Various kinds of flowers and flower arrangements can express the distinctiveness of Thailand which distinguishes it from other countries in
Asia. Flowers are specifically and emphatically used to decorate various events such as official, traditional ceremonies.
There was a recent report from the Thai Chamber of Commerce regarding the current lifestyles of Thai people. The report
showed an interesting fact: Thai people consume the lowest amount of rice despite the fact that Thailand is one of the
leading rice exporting countries. One of the reasons why the rice consumption by Thai people is decreasing might be from rushing
to the workplace in the early morning and consuming western-style foods during the rush hours because they do not have
enough time to prepare a proper meal. And it seems they are doing that during their leisure time as well.
The number of imported flowers from Europe is steadily increasing especially in Winter. There are flower festivals in
many provinces in Thailand such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Buri Ram. The Tulip is a very popular imported flower. During
the short duration of these festivals, the costs of importing and taking care of these flowers during the festivals is a high cost,
more than 30 million baht (nearly 1 million USD) to just see tulips in the flowerbeds. But many people, including the
government think it is worthwhile for promoting tourism. It also provides great satisfaction for Thai people who love winter
flowers that cannot be grown in Thailand due to the tropical climate.
The contrast is striking...
People consume less of one of their largest food exports but
consume more of their leading flower exports and imports.
Last year (2016) Thailand reached its aim to export Tropical orchids to the tune of 10 billion baht and became the top
exporter in the world. It is also fortunate that Thailand can export many winter flowers such as Roses, Chrysanthemums,
Gerbera, Lilly and Gladiolus to many countries. As for the aspect of economic advantage, Thailand gained the upperhand over
Indonesia and Japan ( which was third among flower exporting countries in that chart). The USA was second in the ranking of
countries that imported the highest number of flowers from Thailand in 2016.
In this issue...
I am honored to introduce Pakorn Preechaphong, a notable among the newer generation of florists in Thailand. Many years
ago, he was on the team of florists and landscapers who decorated the Belgium Garden in the area of Royal Flora Park,
Chiang Mai. The garden today is still maintained by the Royal Flora Park.
Here is the interview:
JY: Tell me about yourself and your work as a florist?
PP: I was born in Ranong Province in the South of Thailand.
I am the second son of four siblings. When I was in primary school, my two favorite subjects were
Agriculture and Art.
I intended to study at the faculty of Agriculture or Interior design in the university if I passed the university’s
entrance examination. However, my exam’s result was not so good, so I turned to study at the faculty of Economics, Ramkamhaeng University although Economics was not my
preferred subject but at that time the university had limited choices of faculties in which I could enroll.
After graduation, I did not work in the field of Economics because I was much more interested in learning flower
-arrangement. I joined a short course taught by Keerati Chana who was a famous Thai writer and professional florist. For my
working life, I was mainly occupied by flower arrangement and I worked with some friends who were in the same floristry class.
We have worked like freelancers who travel to many places to decorate premises with flowers. Then we decided to set up a
flower shop of our own for a while. Due to the bad economic situation of the country and a little boredom with tedious management, the shop was permanently closed. However, my
friends and I still accept floristry works at weddings, funerals, parties or product launches.
I had many opportunities to work in national and important events with two notable Thai individuals: Paothong Thongjue
and Sakchai Guy who is an editor of Lips magazine. Both of them greatly inspired me and gave me broader vision in the field of floristry.
JY: Besides the floristry business, what else do you do?
PP: Apart from arranging flowers in events or exhibitions, I usually arrange flowers in various styles, take some photos of
them and post these photographs on my Facebook and Instagram pages so my friends can see what I am doing. Flowers
are decorated in various places in my house and garden to offer ideas to anyone who wants to decorate their own houses with
flowers. For over a year, I selected some of the photos of flower arrangement and sold them at Shutterstock website under the username Pakorn Preechaphong.
As a young child, I loved to plant flowers and trees. My grandmother was an agriculturist. This might be the trait I got
from her. When I finished high school and traveled to study in a university in Bangkok, it was the time that I was quite distant
from gardening since I had to live in a dorm which only had small space. My passion for planting trees is unwavering but I
still have to learn more about methods and techniques of gardening.
The turning point that gave me an opportunity to learn gardening in more detail was from the floristry jobs I did before.
I went to join a collaboration with Sakchai Guy in floristry and gardening. The jobs covered both floristry and gardening works.
One of the best jobs that my team and I did was the gardening of Belgium Garden at the Royal Flora (2006) in Chiang Mai. At that
time, we won the "excellent" gardening award.
JY: Currently, which do you work at most, gardening or
PP: I don't have much chance to do gardening since my sole
focus right now is more on the floristry. To be honest, gardening is considerably tougher than arranging flowers and I feel that
there are a lot of improvements for me to be done in order to be proficient in this career.
Actually, I tried to practice gardening seriously with the garden at my house in Ranong Province when I was very bored with the
hectic life in Bangkok. After I moved back to my house, I felt happier with planting trees and gardening at the same time. This
feeling disappeared during my stay in Bangkok.
My favorite style of planting flowers and gardening is the English garden, but I attempt to replicate and adapt it to be suitable to
the tropical climate in Thailand. I read many books and magazines from Thailand and abroad and search updated information by digital media from internet.
So you can see that I am happy with my life right now. I love both floristry and gardening equally. I always wonder how they
can be used together nicely. At first, we plant some trees and flowers in the garden and then we can use these flowers for
flower arrangement in any forms we can think of, depending on our imagination.