Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Secret Garden

Osmoxylum ( Philippines)

White calathea (
Tropical America)

Elephant Vine / Largyreia nervosa (India)

Clock Vine / Thunbergia grandiflora (India)


Asystasia Hort

Episcia cupreata (Tropical America)

So, the secret's out! I had to find out for myself at the 1 Utama Shopping complex.

When I first heard of 'The Secret Garden', I liked it straight off, just like that! The brochure in my hand got me thrilled. Wow! such a unique name and instantly reminds me of Frances Hodgson Burnett's timeless classic, The Secret Garden. I only read the Ladybird version as that's what the children read! Still, what a story when the lives of the children, Mary Lennox, Dickon, Colin and the adults intertwined and amid some of life's complexities, a secret garden blossomed and finally, family relationships.

I told my daughter, 'Hey! we've got all these under one roof in the sky!' All these as the brochure says:

'The Secret Garden of 1 Utama is an experimental garden using novel technologies to grow 500 species of interesting, rare and unusual plants in an open tropical roof -top environment. The soil medium is based on granulated horticultural carbon (a form of charcoal). Chilled water is provided by sprinklers at night.

The plants in the garden fall under several themes and this guide indicates where the representative theme plants may be found. The name of the plants are provided in small black labels at the base of the plants.

You are welcome to take photographs but please observe that this is a NO SMOKING area.

Visiting Hours : 10am - 6pm. Weekends only. '

So, naturally I armed myself with a camera, stepped out of the lift - a 9 storeys -high. There's a guard house and I signed in.

I resisted clicking right away. Just looked around to soak in the astounding beauty all round me. Such a profusion of colours! Everywhere I looked, my eyes caught something different and beautiful. The senses feast, well aware that 'Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty' - John Ruskin.

It was quiet. And I enjoyed the serenity, knowing that way down below, I had just left the madness of shopping myself!

Pathways meander and are disabled- friendly. Cool misty sprays at different vantage points above took the edge off the humididty. A waterfall cascades behind the osmoxylum and other plants and the little ponds and streams add interest to the entire garden.

Firecracker / Crossandra infundibuliformis ( India and Sri Lanka)

India blue bells / Strobilanthes hamiltoniana (India)

I liked the vines/creepers that formed the pergolas. If I had a book on me, I'd probably had plonked myself on one of the benches and enjoy a quiet read. In fact, the BookCrossing people could do with this as an alternative location instead of being located on the Ground Floor, High Street where there's the noise that doesn't allow one's thoughts to function!

The Secret Garden is the brainchild of the 1 Utama director, Datuk Teo Chiang Kok. Way back in 2000, Datuk Teo had already concieved the idea of a roof -top garden to be integrated with the construction of 1 Utama's new wing. This is to reduce the complex's carbon foot print and to alleviate global warming.

This project was led by distinguished botanist and researcher, Dr Francis Ng who recently was awarded the prestigious David Fairchild medal 2009 ( Plant Exploration) presented by the National Tropical Botanical Garden of the United States.

The garden layout was planned such that heavy trees are located on supporting columns as advised by the structural engineer. The guide was handy as I wandered among the 7 themed sections.

The afternoon sun barely filtered strong through the haze which was still hanging around us. Still, it was noon and the gardeners were taking their break. I spoke to two of them , friendly foreign labour that uphold our workforce. He asked if I had taken enough pictures. I was being watched!! And he showed me the hidden sprinklers among the plants that lessen the workload.

I will definitely revisit The Secret Garden. Verdict - rejuvenating and delightful! What's more, it's hard to keep a secret in when it's so luxuriant!


  1. WOW! This is sure one "secret garden"!!!!
    I'll make it a point to visit one day!
    Thanks for writing, otherwise I'd never know!

  2. Its a really beautiful secret garden :)
    I wish I could walk around !!!
    There are also very special plants,
    I love your pictures and lovely words:)))
    I was yesterday with my daughter in a garden center ( I can walk there for ours .... LOL)

  3. Looks so lush and beautiful! I think I would sit on that bench in the photo for quite some time and "take it all in".
    thanks for sharing such a beautiful place full of gorgeous plant life with us.

  4. Can you believe that I shop at 1-Utama weekly yet I was not aware of the existence of the garden?!!Thanks for sharing!!

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  6. How beautiful! I'd never want to come back down to reality.

  7. You sure have some amazing plants there..

  8. Thank you, thank you for this post, Keats! I text messaged my parents immediately and asked if they would like to go. Of course they would -- they are flora-crazy -- but they were concerned about contracting Influenza A. I hope I can persuade them that the risk of contracting Influenza A in an open air rooftop garden is very small. I simply love the shots. Reminds me of the time I took my parents to the Rimba Ilmu conservatory and rare plants arboretum, and they had such a grand time taking photos of everything! I know my Mum will want an Osmoxylum plant of her own after this!

  9. I'm so glad you dedicated this post to the secret garden of I Utama. I haven't been there although I have heard about it from the newspapers. Now, after reading your post, I can't wait for the weekend to come. I want to visit it soonest possible. Such a lovely place. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  10. Hi everyone, sorry for the delay in replying. Just back from a short hol in Macau.

    lupie, you're welcome to this garden info. it's for all to enjoy :)

    Anya, hope you had a lovely time with your daughter talking about plants too.

