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.....!

Notice Board

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

Santa is in Kuala Lumpur shopping at KLCC


Santa's sleigh is parked right in front Suria KLCC but there is only one elf here.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the rest of the reindeers are here too.
The reindeers are facing the KLCC Park entrance.

But where is Santa and his elves?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Healthy Happy Herbs: A Beginner's Guide to Herbs and Herb Gardening

1. Rosemary

Today I have a Lucky Draw Contest which is a FREE eBook giveaway to one of my lucky worldwide readers. Please go to the bottom of the post to find out more about this Christmas present.
Update: The winner has been selected, please go to my next post to find out more.

The pictures will guide you through some of the herbs I can grow in Malaysia, such as Rosemary, Lavender, Mint, Sweet Basil, Sage, Stevia, Common Rue, Tarragon, Dill, Parsley, Oregano and Thyme.

Tips On How To Care For Your Organic Home Herb Garden 

There are many benefits to cultivating an organic home herb garden. Going organic means you avoid using chemicals that can harm you, your plant, and the environment. Using organic products also help keep your plants healthier and improve the quality of your soil over time. Avoiding chemicals is specially important if you intend to use your herbs for cooking. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fertilizers for my DIY Garden in Malaysia

1.Vermiculite, Organic Potting Mix, Burnt Soil.

I am a quick results-oriented and cost-conscious gardener. But you can also call me lazy and stingy! I use two basic types of soil for gardening, a must-have in my garden and they are the burnt soil and organic potting mix.

Why the burnt soil?
Burnt soil is cheap in Malaysia. It cost about RM 2.00 or less (used to be RM 1.50 only). It is made from mainly clay soil burnt over a slow fire for a few days. As a result, this sterilized soil is porous and friable which leads to good drainage and aeration.

Why organic potting mix?
This is a pre-mix soil suitable for garden use, blended according to the correct proportions by experts, so I don't have to crack my head learning the 'secret recipe'. It is sold as black soil or "tanah hitam" in Malaysia.

Soil Mix
So when I prepare the soil medium for planting, I will mix the burnt soil and potting mix according to different formulas e.g. 2:1, 1:2, 1:1 or even 0:1 depending on the requirements of the particular plant I am potting. I also add in some fertilizers, compost and sometimes vermiculite. If I am germinating some seeds, I'll use only potting mix.

What types of fertilizers should I use for my home garden in the city?
Like Julie Andrew's song in The Sound of Music, "When we learn we begin with ABC, when we sing we begin with Do-Re-Me". Hence when we fertilize, we begin with N-P-K!

I am always experimenting with various types and brands of fertilizers for my home garden in Malaysia. Some examples of fertilizers I have tried are listed further down in the post.

For gardeners who wish to learn more about DIY gardening, do join me at My Nice Garden Chat, a facebook group dedicated for gardeners and gardening. The link is here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Eugenia oleina Tree - Syzygium myrtifolium

Syzygium myrtifolium is a common tree we see planted along many public roads in Malaysia. It is regularly pruned to bring out the most striking feature, its colourful foliage. Eugenia trees are suitable as topiaries as they can be shaped into a boxed or compact form. The leaf shoots are orange-red and they change colour to yellow, pale green and then dark green as they mature.

Friday, October 12, 2012

How I grow sunflowers in Malaysia

My green heart sunflowers were started from seeds from Miruku's Garden. I have just harvested 4 flower heads of sunflowers, each giving me about 200 seeds which amounts to more than 800 seeds. 
  • This sunflower has a bright yellow outer petals and a green centre.
  • The flower head is about 10-15 cm diameter
  • The plant can grow to about 4-5 ft tall.
My grateful thanks to Miruku for this precious Gift. Now I wish to pass this on to other gardeners.

If there is anyone in Malaysia who wish to grow sunflowers from seed in your garden, I can send some to you by ordinary mail . These are my fresh home saved seeds. All you have to do is email me ( your postal address. 

I have already announced this on my Facebook page and the first batch of seeds had been mailed out.

Here's how I grow sunflowers from seeds:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Beautiful Garden at Seen Hock Yeen Temple in Chemor, Perak


I am pleasantly surprised by this hidden gem, a magnificient temple with majestic structures, intricately designed and crafted statues and a beautifully landscaped garden complete with lotus and koi ponds, artificial water-falls, rock formations, pagodas and summer pavilions. I visited this place in June 2011 but only get to write a blog post about it now.

