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
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day Reading Project Blog Meme 2011

As a tribute to Earth Day this year which falls on April 22nd, 2011 (also Good Friday), The Sage Butterfly in her Earth Day Reading Project - Blog Meme post has invited me to participate. The rules as detailed in her website are as follows:

Create a new blog post and...

1. Link back to the person who invited/tagged you, and link back to this post.

2. List at least three books that inspired you to perform any sustainable living act or inspired you to live green, and then tell us why they inspired you. These books do not have to be about green living. Nonfiction and fiction apply.

3. Select at least three other blogs to invite/tag for the project and post a link to them. Let each of the invitees know they have been tagged by emailing them or posting a comment on their blog and linking them back to this post to get the rules.

4. Let the person who tagged you know when you have published your Earth Day Reading Project post.

5. All posts must be completed by midnight EDT April 23, 2011. If you are invited/tagged on April 23, 2011, then skip Rule #3 above. If you want, go ahead and do a shout-out to some blogs.

This project is a great way to celebrate Earth Day, share something different with your readers, and promote your blog. I will be following the posts and look forward to reading all of them.

Note: If, for any reason, you do not want to participate, email or post a comment back to the one who invited/tagged you politely declining the invitation. That blogger can, then, invite someone else.


1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

It is actually a children's classic published in 1911 but I only heard about and read this book last year in 2010. Printed on recycled paper, it had cost me RM 8.50 (USD 2.82). Such a small investment but the lessons learnt are invaluable. After reading the book, I also watched the movie.

Written by a distinguished author who loved gardening, it is about a silent healing garden. A neglected and lonely little rich girl turned from a spoilt brat into a happy lass who in turn inspired and brought happiness to those people around her. The people who's lives change for the better were her uncle and her cousin, a bedridden and sickly young man who soon changed to a healthy, jovial kid after working out and getting lots of sunshine and fresh air while spending time on their secret garden project. I could feel their happiness and I watched in awe as the garden slowly transformed their lives. As I turned the pages, I read about a garden neglected upon a wife cum mother's passing, the chanced discovery and a shared secret. I waited eagerly as they worked through spring and I delighted in their joy when the garden matured into full bloom upon the first signs of summer. Nature is soothingly beautiful and it heals. A garden is not only about foliage and flowers. There is also the moon and sun with their energy rays, the whispering winds, cool breezes and silvery clouds.  We must not forget the creatures that live within.

We can create our paradise on earth in our little living space. We can be happy by being friends with the birds, bugs, bees and butterflies. As we make the concious effort to live in harmony with nature, we can learn to accept the 'ugly' creatures and critters that is so much a part of the planet Earth we share. So, we can choose not to use the 'weapons of mass destruction' that eliminate all the bugs which is food for the beneficial predators. We can choose to create beautiful little gardens in our homes over putting cement and concrete over whatever land we have. We can spend quality time in the garden and reduce our spending sprees at shopping centres buying things we don't really need.

“Earth Day Reading Project Blog Meme”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on April 21st, 2011.

2. 1,001 Gardening Secrets The Experts Never Tell You

I bought this book when I started gardening (seriously) in 2004. This is the book that tells me to feed my roses with banana peels, scare cats out of my yard with coffee grounds and orange rinds and keep cut flowers beautiful with sugar and vinegar. Some of the many practical tips offered include:
  • How to plant, prune, weed and propagate plants
  • How to feed plants to get more blooms and fruits
  • Weather and water wise gardening
  • How to get rid of pests the eco-friendly way
  • How to improve the soil
  • How to use garden tools
Investment amount = RM 34.90 = USD 11.57

3. Tropical Horticulture and Gardening

picture courtesy of MPH Bookstore

I used to lament that almost all the books available in the bookstores are about temperate plants. I didn't know almost all the names of the plants that I grow and those that City Hall grows here. This was very frustrating for me. Information sourced from the internet talked about overwintering and blooming in spring and summer for tropical plants but I wanted notes about the common native and indigeneous plants that are found abundantly in our tropical, equatorial country. A fairy waved its magic wand and I got the hard copy edition of this book in 2010. It is loaded with 360 pages of valuable information about all the plants I wanted to know about, i.e. the plants of Malaysia and the tropical rainforest.

This book 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.

I strongly believe that knowing the characteristics of each species of plant that we are growing or intent to grow will help us optimise our gardening resources, e.g. conservation of water, maximization of sun and shade. We also cut down on fertilizers and pest control when we grow native plants and other plants that are suited to our climatic conditions. Most of the plants displayed at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama can be found in this book.

The latest soft cover version is now available at MPH outlets at the price of RM 89.90. For details, click on MPH's website here. The listed price for the hard cover version at the Academy of Sciences website is RM 260.00.
More about the author:
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. The press article is here.

