Count Your Blessings!

With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

Count Your Blessings!
Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
Count Your Life With Smiles And Not The Tears That Roll.
..... Author unknown.

Knowing me, Knowing you..... Aha.....!

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Malaysian Flora USDA Zone 11
Welcome to our exotic world of everlasting summers and tropical rainforests!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tibouchina Urvilleana - A Pleasant Surprise

Botanical name: Tibouchina urvilleana
Common name: Princess Flower, Glory Bush, Purple Glory Bush
Family: Melastomataceae (melastoma or meadow beauty Family)
Origin: Brazil

Malay name: Senduduk Baldu

This is my glory bush or princess flower. The flowers are in brilliant shades of blusih purple. Stems are slender while the leaves are simple, feathery and velvety green. I am growing this plant in a container but it can be grown as an ornamental tree or shrub. I also saw this plant at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama where it is grown on the ground using granulated horticultural carbon soil. It is about 5ft tall.

The Pleasant Surprise

When I purchased this plant at a small little nursery at Sungei Buloh, the lady told me that it was senduduk (Melastoma malabathricum). I was looking for a senduduk plant then. She sold the seedling to me for only RM 5.00 (USD 1.30). Somehow, I felt a little bit strange that this flower is slightly different from the wild senduduks that we used to see in the kampungs (villages). Anyway, I took it home, nurture it, treated it like a senduduk and expected medicinal properties from this plant.

When I visited The Secret Garden recently, I found a plant that looked exactly like the one I am having, flowers, stems and leaves. But it was labeled as Tibouchina urvilleana aka glory bush, native to Brazil! So, I made enquiries and did some research. I also took a photo of the flower at The Secret Garden and compared it with mine at home. Finally I found that my plant is indeed glory bush and not senduduk. So this is 'A Pleasant Surprise' to me. This plant is inexpensive and it has not stopped blooming since that day I first bought it. For the price of a wild flower, I got a glamorous princess.

This is my entry for Blooming Friday Week 5. The theme today is A Pleasant Surprise. My grateful thanks to Katarina at Roses and Stuff for hosting Blooming Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, click here.

This is also my entry for Fertilizer Friday. My grateful thanks to Tootsie at Tootsie Time for hosting Fertilizer Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, visit

This is also my entry for Today's Flowers #64. My grateful thanks to the TF folks: Santilli, Denise, Pupo and Valkyrien for hosting Today's Flowers. To participate or view other floral displays around the world, click here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Comments and Contests

vanda orchid


I was extremely shocked when I received a message from LynnS of Woodridge on my Blotanical plot that she was unable to leave a comment on my posts! LynnS, thank you so much for sounding the alarm! Oh dear, oh dear. I wonder how many others have encountered the same problem with my blog?

I did a check and found that indeed all the comments came from users with Blogger IDs only. How come no comments from wordpress, or other OpenID users??? In fact I have already programmed my comment settings to enable ‘Registered Users-includes OpenID’ to comment. I thought it means that people with Wordpress and any OpenID can comment. When I ‘tested’ it, I found out that I myself can’t even comment on my own post under OpenID! What is happening?????

So now I have enabled my comments settings to the 1st option i.e. to allow ‘Anyone-includes Anonymous Users’ to comment. Please inform me via email ( or message on my blotanical plot if you are still unable to make any comments on my post. I am not sure whether I have solved my problem. I prefer that people do not comment under 'Anonymous Users' because I do not know who they are and cannot visit them back.

Is there a better way to deal with this?


Our Federal Territories Ministry has launched a Blog for FT Contest which runs from October 5, 2009 to January 5, 2010. The aim of the contest is to promote Malaysia’s Federal Territories (FT) of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan. Please click on the banner above to read more.

This contest is divided into 4 categories:

a) Malaysian Public - Malaysian citizens
b) Malaysian Junior – Malaysian citizens below the age of 18 as at December 31, 2009
c) Malaysian Media
d) International – Non Malaysian citizens

Prizes are very attractive, e.g. Peugeot car, Blackberry, Macbook, Dell studio hybrid and airtickets.

Participants are encouraged to blog about topics such as the heroes of the FT, the lives of the ordinary people and the city’s history as reported from the bloggers personal point of view. For further information please click on the banner on the my sidebar.

My message to my fellow Malaysian blogger friends:
Bangchik, Stephanie, James Missier, FJL, Blossom, Jacqueline of JaycJayc and Rainfield. What are you waiting for? Lets go for it and support each other all the way! Entries must be in Malay or English.

Prices are Peugeot car, Blackberry, MacBook, Dell Studio Hybrid.

