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!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hibiscus schizopetalus

Scientific name: Hibiscus schizopetalus
Common name: Coral Hibiscus, Lantern Hibiscus
Family: Malvaceae
Origin: Unknown

Picture taken at the Hibiscus Garden, Kuala Lumpur

“Hibiscus schizopetalus”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on August 30th, 2010.

The Arbour walkway at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama.

This is my entry for The Hot, The Loud and The Proud #6 meme by Noel, of A Plant Fanatic Hawaii. To join and/or view other beautiful entries, click here.

This is also my entry for My World Tuesday, Season 2 Episode 47. To join and/or view other entries from around the world, please click here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Biodiversity and Conservation at KLCC Park

Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) is a major tourist attraction in Malaysia. The famous Petronas Twin Towers and Suria KLCC are both located here in its vicinity. Petronas Twin Towers was the world's tallest building from 1998-2004. It was featured in the 1999 Holywood Blockbuster movie Entrapment starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones. It was also the target for French “Spiderman” Robert Alain Philippe to scale their height of which he was fined RM 2,000 for trespass in September 2009.

Although I have been to KLCC (KL Convention Centre) and Suria KLCC many times, especially during SALE time, I have only discovered KLCC Park late last year. When I visited Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth, I remember lamenting how I wished our country has a beautiful park. Now, I realised how ignorant I had been in the past, as all this while we do have one. It was just that I didn't know.

KLCC Park is a beautiful landscaped garden designed by reknown Brazilian landscape architect, the late Mr Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994). It is reputed to be his last masterpiece. Roberto Burle Marx was a very talented master of gardens who wore many hats. He was painter, print maker, ecologist, naturalist, artist and musician. He is famed for imparting a sense of timelessness and perfection in his works.

A trip to KLCC Park begins with a walk down this 43 metre long elevated bridge (above). It is along this bridge that visitors get to enjoy some of the most splendid views of the magnificient Petronas Twin Towers and Suria KLCC. This is also the most popular spot among tourists for photo shoots.

KLCC Park is spread over 50 acres (20 hectares) of land. There is also a 1.3 km jogging track laid with EPDM around the park.

When the late Roberto Burle Marx designed the park, his intention was to "leave the world a little more sensitive and a little more educated to the importance of nature".

“Biodiversity and Conservation at KLCC Park”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on August 27th, 2010.

In the design and built-up of KLCC Park, key consideration was given to environmental factors such as conservation and biodiversity.

When the Selangor Turf Club was relocated to Sg Besi in the early 1990s, a total of about 23 of the mature and rare trees were saved and transplanted on the park. When KLCC Park was launched in 1998, there were about 1,900 indigeneous trees and 66 species of palms which had been carefully selected to encourage biodiversity and provide a haven for birds and local fauna.

Scientific name: Ficus nitida
Family: Moraceae
Distribution: Southeast Asia and India

This is the Indian Laurel Tree whose habitat is found in regions with warm moist conditions and plenty of light. The signage read as follows:
  • It is a small tree with a dense crown, erect branches and arial roots
  • It buttresses in its natural habitat
  • Fruits are small, produced in pairs from the axils of the leaves
  • Flowers are found inside the fruit
  • The young leaves are yellowish green and smooth
  • It is commonly used as an ornamental tree for street planting, as a hedge, shaped into topiary of various forms and as an indoor potted plant.

Scientific name: Ficus elastica
Family: Moraceae
Distribution: Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, India

Common name: Bunuh Seteruh, Nyatu, Indian Rubber Tree

  • It thrives in poor soil, epiphytes in nature, often on branches of other trees
  • It belongs to the 'strangling trees' group thriving on host tree
  • A largew spreading tree that grows up to 15m with long drooping branches and aerial roots developing from trunk and main branches
  • Fruits are smal and yellowish green
  • Flowers inside the fruits
  • It was a source of rubber before the era of Hevea braziliensis, the present rubber trees
  • The young leaves were eaten as salads in Indonesia
  • It is commonly used as an indoor plant

Scientific name: Dillenia excelsea
Family: Dilleniaceae
Distribution: Malaysia, Indonesia

Common name: Simpoh Ungu, Purple Simpuh
  • It's habitat is the lowland forest
  • A medium sized tree that grows up to 25m
  • The leaves are glossy green and margin slightly serrated
  • Flower buds are rose red, opening to bright yellow with purple stamens and pinkish style
  • The flower faces upwards
  • Fruits are waxy white and later split open with red seeds.