The Seen Hock Yeen Temple is located off the Chemor-Sg Siput main road on 1.2 ha of former tin mining land in the town of Chemor, a sleepy hollow about 20 km north of Ipoh.

This temple is managed by a team of volunteers from Chemor town and nearby villages.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My DIY Home Garden in Malaysia - GBBD Sept 2012

Earlier, I have posted a Youtube video for my GBBD post. Here's my picture lineup for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day - GBBD Sept 2012.

Tell me which do you prefer - Youtube video or blog post of my pictures?

I didn't have much luck when I first started growing anthuriums.
They weren't growing well and they also didn't bear flowers.
I used to wonder why.

Youtube video of My DIY Home Garden in Sept 2012

What I have for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - GBBD September 2012 is a 2 min. Youtube video of 29 photos of flowers blooming in my home garden in Malaysia. Hope this method will reduce the loading time of the pictures in my blog post. Do give me your feedback whether you prefer the pictures to appear one-by-one in my blog post or to view in a Youtube video.

Meanwhile, do enjoy the visit!

In my lineup are the following plants:
  1. Anthurium
  2. Sunkist ixora
  3. Pentas - pink
  4. Pentas - red
  5. Medinilla asteroides
  6. Sweet basil
  7. Rose begonia
  8. Green heart sunflowers 
  9. Common Lime butterfly
  10. Ixora fruit berries
  11. Phaleria macrocarpa - Mahkota Dewa (Crown of god). 
  12. Cat's Whiskers with purple flowers
  13. Clitoria ternatea - White Butterfly Pea
  14. Cosmos caudatus - Ulam Raja (King's salad)
  15. Rose - very scented pink flowers
  16. Stevia flowers
  17. Desert Rose - Adenium 'Santa Claus'
  18. Grasshopper on my sunflower bud
  19. Impatiens balsamina - Garden Balsam with orange-red flowers
  20. Malvaviscus arboreus
  21. Mirabilis jalapa - 4 o'clock flower (yellow)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to grow turmeric from store-bought rhizomes

1. Fresh turmeric rhizomes
The edible part of turmeric are the leaves, rhizomes, flowers and inflorescences. The whole plant is aromatic. However, the long, thin roots visible in the picture above are not used in cooking.

Young turmeric rhizomes are light orange while matured ones are a darker orange in colour. Thinly sliced/finely grated fresh young rhizomes can be eaten raw as "ulam" (herbs and vegetables eaten raw, usually with rice and sambal belacan for health and beauty). It is an ingredient in "jamu" (traditional Malay herbal remedy) for beauty (anti-aging) and health after delivery.

To make turmeric powder, the rhizomes are boiled and dried before being pounded into powder form.

Turmeric rhizomes are grated/pounded/juiced and used in marinades and seasoning for meat dishes before roasting, grilling, frying or cooking. Turmeric is also used to flavour meat in kebabs and satay. For convenience many modern cooks have switched to using turmeric powder made from pounded dried turmeric rhizomes. But we believe that the secret to excellent taste lies in the freshness of the ingredients used. Frozen/refrigerated/preserved turmeric can never achieve the authentic taste of our Asian cuisine because the fresh aroma is missing.

 Long ago, before the invention of the refrigerator, turmeric used to season meat also helped as a natural preservative.

Turmeric impart a natural yellow colour to rice, glutinuous rice, meat, sauces and other dishes. So if you come to Asia and get hold of a packet of spice powder with turmeric as an ingredient, the yellow colour that stains you fingers and utensils may not be the toxin/poison you worry about. Turmeric stains are yellow and temporary, it can be washed off with a dishwasher.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to grow common ginger from store bought rhizomes

1. Common Ginger sprouts

I am growing common ginger (Zingiber officinale) from store bought rhizomes. I use old ginger, meaning matured ginger that has been stored for some time, hence store bought rhizomes will be just fine. Freshly dug out rhizomes do not sprout as readily.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How to grow galangal (Alpinia galanga) from store bought rhizomes

1. A hand of galangal rhizome

Galangal is used as a herb cum spice in Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. Galangal is an ingredient in chicken and fish curry dishes and also my favourite Hari Raya delicacy, the rendang. The Chinese call it "blue ginger" while in Malay, it is "galangal" or "lengkuas".