My message to fellow International blogger friends :
If you have something to write about KL, Labuan or Putrajaya, you can enter the contest too. Otherwise, do support and vote for us. It is very easy. When you see the thumbs-up sign, just click on it and you will be directed to voting site. Just a simple click on the selected entry and it is done. See, so simple!

Prices are flight tickets, 5-star hotel stay and Dell Studio Hybrid

My entry:
I have decided to play along for the fun of it all. I have not done any post under My Nice Garden blog yet but I have already started one on my Klang City Daily Photo blog. This is the blog I post a picture a day about Klang in particular and Malaysia in general. Do visit when you have time. It'll be great if you can vote for me.

My first post is Petaling Street and Kuala Lumpur Chinatown.

To vote, just click the box below. It is very easy. Voters don't have to key in any details. They just go click, click, click ........

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Orchids

Photographs taken by Autumn Belle at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama
Grateful thanks to Dr. Francis Ng of The Secret Garden of 1-Utama

To view other WW posts or to participate, please click here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Petraeovitex wolfei - The Nong Nooch Vine

Botanical Name: Petraeovitex wolfei
Synonym: Petraeovitex bambusetorum
Origin: Malaysia
Family: Lamiaceae
Common name: Wolfe's Vine or Nong Nooch Vine

Scientific name structure:
a) petraea/petraeus = rock-loving
b) vieo = to plait, tie up or twine
c) bambusa = bamboo-like
d) toreo = to bore through or pierce

Common name:
Nong Nooch Vine comes from the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden in Pattaya, Thailand.

The blooms consists of bright yellow bracts with creamy white flowers.

It is an amazing climber and grows vigorously. The blooms form on the tips of its vining stems and cascade down 2ft or more in length.

The blooms form a pendulous infloresence that opens for many weeks. A bloom cycle may last up to 6 months. Foliage is dense and dark green in colour, quite similar to those of the clerodendrums.

It is a free flowering vigorous climber which is suitable for a fencing or trained on a pole, hoop, trelis or pergola. Also suitable for containers and hanging baskets.

This recent introduction into the horticultural world was named after Dr. Eric Wolfe who discovered the plant in Kedah and presented it to Mr. J.W. Ewart, the Assistant Curator at the Singapore Botanical Gardens in 1938. Dr. EDP Wolf was the Deputy Director of Medical Services of The Federation of Malaya. This climber was first recorded in the states of Kedah and Terengganu in Peninsular Malaysia.

In Malaysia, we can quite easily find it at our local nurseries.

Have you see this plant before?
Are you growing it in your climate zone?

My sources of reference :
1. Newsletter of The Singapore Botanic Gardens, Volume 24, July 2005 ISSN 12-1688
2. has featured it as a rare plant and they also have the seedlings for sale.

Photographs taken by Autumn Belle at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama
My grateful thanks to Dr. Francis Ng, The Secret Garden of 1-Utama

This post is my entry for Mellow Yellow Monday # 41. My grateful thanks to Drowsey Monkey for hosting this fun site. To participate or to view other MYM posts around the world, please click here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Hike Up the Perak Cave Temple - Part 3 of 3

What do The Kentucky Bluegrass of US, Guilin & The Stone Forest of China, The Burren of Ireland, Minerve of France, Phang Nga Bay of Thailand, Halong Bay of Vietnam and the Perak Caves of Malaysia have in common?

The answer is the unique and picturesque karst topography landforms, characterised by limestone hills, rough uneven pavements, beautiful carverns, stalactites and stalagmites.

You would have heard about the environmental friendly vertical garden or sky farm concept for modern highrise buildings that was invented by Patrick Blanc. We too have a natural vertical rainforest jungle right here in Malaysia.

In this final episode of my trip to Perak Cave Temple, we are going on a hike up to the peak of this limestone hill. Can you see the sun shining through the trees high up above ? Yes! That's the place. There's a garden up there, you know. And so, our adventure begins here.......

“A Hike Up The Perak Cave Temple - Part 3 of 3”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on October 24th, 2009.

This is where I started my journey up. There are about 500 steps to climb. After dropping a small donation into a box provided nearby and saying my prayers, I began my journey with my dear trusted lifeguard and protector. Nope, I didn't use any ropes, hooks or any other kind of climbing gear. My equipment were my own hands and feet and my camera.

Oh, yes, do make sure that your camera has enough battery power. This is speaking from the experience of an absent minded fella like me. On the safe side, I brought along 2 cameras. What I didn't expect was that my new camera, an Olympus FE-4000 was running out of battery power just as I reached the top and my antique Olympus Zoom 3000 was completely conked out even before I started.