Scientific name: Cyrtostachys renda
Family: Palmae / Arecoideae
Distribution: Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands

Common name: Lipstick Palm, Pinang Raja, Sealing Wax Palm, Red Palm
  • It's habitat is the tropical peat swamp forest and river estuaries
  • It is an attractive clustered palm with slender stems that grows up to 10m with a scarlet crown shaft and leaf stalks
  • The flowers are small and green
  • The fruits are small, egg-shaped, green ripening to black
  • It is widely used for landscaping in parks, it is also a good container plant
  • The aborigines made blowpipe darts from the outer wood of the stem
  • Leaves of the palm were used together with other plants to ward-off earth demons when opening a new land clearing

The fruits of the indigeneous trees attract local and migratory birds. Coupled with a conducive green environment, it is hoped that this place will become an important link to the bird wildlife corridors of the region.

The following is a list of trees with proper labels at KLCC Park:
  1. Cassia Trees

  2. Purple Simpuh Tree (Dillenia excelsa)

  3. Indian Laurel Tree (Ficus nitida

  4. Butter Fruit Tree / Buah Salat / Buah Mentega (Diospyros blancoi)

  5. Elephant's Apple / Simpoh India Tree (Dillenia indica)

  6. Camphor / Kapur Tree (Dryobalanops aromatica)

  7. Rambutan Fruit Tree (Nephelium lappaceum) aka Tico Berry

  8. Indian Rubber Tree / Bunuh Seteruh / Nyatu (Ficus elastica)

  9. Orange Champaca / Chempaka Merah Tree (Michelia champaca)

  10. Ylang-Ylang / Kenaga Tree (Canaga odorata)

  11. Gebang / Ibas / Buri Palm (Corypha utan)

  12. Red Palm / Lipstick Palm / Sealing Wax Palm / Pinang Raja (Cyrtostachys renda)

  13. Jenaris / Tulang Daing Tree (Milletia atopurpurea)

  14. Mempari Tree (Pongamia pinnata)

* Click on the links to visit my post about this tree.

Walking around the park at certain areas, I saw different types of birds feeding on some fruits high up in the trees. Some are black or brown and some are quite colourful. I saw sunbirds, magpies, pigeons, sparrows, mynas and starlings. Some of the more colourful ones, I don't know their names. How I wish I had a DSLR camera to capture these beautiful birds.

I also notice that bald-headed mynas are getting more and more popular around cities here. Do you know what causes this phenomenon? I mean, do they get bald as a result of fighting among themselves or due to the polluted environment?

This view is taken from the Children's Pool area. This pair of dolphins and a whale sculpture is one of the ornamental water features of Lake Symphony which is programmed to feature water fountain displays following a Symphony Overture sequence at regular intervals.

The Lake Symphony fountains are scheduled to be on from 12 noon to 2:00pm and 6.00pm to 11.00pm on weekdays and from 10.00am till midnight on weekends and public holidays.

The park is equiped with various amenities such as shelters, benches, rest areas, drinking fountains and public toilets at convenient locations. There is also a Children's Playground next to the Children's Pool.

The Children's Pool opening hours are as follows:
Tuesday  to Fridays 10:00am to 7:30pm
Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays 10:00am to 9:30pm
It is closed for maintenance on Mondays if it is not a public or school holidays.

During school holidays, the pool is opened throughout the week.

You can find beautiful yellow cassia trees at the end of the elevated bridge and also at the children's pool.

The Children's Playground has been laid with EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Deine Modified) Rubber, a child-safe material. Hence, eating, drinking and smoking are strictly prohibited here.

This is a patch of Arachis pintoi which is a vigorous creeper with bright yellow flowers that bloom in the morning. This species is a popular ornamental ground cover for gardens here. In Malay, it is called 'pokok kacang kuning'.

Finally, I end my post here with another view of the Petronas Twin Towers in the background behind the Yellow Cassia trees of KLCC Park.

I would like to dedicate this post to Sihame from Belgium who visited Malaysia early this year. She wrote to me asking about the beautiful Lipstick Palms (Cyrtostachys renda) of KLCC Park.

Sihame, WELCOME TO MALAYSIA!    I hope you will visit my country again.
Welkom ! (Dutch), Bienvenu ! (French), Willkomen ! (German)

This is my entry for Fertilizer Friday, the link is here.
For Today's Flowers, the link is here.
For My World Tuesday, the link is here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hibiscus syriacus, The National Flower of South Korea

Scientific name: Hibiscus syriacus
Common name: Rose of Sharon, Korean Hibiscus, Rose of Althea
Family: Malvaceae
Native plant of: East Asia*
*Source: here and here.