As it is readily available at any wet market in this region, we are never short of galangal. We also keep stock of galangal rhizomes in the refrigerator, ready to be used whenever the need arises.

Do you know that galangal can grow into a beautiful plant with showy foliage?
Even if you don't intent to harvest galangal for cooking, you can grow galangal plants just for their beautiful and cool-looking foliage. The whole plant is mildly aromatic. This is a cheap and low maintenance plant. Today I'll show you how to grow galangal from store-bought rhizomes.

This post is dedicated to Ash of Houris in the Garden blog. She's a new blogger, hence do visit her blog to give her your encouragement. Her enthusiasm and diligence in maintaining a little "garden by the window" has inspired me to blog on. Sometimes you can see and appreciate many things from a fresh perspective.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Garden Petunias - A Colourful Parade

I adore petunias for their lovely, lovely flowers. I have grown them and loved them a lot. Now I without their sweet presence because I have no more place to hang them! but, but, but ...

...  I still buy them whether intentionally or on impulse, especially during festive seasons to give an instant flash of colour to my front garden. I certainly will not hesitate to recommend them for my friends and readers who are busy decorating for Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (Eid ul-Fitr) this month.

The photos here are all taken at Floria 2011.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Egyptian Star Cluster - The Colourful, Pretty Pentas

1. Pentas lanceolata 'Light Purple'
I love pentas because I can select from a variety of different colours or have them all.
They brighten up my garden and the pretty little flowers attract butterflies and bees.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Putrajaya Floria 2012 - Bougainvillea Cultivars Part 2

12. Bougainvillea 'Apple Blossom'
Bougainvillea plants are easy to grow and maintain. Generally free of pests and diseases, they thrive best in our Equatorial climate where day and night are equal in length, hence they flower the whole year round. The flowers are in groups of 3 and quite inconspicuous. Their most attractive feature is the papery-thin but brightly coloured bracts that come in many shades.

You can also view my Youtube Video here.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Putrajaya Floria 2012 - Bougainvillea Cultivars Part 1

1. Bougainvillea x buttiana 'Poultonii'

Bougainvillea, the name itself conjures romance in the high seas .....

Friday, July 6, 2012

Putrajaya Floria 2012 - Garden Bazaar Part 2

My previous post was about ornamentals. This post is about herbs, fruits, accessories and other stuff. Visiting the Garden Bazaar had been a great learning and eye-opening experience for me.

Oh dear, I just noticed the strawberry pot in my picture. I should have bought it!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Putrajaya Floria 2012 - Garden Bazaar Part 1

Part of the fun of going to the Putrajaya Floria  2012 is the Garden Bazaar. I will always visit this section just before I go back. I often intent to window shop only but always ended up buying something!

Many growers and nursery owners set up stall here. Some of them are from other states, eg. Kuala Kangsar, Melaka, Penang and Johor. These nurseries are located in the outskirts and countryside. There is really a lot of choices and varieties of plants, including those we rarely see and can't get from our local nurseries. I'm sure they get their supply from these nurseries. Now's the time to be more adventurous.

This is fun! The plants look so fresh and healthy. You can find bougainvilleas, lantana, pentas, roses, vinca, angelonia, gerbera daisies, balloon flowers, gloxinias, verbena, big and brightly coloured hibiscus, bauhinia kockiana, ylang-ylang, rangoon creeper, ixora rose, rose begonia, Euphorbia milii, sunflowers, jasmines, gardenias, clerodendrums, ornamental bananas, ornamental pomegranate flowers, plumeria, cactuses, foliage plants, air plants, epiphytes, heliconias, bird of paradise flowers, pine trees, hyrangea (blue, purplish white, pink) and gingers ..... in poly bags and plastic pots/ceramic pots ready to give an instant lift to our home gardens. Hey, I even saw a visitor begged a vendor to sell off a pretty pink miniature rose plant together with the decorative container he used to promote his ceramic wares. He sold it for RM 35 and the customer was ecstatic!

Orchid sellers have a section of their own.