This is the way up. The stairs may be slippery and wet while the walls are cold. Afterall this is a limestone cave, so you may find water dripping from the ceiling at certain points. It is quite dark inside here but you will feel a sense of calmness around you.

Halfway up I saw these inscriptions in red.

There's another one here. Can you see the steep stairway on the left? Those are the steps I need to take. It is brighter here as more sunlight can filter through the opening from above.

Another piece of calligraphy here. Can somebody please help me read the words and meanings?

I turned back and looked down just to get the 'fear factor' feeling and rush of adrenalin. I like this feeling, so I took a picture of the rocks below.

Looking up, I saw this staircase, the steepness was about 60 degrees, I guess. Wow! I could see the sky and green trees above. This looked like a stairway to heaven. So, up I go. Luckily the passage was quite narrow, just enough for one person at a time. I could hold on to the 2 side walls beside me. The walls were quite rough and perfect for holding on to with my bare hands. What would happen if someone were coming from the opposite direction? I don't have to crack my head over this because during that date and time, the whole place up here belongs to me and hubby. If anything happens, just scream your lungs out or call the fire brigade for rescue. Ah yes, this reminds me of my favourite childhood TV series called Rescue 51 starring Randolf Mantooth.

Coming out from the dark cavern into this open area is like entering into a different world. I felt like I have just discovered a secret passage that leads to a private garden. So I scaned around the area to see if there was an eccentric spiritual guru deep in meditation or a wizard/witch testing out his/her magical spells. No luck. However, there is a lot of greenery here with big trees and thick undergrowths. I can see a pavillion further up. That's where I shall take a rest. My fitness level is not up to par and by now I was panting and sweating. Guess what? I forgot to bring along a bottle of drinking water!

Oh, what a welcome sight! A beautiful scene and a good place to rest. Can you see the vertical hill on the left and the steep downward slope towards my right? Looking down from here, I could see the rows and rows of houses that looked like little match boxes in the distance below. I was also wondering how a big tree could grow securely on such a steep slope.

It was a nice feeling, sitting there and enjoying the cool fresh morning air. The sourroundings was calm and quiet. In front of me here is a piece of calligraphy to enjoy. I know this word. It means 'Buddha'.

There are a lot of these succulents with pretty pink flowers growing along the slopes. Can you see the red insect with a black bottom resting on the Zebrina pendula (Wandering Jew) flower? This picture is quite blurr because my camera was overworked.

Hey, I know you. You are the red leafhopper, bothrogonia ferruginea! I bet you must be enjoying yourself living here, with no naughy little fellas to catch you and boil you just for fun. Or are you a reincarnation of a departed sage? Or maybe a witch/wizard who is experimenting with transfiguration techniques?

After my first and second stop, I climbed some more steps before I finally reached this rest area. Here are more words written on the pillars and roof. It was nice, sitting here. I could enjoy the cool and tranquil surroundings. I even began to imagine hermits and sages climbing up here to meditate. Do artists come here to get inspiration for writing poetry and painting beautiful pieces of art?

I spent some time at the peak enjoying the panorama of Ipoh city. Look at the faraway blue mountains covered with clouds and mists. I have this nice feeling of being on top of the world, above everyone else. The Carpenters' song is playing in my head now..., the song about being on top of the world...

Ipoh city is situated in the Kinta Valley, sandwiched between the Main Titiwangsa and Kledang mountain ranges. As I looked at the beautiful scenery in front of me, I could feel a 'pleasing sense of happiness'. Is that why some people find it so fulfilling to hike up the tallest mountains and bask in the glory or calmness?

But then, as I look more closely, I could see the remnants of hills chopped and blasted bare by quarrying and industrilization. A big stretch of Ipoh's limestone hills has disappeared and replaced with factories and housing estates. Some hills are left standing bare, wounded and at different stages of destruction.

Is this what we want? Why can't we preserve the beauty of the blue mountains for our future generations to enjoy. If we do not take care of Mother Nature, one day she will be angry with us. We all know how great her fury can be.

I remember a novel I read a very long time ago. It was about Heidi and her grandfather Peter living in a village near the Swiss Alps. For days, I would spend my time with Heidi, living in that beautiful little remote village in Europe. I could imagine how beautiful life can be living there and loving the mountains. And yes, there is also Julie Andrews and her Sound of Music. During the show, I enjoyed seeing the beautiful mountain scenes as she sang "the hills are alive with the sound of music..." I truly do not want the beautiful mountains and hills of Kinta Valley to disappear into oblivion.