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.

Now I would like to invite the following blogger friends from Southeast Asia to join us in the Earth Day Reading Project. They are:
1. Andrea of Andrea in This Lifetime blog (Philippines)
2. JC of My Sunny Happy Garden (Malaysia)
3. Rosie of My Garden Haven blog (Malaysia)

This section (extract from the book 1001 Gardening Secrets The Experts Never Tell You)  is information for Kitchen Flavours of My Little Potted Garden blog to deal with some persistent cat problems (her post here)

Happy Earth Day and may you have a blessed Good Friday!


  1. Excellent post! When I began this blog meme, I thought it would be a great way to celebrate Earth Day and encourage people to think about it new ways. Unexpectedly, I have found some great reads to add to my collection of green and gardening books. I am very interested in the 1001 Gardening Secrets because it seems to have info to add to my list of organic gardening methods. Thank you so much for participating and Happy Earth Day!

  2. Love the Secret Garden. I've never heard of 1001 Gardening Secrets. Will definitely have to check that one out!

  3. I think I might have to check this 1001 Gardening secrets out too! Sounds like fun.

  4. Some words stared at me. Coffee & orange for the cats!!! Kitchen flavours would like to read that. I haven' read any of these books. My coffee suggestion to her was just a trial and error thing. I noticed my dogs stopped digging the bed after I applied the used coffee ground. But I add some every now and then, just in case the smell wears off.

    Great sharing!

  5. Good colelction of books!
    Gardening secrect book really sounds interesting!
    Happy gardening!

  6. Thanks for the book recommendations. I'm in the process of thinking of books to mention. I love those "secrets of gardening" kinds of ideas. Rodale has quite a selection, too.

  7. Hi Autumn Belle,
    Great post! Thank you for info on the cats! This is definitely a helpful and informative read! One did advise me on the orange peel and coffee grounds. I have scattered the orange peel but it has been raining everyday! Will have to add on more, have not tried with the coffee grounds yet, intend to as soon as I can get some from the coffee shop! I was laughing at the water gun! Will be adding some vinegar right after this! Having some marigolds around sounds very pretty, will look into this. This is a very interesting book, MPH is having a sale right now from 21st to 24th April, will look out for this book. Thank you so much, Autumn Belle, I really appreciate your help and wonderful thoughts into posting these info. Thank you!

  8. Thank you Autumn Belle for the invite, this is very interesting! I would have continued this chain if only i am in my personal niche in the city, however i am in the province and not really able to continue the chain. If only i am there, i can also take the photos of my books, now i dont even remember the complete author's name and that is bad if i will publish this. I will just join in the future, if ever there will still be one. Again thank you and i'm sorry! Happy Easter to you and your readers.

  9. I've been meaning to read The Secret Garden for years, but never have gotten around to it. I will now!

    I'm not a big fan of the books that offer collections of tips for the garden. Although many of them are fine, a lot of them aren't thought through and have other drawbacks.

  10. I have read only one of these books. I read the secret garden when I was an adult, not a child. I loved the whole idea of having a good attitude to affect one's whole life.
    Good post!
    Happy Earth day!

  11. Autumn great Secret Garden but never heard of the 1001 Gardening Secrets...Happy Earth Day

  12. Shall look up Secret Garden in a while... Happy Earth Day!

  13. HI Autumn, The secret Garden is one of my favourite books too. Happy Earth Day.

  14. Hi Autumn Belle, I love your description of 'The Secret Garden'. I've been reading that since I was a child and I've read it to both my daughters. I found it inspiring too, but I love your description of it.

  15. Happy Earth Day and Happy Easter!

    What a timely post! I just got back from a long weekend in the province to find out that stray cats have been digging into my plants again.

    I was spending the early part of this evening looking for ways to keep them away and all I had to do was blog crawl to find yours complete with everything I need to help. I will also make it a point to visit Kitchen Flavours to commiserate. Misery loves company, I guess. Thanks Autumn Belle!

  16. So thoughtful of you to scan the pages about how to deal with cat problem for Kitchen Flavours. I enjoy reading too. Nice post, Autumn Belle!

  17. I like that you include The Secret Garden. I bet that was the beginning of it for many of us!

  18. I remember you commented on my Costus post. I would like to asked you on Costus. I found some small one emerging from the stalk. Should i just cut them out or i have to cut the old stalk together to plant?

  19. Ha ha.....find those tips on how to get cats away from plants helpful!! Many would love to learn this.

    Like you, I always lament about the lack of information about our tropical gardens and plants. Thanks for sharing that book with us here.

    Let's together work on keeping our Earth happy and sustainable for us as long as possible.



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