But I can't find the Epiphyllum oxypetalum (night blooming cereus / bunga bakawali)! Last year, I found a single plant but the asking price was RM 55. I didn't buy it. Now I am still regretting my decision because I have not found any nursery that has EO for sale :(

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Putrajaya Floria 2012 - Orchids and Caladiums

1. Phal. I-Hsin Dalmatian
Phalaenopsis I-Hsin Dalmatian

2. Caladium Cosmic Flare

Caladium Cosmic Flare

3. Onc. Green Valley Honey 'Sweet Lady'
Oncidium Green Valley Honey 'Sweet Lady'

Caladium Sweetheart

Phalaenopsis Dpts. 1-Hsin Waltz

6. Caladium Empress
Caladium Empress

7. Oncidium Btcm. Hwuluduen Chameleon
Oncidium Btcm. Hwuluduen Chameleon

8. Caladium The Joker
Caladium The Joker

9. Odontocidium Wildcat 

Odontocidium Wildcat

10. Phal. Baldan's Kaleidoscope
Phalaenopsis Baldan's Kaleidoscope

11. Phal Baldan's Kaleidoscope
The exhibitor has beautifully combined caladiums with orchids in a tropical garden theme.
Coloured foliage with exotic flowers!

12. Odontocidium Wildcat 'Rainbow'
Odontocidium Wildcat 'Rainbow'

Which one is your favourite?

“Floria 2012-Orchids and Caladiums”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on 3rd July 2012.

13. Top - Hanging oncidiums

Monday, July 2, 2012

Putrajaya Floria 2012 - The 1Malaysia International Night Floral Parade "Magic of the Night"

1. Night view of entrance to Floria 2012

This is the 5th year we are having the Putrajaya Flower and Garden Festival but I have never been to Floria at night. Anyway, there is always a first time!

To get to the venue, we had to park our car very far and walk a quite a distance. By the time the show ended, we were stuck in a terrible traffic jam that seemed to last for ages.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Floria 2012 - Highlights of Day 1 at Precinct 2 Putrajaya

The theme for this year's Floria 2012 - Putrajaya Flower & Garden Festival is "Bougainvillea, Enduring Beauty". The festival is held at the Waterfront, Precinct 2 in Putrajaya city from 30 June to 8 July 2012. The following are some of the highlights of Day 1.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award on My 3rd Blog Anniversary

1. My Pink Pentas flowers

June is my 3rd blog anniversary month, so I am extremely thrilled to receive The Versatile Blogger award from 3 fellow bloggers. It is indeed nice to read other bloggers' views about me.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Bidens pilosa - Spanish Needles in my home garden

I found this plant growing wild like a weed near the Seen Hock Yeen Temple in Chemor town in Perak state, Malaysia. I think this is a lovely wildflower. I have also seen this at the rooftop Secret Garden of 1-Utama (my first post about this plant here).

The plant and flowers are much bigger than those of the Coat Buttons (Tridax procumbrens), a common weed we often see growing wild by the roadside.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Turnera subulata (White Alder) - Wildflower of Malaysia

In Malaysia, Turnera subulata grows wild like a weed in open fields and sunny areas.
This native of Tropical America is very much at home in our equatorial climate.
The flowers open at about 8 O'clock in the morning and close before noon.

Some people plant it in their garden. It is also often planted in front of entrances to buildings and homes. I think it is better to plant it outside your homes because Turnera subulata attracts lots of wildlife. Just look at my pictures below. Bees may sting young children.

This is my entry for Wildflower Wednesday hosted by Clay and Limestone, link here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My DIY Home Garden in Malaysia - GBBD May 2012 & My 4 Baby Butterflies

1. Dendrobium Candy Stripe
Here's what I have for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - May 2012 from my DIY garden in Malaysia.

My Dendrobium Candy Stripe orchid (picture above) is blooming now. There are 6 flowers in a stalk. This is the first rebloom and from a new shoot produced at the base of the plant.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Creeping Wood Sorrel (Oxalis corniculata) - The Sleeping Beauty Weed in My Garden

Today's post is about an Oxalis (Wood Sorrel) which has yellow flowers and green leaves.  Please don't be fooled by the tiny, pretty flowers that look so delicate, demure and innocent. Actually it is a weed in my garden!

In my previous post, the plant is the Purple Shamrock; Oxalis regnelli 'Atropurpurea' aka Oxalis triangularis which has lovely pale lilac flowers and maroon-purple butterfly shaped leaves.

