Biennial was at Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden in Chon Buri province, near Pattaya.

Wikipedia has an excellent write-up on the Nong Nooch Gardens, our primary destination: Click here to view
Per Wikipedia, Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden is a 500-acre (2.0 km2) botanical garden and tourist attraction at kilometer 163 on Sukhumvit Road in Chonburi Province, Thailand. It is also a major scientific center dedicated to cycads, with its own Cycad Gene Bank.

In 1954, Pisit and Nongnooch Tansacha bought 1500 rais (approximately 600 acres or 2.4 square kilometers) of rolling hills and valleys at kilometer marker 163 on Sukhumvit road in Chonburi province with the intentions of developing the land as a fruit plantation. However, Mrs. Nongnooch, during a trip abroad, was inspired by the beauty of the world-renowned gardens and decided to turn the fruit orchard into a tropical garden of ornamental flowers and plants and also establish a wildlife conservation project. The garden opened to the public in 1980, and management has since been transferred to their son Kampon Tansacha. The garden currently fills 500 out of the 600 acres (2.4 sq. kilometers).

The Nong Nooch palm and cycad collections are superb, and unmatched anywhere in the world. Palms are the main focus of Nong Nooch followed closely by cycads. There is nowhere you can go that you will not find beautiful specimens of palms growing from every corner of the tropics. Over 1,000 species are planted with most represented by three or (generally) more individuals. Some of these are even undescribed species. The year round tropical weather and superb growing conditions has created the perfect scenario for some of the most beautiful specimens to be seen anywhere. Many are housed in the Hortus Botanicus collections where they can be easily studied by researchers wanting to do horticultural and taxonomic work on live plants. The Asian species are foremost in the collection, but species from around the world are very well represented.

For cycads, the garden focus is on Southeast Asian, tropical American and central African species of cycads, but a collection of almost every species can also been seen here. In connection with conservation agencies, the gardens cycad collection serves as an important ex situ conservation site for this endangered and ancient plant group. Continuing research at the garden concerning taxonomy and horticultural use of cycads has increased the knowledge about this plant group worldwide.

The Gardens are divided into numerous different themed gardens some of which are:

  • Palms of the World Garden features many of the 1,000+ palm species that inhabit the Gardens. Generally there are not just one or two specimens of a species, but rather six or more specimens of hundreds of species. A fruiting Lodoicea maldivica, several large Copernicia baileyana planted next to Hydriastele costata and Corypha lecomtei next to Dypsis decaryi add to a surreal atmosphere of perhaps the best grown palms you will see anywhere in the world.
  • Cycad Garden showcases one of the foremost cycad collections in the world. Most are mature specimens and beautifully grown. The Asian Cycas specimens are a prime focus for conservation efforts.
  • Hortus Botanicus is an area of the Gardens that contains collections of palms, cycads, heliconias, gingers, cordylines and other plant families. Plants of each family are separated into their own area. There is a further breakdown of “new world” species (the Americas) separated from “old world” species. Plants are arranged by species in long raised beds where they can be viewed and compared with other species of the same genus. Many of the more than 1,000 palm species which are not planted elsewhere in the gardens can be found here and most are mature fruiting specimens. This is a shade facility with primarily understory species being showcased. To see all the plants here can take several days.
  • The French Garden is a reconstruction of a formal European Garden with sheared plants and intricate designs and pathways.
  • Stonehenge is a reconstruction of the original Stonehenge in England that sits in a formal garden next to the French Garden.
  • Cactus & Succulent Garden features a large representation of these plants from around the world. Much of this Garden is covered to protect the arid plants from Thailand’s tropical rains.
  • The Variegated Garden shows off the variegated oddities that have been grown at Nong Nooch and elsewhere. There is also one of the foremost collections of variegated Rhapis palms.
  • Nong Nooch also offers a separate Orchid & Bromeliad Display Garden, a Flower Valley, the Cart Cross Arboretum and other focus plantings.

In a non-palm arena, Nong Nooch Gardens has won the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show 2011 Gold Medal of the Great Pavilion Awards, repeating for a second consecutive year. Check out details on the Nong Nooch website,

The Nong Nooch Orchid Gardens feature the largest variety of Orchids in Thailand. More than 670 native species and hybrids are kept at Nong Nooch for breeding and research purposes.

In addition to examining the numerous garden plantings and wildlife, participants are able to experience religious ceremonies, martial arts demonstrations, massages, and elephant shows. The shows are presented 3 or 4 times daily featuring elephants with special skills in playing football, dancing, and interacting with tourists! “Come ride on elephants, sightsee the garden via mini bus or relax in our lake on a pedal boat.”

There are also restaurants, a small zoo, a hotel with a swimming pool and Thai style rental houses on the grounds.

Other areas visited by the Biennial

In addition to the Bangkok and Chon Buri areas, IPS Biennial attendees visited Khao Yai National Park, which is situated in the western part of the Sankamphaeng Mountain Range, at the southwestern boundary of the Khorat Plateau. This park lies largely in Nakhon Ratchasima Province (Khorat), but also includes parts of Saraburi, Prachinburi and Nakhon Nayok provinces.

The Khao Yai is the third largest national park in Thailand. It covers an area of 2,168 square kilometers, including evergreenforests and grasslands. Its altitude mostly ranges from 400 to 1,000 meters (1,300 to 3,940 feet) above sea level. There are some 3,000 species of plants, 320 species of birds (including the red jungle fowl and the green peafowl) and 67 species ofmammals, including Asiatic black bears, Asian elephant, gaur, a few resident tigers, gibbons, Indian sambar deer, pig-tailed macaques, Indian muntjacs, dholes and wild pigs. Its waterfalls include the 80 meter (262 foot) Heo Narok, Kong Kaew, and Heo Suwat made famous by the film The Beach.

Kong Kaew Waterfall is a low waterfall, which is especially beautiful in rainy season. It is caused by Huy Lam Takong stream, on the border between Nakhon Nayok Province and Nakhon Si Thamarat Province, The waterfall is situated 100 meters from Khao Yai National Park Office and Traveling Service Center and is and suitable for water contact activities.

In 1984 Khao Yai National Park was made an ASEAN Heritage Park, and on July 14, 2005, the park together with other parks in the same range and in the Dong Phaya Yen mountains further north was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Dong Phaya Yen–Khao Yai Forest Complex.

The IPS Biennial also visited the Tub Larn National Park, which contains the “biggest Fan Palm (Corypha lecomtei) forest” in Thailand. It is the second largest national park in Thailand with total area of 2,240 square kilometers (1,400,000 rais). The area within this national park offers various activities regarding the study of nature and wildlife. It has both plains and mountainous areas, some along the Panom Dongrak mountain ridge with its highest point on Lamonk mountain. The Lamonk mountain is the line separating Prajinburi Province from Nakorn Ratchasima Province with the height of 992 meters (3,250 feet_ above mean sea level. Tub Larn Park contains the origin of various rivers and creeks such as Huay Kamin, Huay Pla Kang, Huay Kum Sae, Huay Kee Rad, Huay Moon Sam Ngam, Huay Poo Hom, Huay Kra Ting, Huay Lum Lek, Huay Kood Tah See, and Huay Lum Duan, which come to meet one another and become Moon River, one of the important rivers of the northeastern region. In addition, other streams and rivers originating there include Huay Hin Yao, Huay Chom Poo, Huay Salika, Huay Wang Mid, and Huay Lam Yai Yaii, which merge to become the Bang Pa Kong River, one of the important rivers of the eastern region. Visitors had the chance to site some of the almost forty wild elephants, barking deer, deer, as well as various species of birds.