While I was cracking my head silly pondering over these issues, I saw a butterfly fluttering around me and landing on a plant in front. It was a beautiful black and white butterfly.

With my last remaining battery power, I snapped this photo. Then it was time to go back.

By now I was starting to get worried over the descend down the hill. It was scary looking down the very steep slope. Luckily the climb down was smooth and easy. What I noticed was that I had not seen any bats during my whole visit to the Perak Caves.

Something to ponder
Due to recent cases of rock falls , mudslides, landslides around the limestone belt, many people are apprehensive about visiting caves. The recent earthquakes in neighbouring lands made it worse. Maybe I was foolish as to endanger myself and my beloved, by being stubborn and insisting on going up to the peak. What would become of our dependents if something bad were to happen to both of us, the sole breadwinners of the whole family. At that moment, I just felt that I need to go up there to have a look and to take pictures to keep for rememberance.

I wish to add that currently there is a Malaysian Karst Society based in Ipoh which is a non-profit NGO formed to conserve karst areas in Malaysia. Hopefully, they will succeed in getting some headway. But then, will Perak Caves will be included in their list?

As for me, I may not be brave enough to make the hike up to the peak again, considering the safety issues involved. However, I will certainly visit the Perak Caves again because there are still many other things to do and see.

Do you think this place is worth a visit?
Do you think it is worth saving?

This is my entry for Scenic Sunday #67. To participate or view other pictures from around the world, please click here.

This is my also entry for My World Tuesday Season 2 Episode 3, a meme, strictly non-profit, where we have fun by showing you our world. My special thanks to the MyWorld team: Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy, Louise and Sylvia. See how others view their world or to participate, click here.

Post publication updates:
1. My grateful thanks to Mr Rajesh CTR from India for adding my link to his post titled "Perak Tong Temple" in his Hill Temples blog which is about temples around the world.
2. According to our local English daily, The Star report on 23 Jan 2010, titled "Ipoh Attraction Back in Favour", it is heartening to note that this temple is once again receiving many visitors and tourists.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Okra, My Ladies Fingers

Okra is a member of the hibiscus family.
Botanical name: Abelmoschus esculentus
Common Names: okra, ladies finger, bendi, bhindi, gumbo
Family: Malvaceae (mallow Family)

I am growing okra from seeds in seed packets that I purchased at the supermarket here. The seeds germinated quite fast, in 1 to 2 days time. Almost all of them did and there were very little wastage.

Look! There are two babies here. One of them is already shedding off its outer coat now.

One by one, they awaken to the warmth of the morning sun. I think the cutest seedling is the one with 2 tiny shoots opened wide.

These little plants grow fast. Before long flower buds started to appear.

When the buds are very small, I find it difficult to differentiate the buds from the pods. When the buds mature to reveal cream yellow petals, it is easy to tell them apart.

Now, a flower has opened fully. The petals are cream yellow and dark purple at the base. The stigma is also dark purple.

This is the side view of my latest vegetable model. Beautiful, isn't it?

I like the shape of their leaves.

Now, finally I am rewarded with some okras. When cut, the cross-section of okra fruits has a symmetrical pentagon design, hence it can be used to make pretty prints for cards and handicraft works.

This is my first harvest. Yes, only 2 okras!

Here are some ways that I can cook okras:
a) blanched, boiled, steamed
b) meat and fish curry
c) assam fish/fish head
d) vegetarian curry
e) stir fried with sambal belacan (chilly shrimp paste)
f) stuffed with fish paste - we call it 'yong tow foo'

Do you have other ways of cooking okras?
I have still not perfected the method of removing the slime when cooking okras. How do you reduce okra slime effectively?

This is my entry for Blooming Friday Week 4. The theme today is seeds and infructescences. My grateful thanks to Katarina at Roses and Stuff for hosting Blooming Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, click here.

This is my first entry for Fertilizer Friday. My grateful thanks to Tootsie at Tootsie Time for hosting Fertilizer Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, visit here.

This is also my entry for Today's Flowers #63. My grateful thanks to the TF folks: Santilli, Denise, Pupo and Valkyrien for hosting Today's Flowers. To participate or view other floral displays around the world, click here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Clock Vine Tunbergia Grandiflora

Botanical name: Thunbergia grandiflora
Common: Bengal clock vine, clock vine, sky flower
Origin: India
Photos taken by Autumn Belle at The Secret Garden 1-U
Grateful thanks to: Dr. Francis Ng.

To view other WW posts or to participate, please click here.


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