It is the National Flower of South Korea
Korean name : mugunghwa (Hangul: 무궁화; Hanja: 無窮花).
The flower's symbolic significance stems from the Korean word mugung, which means "immortality".**
**Source: Wikipedia, link is here.

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 participate or view other Wordless Wednesday posts, please click here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Yellow Saraca thaipingensis Tree At KLCC Park

This is one of our gorgeous indigeneous trees that are preserved at the beautiful KLCC Park. It bears bright yellow flowers that appear intermitently on the trunk and larger branches. The flowers which turn from yellow to orange to red as they mature look like big cauliflowers. These 'cauliflowers' measure up to 17 inches. The tree is medium sized. It can grow to a height of 15-20 ft with a spread of 8-10ft.

“The Yellow Saraca Thaipingensis Tree At KLCC Park”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on August 19th, 2010.

Scientific name: Saraca cauliflora
Synonym: Saraca thaipingensis
Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Native to: Malaysia and Indonesia

Common names: Yellow Saraca, Yellow Ashoka, Handkerchief Tree
Malay name: Pokok Gapis or Gapis tree

Category: Evergreen tree

The signage at KLCC Park reads as follows:
Habitat: Found along forest streams, in damp but well-drained grounds.
The tree is from the Taiping town (in Perak state, Malaysia)
A spreading tree that grows up to 10m with a dense crown. It has large leaves.
Flowers are clustered, apricot-yellow, fragrant.
Seedpods are large, flat and dark-purplish red.
The timber is used for temporary light constructions, packing cases and wooden pallets.
The roots are used to make 'parang' (a Malaysian machete) handles.

This tree is grown for its beautiful foliage and flowers. The new leaves are pink or purplish in colour and they are produced in flushes, appearing soft and hanging limply from the branches, earning the name "Hankerchief Trees". Later the leaves will stiffen up and turn green within a week or so.

Grow in full sun to partial shade. Propagation is by seeds. Can be grown as an ornamental tree in gardens for its foliage and flowers.

I extremely delighted to receive a bounty of seeds sent by Wendy of Greenish Thumb blog. I was one of the lucky recipient of her First Blogiversary Giveaway. I am ecstatic and jumping with joy. Yay, yay yay! This is the first time I am receiving real seeds sent all the way from a foreign country, i.e. from Maryland, USA! Wow!

Today, I would like to dedicate this post to Wendy and I also have a Chinese legend to tell.

This picture was taken at the Art Gallery of Perak Cave Temple, Ipoh.
It is a hand painting by an artist and it depicts a fairy from heaven.

A Chinese Valentine's Day: A Late Summer's Tale
On Monday, August 16th, 2010 was the 7th day of the 7th month of the Lunar Calendar. Long ago, until the mid 20th century, we celebrated this 'Valentine' festival of romance between "The Cowherd And The Weaving Girl".

It is the story of a fairy princess from heaven, the grandaughter of the Heavenly Mother. She was Weaving Girl and the clouds in the sky are her handiwork. Bored with life in heaven, one day, she got into mischief and came down to earth with her 6 other sisters. She was the 7th and the youngest. In the events that followed, she was accidently left on Earth where she met a young and handsome cowherd called Niulang and both of them fell in love. They had a pair of kids, a girl and a boy but their happiness was shortlived. As it was against the rule for a Fairy Princess to marry an earthling, The Heavenly Mother was very angry when she found out and the pair of lovers were forcefully separated. Seeing the heartbroken Niulang, his ox began to talk and asked Niulang to slaughter it and put on its hide so that he could fly to heaven. When Niulang reached heaven, The Heavenly Mother was very angry to see him. She used her hairpin to scratch a wide river in the sky to separate the lovers. The river became The Milky Way with Weaving Girl on one side (the star Vega) and Niulang (the star Altair) taking care of their kids on the other side, forever separated. The magpies took pity on them and once a year, all the magpies in the world will gather together to form a bridge in heaven so that the lovers can be reunited again on this single night of the 7th day of the 7th lunar month.

You can find more details about this 2,000 year old legend by clicking this link: Wikipedia, Qixi Festival, (七夕节).

In the prayer ritual which my grandmother told me, ladies used makeup, flowers, fruits, sweet cakes and sewing/embroidery kits to pray to Weaving Girl, wishing to be blessed with beauty, excellent living skills and a good husband. Gentlemen used clothes, comb and wallet to pray to Niulang for good looks, job opportunities, money and a good wife.

