Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rooftop Secret Garden of 1 Utama under renovation

The Secret Garden is being renovated part by part so as not to inconvenience visitors. The pathways are being re-surfaced to make them less slippery. At the same time the drainage is being improved for storm water to drain out faster. The big palms are being removed because we are afraid they are getting too heavy for the floor, which is the roof of the shopping mall.

A new free brochure is being designed that will be more informative than the present one.

A new visitor's book will soon be introduced in which visitors will record the time they come to the garden. This will enable us to plan better. Flowers have their times too. Some are morning flowers that fade in the afternoon and several are late afternoon flowers. So far we have favored whole-day flowers. We also prefer plants that flower year round, to give us SPRINGTIME ALL THE TIME. We do not grow night flowers because the garden is not open at night. We are also giving up on plants like petunias that that are quickly destroyed by snails.

The number of visitors average 300 to 400 every weekend. Most visitors are locals. We have just been included in the Ministry of Tourism's new brochure entitled 'Parks and Gardens Trails of Malaysia', which should bring us to the attention of foreign tourists.

If one googles under 'Secret Garden of 1 Utama' one can read about 100 blogs on it. These, together with comments in the visitor's book have provided us with useful guidance.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Canna virus in Malaysia

Cannas in Malaysia are susceptible to what looks like a viral disease. The symptoms in Malaysia are stunting of plants, patches of dead tissue on young leaves, reduction of flower-size to half the normal size, and progressive stunting and weakening of the clump or bed until no more shoots appear. Separating out the rhizomes and cleaning them before transplanting does not help unless the disease is detected before it has spread to all the rhizomes.

At the early stage of infection, the bed should be dug out and the pieces of rhizome bearing swollen buds separated out for replanting. When new shoots emerge, the plants that are infected can be recognized by dead patches of tissue on their leaves. Such plants should be eliminated immediately, leaving healthy plants for starting new colonies. The virus takes several weeks to spread through a bed of cannas so there is time for such corrective action if one is alert to the symptoms of infection.

The virus does not travel in the air or soil. Plants in the next bed a short distance away may remain free of infection. I think the best way to prevent infection is to remove all canna shoots as soon as they have finished flowering. Such spent shoots should be cut off at their base. A regular once-a-week pruning programme will improve ventilation of the canna bed and deter white flies from settling on the leaves. White flies suck sap and are probably the agents spreading the virus in Malaysia.

In temperate countries, where cannas are sold as rhizomes, the canna virus has been disastrous for the canna trade because it is impossible to tell whether a rhizome is infected until it is grown out. In Malaysia and elsewhere in SE Asia, cannas are sold as full-grown plants, usually flowering, so it is immediately apparent from the condition of the plant whether it is infected.