Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tropical rooftop garden reviewed

The Secret Garden of One Utama, situated on the roof of a seven-floor shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur and occupying one quarter of a hectare, has received rave reviews in the Malaysian press. It got one full page in the Star, one full page in Sin Chew News, and a half page in Guang Ming News. The New Straits Times feature will appear shortly and a video will also be made available in the New Straits Times website.

We found that different visitors had different interests, so our strategy of providing a variety of themes turned out to be correct. The themes are (1)temperate plants (2)desert plant (3)tropical climbers (4)food plants (5)flowers (6)colourful foliage and (7)iconic plants.

The garden is different from Eden in Cornwall in that it is not covered. The whole garden is exposed to tropical temperature and rain.

With this experience and our experience in growing a tropical rain forest within a shopping mall, we are now ready to design a roofed structure that will house an integrated combination of forest, garden, shopping and dining. The vegetation can be fully tropical but the temperature and light can be maintained at more comfortable levels.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

High-tech tropical garden in Malaysia now open to public

The Secret Garden of One Utama was opened to the public today at a special launching ceremony by Dato C.K. Teo. This garden is on the rooftop of the 'One Utama' shopping mall in Petaling Jaya and is the largest rooftop garden in SE Asia. It uses novel technologies like granulated carbon as the soil medium and a chilled water delivery system at night. Over 500 species are grown here including many that one would not expect to see in the tropical lowlands, like apple, plum, magnolia and arabica coffee. Also cacti, olives and other dry climate plants. Also staples like rice and sorghum, and spices like pepper, ginger, clove and nutmeg. And lots of flowers in bloom. The garden took over three years to develop. Situated on top of a 7 floor building, its development has been a well-kept secret.

Entrance is free. The garden is open on Saturdays and Sundays at 10 am to 6 pm. Visitors have to obtain a free pass from the reception counter. Only 100 passes are issued per hour.

The press was present in force at the launching and I have never seen reporters and press photographers in such a state of excitement. The Patron and the President of the Selangor Gardening Society and senior members of the landscape profession were amazed by what they saw. I have to stop here so as not to give any more secrets away.