At this age and time, this festival is no longer practised and almost forgotten in Malaysia but it is still celebrated in Taiwan, China and maybe Hong Kong.

We may see the story retold in movies and drama serials. In the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid, Jackie Chan's character attends this festival with his female friend and sees the story reenacted in a shadow play.

This is my entry for Fertilizer Friday. To visit other great FF posts, please visit here.
This is also my entry for Today's Flowers, please visit here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Agapanthus, Lily of the Nile - Wordless Wednesday

Scientific name: Agapanthus praecox
Common name: Lily of the Nile, Blue Lily, African Lily
Family: Agapanthaceae
Native of: South Africa

“My Agapanthus, Lily of the Nile - Wordless Wednesday”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on August 11th, 2010.

To participate or view other Wordless Wednesday posts, please click here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Coffee From The Rooftop

The Arabica Coffee plants are blooming from the rooftop of 1-Utama shopping complex now, probably after a rainy spell. A nice sweet fragrance fills the air. The flowers look and smell like jasmines. There are clusters of them along the length of the branches.

Have you ever seen a coffee flower?

At The Secret Garden of 1-Utama, there is a kitchen garden where fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, rice, tea and coffee plants are grown.

A row of healthy coffee plants.

"Coffee From The Rooftop”,a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on August 6th, 2010.

The leaves are dark green and oval shaped. Flower buds appear from the leaf bases and last for only a few days after which fruits develop in the form of green berries.

Scientific name: Coffee arabica
Common name: Arabica Coffee
Family: Rubiaceae
Origin: Ethiopia

The species is native to the mountains of Yemen in Saudi Arabia, hence its name. It is also indigeneous to Ethiopia and Sudan.

I had thought that coffee comes from beans in pods that hangs from trees. Now I know that coffee is produced from berries and coffee plants are shrubs and not trees. It is also a tropical plant that grows best in the cool highlands where temperature hover around 20C.

It takes about 7 months for the Arabica berries to reach the optimum level of ripeness. The berries change from green to yellow to light red and finally a glossy deep red as it ripens. The riped fruits are called "cherries".

It is interesting to know that my favourite drink comes from these beautiful cherries.

The Secret Garden of 1-Utama is my living encyclopedia of garden plants. Ever since the first day I stepped into the lift that took me to this wonderful place, I have learnt a lot about many different types of plants. Here is a garden where flowers bloom throughout the year in all colours of the rainbow; a place where magic comes to life. Everytime I visited, new flowers open and speak to me. Each live specimen tells a story that educates and enlightens me. Some have strange scientific names that I can't even pronounce properly while others have very ordinary names but unexpectedly gorgeous blooms. So many specimens, so much that I can learn from this mini 'botanic garden'.

Below is a picture I took recently of the extraordinary scientist, botanist, forester, plant explorer and walking dictionary that I had the privelege to meet. He has green fingers and the Midas touch in gardening where anything and everything he cultivates, turn into gorgeous blooms and luscious plants.

Once he remarked that Malaysia is an equatorial country with everlasting summers and no harsh winters, so we should be growing flowers and having gardens that bloom the whole year through. But many of us started with flowers and ended up growing only 'leaves'. How true!

I am greatly inspired by his passion and vision in gardening.

Dr. Francis S.P. Ng is the consultant botanist of The Secret Garden of 1-Utama. He has many years of experience in plant exploration and scientific research while attached to The Forest Research Institude of Malaysia (FRIM), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, and  the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor, Indonesia. Dr. Ng has an extensive knowledge of thousands of species of tropical plants in our region. Recently he was the recipient of the David Fairchild Award for botanical exploration 2009 which is a timely recognition for his contribution to plant conservation.

Dr. Ng writes a blog, "Tropical Gardening" which you can visit here. As he is still actively involved in consulting, lecturing and writing, the blog posts may be few and far between. The Secret Garden of 1-Utama which I often feature here in my blog is only one of the many projects he consults.

picture courtesy of MPH Bookstore

I just found out that Dr. Ng's latest book is now available in soft cover edition at MPH outlets. For details, click on MPH's website here. I have a copy of the hard cover edition with 360 pages and I find that it contains a lot of information about the plants of Malaysia and the tropical rainforest. It is fully illustrated with a pictorial guide to 1,000 types of ornamental plants. Certainly a great reference book to look up tropical plant names and profiles.

This is my entry for Fertilizer Friday. To view what others have for FF, click here.
This is also my entry for Today's Flowers # 105. Please visit here.


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