Purple Shamrock (Oxalis triangularis) is grown as an ornamental plant in my garden while Wood Sorrel (Oxalis corniculata) is the weed.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Purple Shamrock - Oxalis regnellii 'Atropurpurea' aka Oxalis triangularis

This is my Purple Shamrock plant.
I love the delicate pale lilac flowers and maroon-purple leaves.
If you ask the seller in Malaysia, they'll tell you that it is called the "Butterfly Plant".

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I wanted "Shirley Poppy" but it's surely Buttercups now!

These seedlings are grown from the seed packets that I bought at an orchid nursery.  
I've been keeping a close eye on this batch and with high expectations. 
I've been dreaming of the lovely poppy flowers popping out in your gardens in Spring...

I wanted this plant. According to the label, "Shirley Poppy" seeds will germinate 2-3 weeks time, reach a height of about 45-50cm and will be flowering in 50-60 days time. Flower colour is red. The temperature should be 25C with full sun. There are no details of the expiry date.

The 25C is a bit tricky because the daily temperatures in my climate average is about 30C now.

“I wanted "Shirley Poppy" but it's surely Buttercups now!”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on April 28th, 2012.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rearing and Breeding Lime Butterflies in the Home Garden in Malaysia

1. Adult Lime Butterfly

When I visited Penang Butterfly Farm some time ago, it was just for some hurried sightseeing and outdoor photography. However, I was quite amazed by the many species of beautiful, colourful native butterflies of my country, Malaysia. I have in fact learnt more about butterfly conservation, the nectar plants and host plants. There were  live specimens of butterflies at every stage of their life cycle. I see so many butterflies; some were perched on gorgeous flowers drinking nectar while others were romancing in mid-flight. I could observe butterflies mating and ovipositing but the most unforgetable experience was watching the adult butterflies emerging from their chrysalis right before my very eyes. The process of metamorphosis is very intriguing indeed. From a caterpillar buster, I have now become a NANNY to them, rearing, feeding and raising these creepy crawlies so that they can safely become the butterflies they are meant to be.

Here's how I do it in my home garden, the DIY way.....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Zinnia - Here today, gone tomorrow, ZZZ.....

1. Red Zinnia

It was a love at first sight when I saw these zinnias and so I purchased 3 polybags of them in different colors.
I have bright red zinnia.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The many faces of Wrightia religiosa - Part 2


In my previous post here, you have seen how Wrightia religiosa (wild water plum, water jasmine), a native plant of Malaysia and Thailand, has been lovingly and painstakingly sculptured into many styles of beautiful bonsai. Now, in this post I'm going to show you another side of our wondrous water jasmine.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wrightia religiosa Bonsai - Santalia, Melati, Jeliti, Anting Putri, Water Plum Jasmine

Wrightia religiosa or water plum jasmine is very popular among bonsai enthusiasts here in tropical Asia, particularly Malaysia and South East Asia because this fast-growing evergreen perennial is very easy to shape, bend and maintain. Best of all, it is ever-flowering and blooms profusely with a strong, wonderful fragrance. Bonsai experts can manipulate the blooming cycle to coincide with flower shows and exhibitions.

Here are some outstanding Wrightia religiosa bonsai specimens that were made into beautiful pieces of art. The photographs were taken during Floria 2010 and the exhibitors are members of Sanfong Bonsai & Art Garden.

There are more pictures of single and double flowers, seed pods here: "The many faces of Wrightia religiosa - Part 2"

My NST article dated 12 Nov 2011 about Wrightia religiosa is titled "Princess Earrings in the Garden", click here to read more.

Wrightia religiosa Bonsai - Santalia, Melati, Jeliti, Anting Putri, Water Plum Jasmine”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on March 26th, 2012.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dischidia pectinoides - Kangaroo Pocket, Ant Plant

I saw this strange plant while shopping for Chinese New Year plants. The ant plant (Dischidia pectinoides) is sold as an auspicious plant during the festive season. What's the symbolic meaning behind it? I hope someone can tell me.

At first I was hesitant to buy it because I worry that it will be difficult to care for. Moreover, I do not want it to turn into an ant's nest!

I have since discovered that it is actually quite easy to care for. The flowers bloom continuously.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My DIY Home Garden in Malaysia - GBBD March 2012

1. Native Plant - Red Ixora
Today, for Bloggers Bloom Day - March 2012, here are some blooming flowers from my DIY home garden in Malaysia.

First in the line-up is my teenage (more than 10 years old) Ixora plant, butterflies big and small love this plant.


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