    The Retired One and Veronica lee, I think I've added one more to your 'must see' places!!

    Gran and adrienne, the secret's out and I'm glad everyone's excited to see it , if possible.

    Turquoise diaries, i agree, such an amazing variety, made possible with the tropical climate.

    ~CovertOperations'78~, thanks for spreading the news to your parents. I love the Osmoxylum too. Thought it would make a lovely bridal bouquet when i first set my eyes on !! ONe Utama management has done a wonderful job of this garden.

    Autumn belle, do visit when you can. I've not included the cacti and others too. So there's really a lot more to enjoy.

  11. Great series of photos! There are so many interesting plants and lovely flowers in that beautiful garden. I noticed a nice bench there; it would be great to sit there and enjoy the beauty all around.

  12. Glad you found the secret..... they are beautiful and you did well capturing the beauty and share it here.

  13. That looks like my kind of place! All the plants and flowers look so exotic and foreign to me, except that the Hydrangea looks just like the one in my yard! Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Hi
    MedaM,Bangchik and Kakdah, we're lucky creatures to enjoy all the wondrous nature that surrounds us. Thanks for your comments.

    Lin, i agree about the exotic flowers and plants. The tropical climate gives us such profusion.

  15. You have a luxuriant appetite for description. Great post and I have never seen that Osmoxylum in
    my country.

    Some interesting info are also noted and places like that are truly conducive to stimulating one's mind in appreciating what nature can do to man.

    Am linking this to Fleurdeliz.

  16. Oh, I could stroll around there all day. Beautiful photos. Thanks for taking me with you on your tour.

  17. Hi
    Bonnie Bonsai, doesn't the Osmoxylum look so gorgeous? A winner!
    Thanks for your link to Fleurdeliz :)

    Patty, i'm glad the secret's out. The gardener told me school children have also made trips there. So that's encouraging.

  18. Mankind can 'almost' create something as lovely as mother nature can. It must be nice to have all the different species so close together. Lovely photos. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  19. Beautiful, and stunning to see so many different colors of flowers. Thanks for bringing them to us! You're right, they are too marvelous not to share..I would love just to sit in this garden for a whole day!

  20. Great shots and such fine description! Lovely post!

  21. the elephant vine is so pretty. i would love one of those in my garden!

  22. HI
    Tabor, you're right. Put to good use,mankind can can do wonderful things.

    Icy BC, i think there should be more flowers now that the haze has gone. More flowers, more butterlflies too!

    Indrani, thank you for your comments. You have lovely tours for your friends who visit your blog. Keep it up!

    Tina, thanks for visiting my blog. So many wonderful travel tips on yours. Catch you there more often!

  23. I'm guessing that you're a fan of flowers and plants and have green fingers. I've not visited the Secret Garden but will make it a point to do so the next time I'm at 1U.

  24. Hi
    Kess and Her Mama, to my husband's remark, 'where are you going to plant it?" when I bring home some new plants, my cheeky answer is 'on my head'!!! Well, I try to to find a space for them. They haven't crowded me out yet!

    I really need to know more about plants to grow them better. Do visit the Secret Garden. Am pretty sure you'll enjoy it too :)

  25. Thanks for visiting my blog. What an interesting post and what a lovely garden the Secret garden is.

  26. I'm in love with that floral "S" in the first picture!!!

  27. HI
    Joanne, thanks for visiting too. It is indeed a lovely garden.

    Suzanne Casamento, that's why it's at the top!

  28. So pleased to see the hydrangeas, one of my fav flowers, in full healthy blooms despite the tropical climate. Lovely garden, would love to visit it one day.

  29. Hi, I just happened upon your blog via Turquoise Diaries - I'm in KL! This is a very interesting post and I'll be sure to check out 1 Utama soon! Thank you!

  30. Hi
    petite nyonya, do visit it when you're in kl. hope the blooms are at their best then.

    Caroline,thanks so much for dropping in. Enjoy your stroll in the garden. There's a cafe, GARDEN(? Grd floor) and it's nice and cosy to have s bite or more. Plenty of flowers but not real!

  31. Hello! What a lovely place to be in! Loved going through all the wonderful photos! Thank you for stopping by my blog and thus giving me the opportunity to be here...I'll be back! Cheers!

  32. i wanna visit here too!!! thanks for the great review

  33. Hi
    ai wei, you're welcome!do visit and let your friends know too:)

  34. OMG another brilliant find! And right under my nose! I've been to 1Utama so many times, and I've never had a clue that this was there! Thank you for sharing.

    I'm dragging my husband here as well ;)

  35. You know what? I told a lie, and did not know I did!

    At the end of your post, there are 'links' and that led me right back to a post Ee Lynn did on the very same garden.

    I forgot that she'd mentioned it. Because I was so thrilled at finding out the name of a flower in my garden: the Rangoon Creeper!

    So everything else in the post just became a blur - until I re-visited it just now :(

    That's what happens when you grow old lah. You start losing things! Your hearing, as well as your marbles ;)

  36. Hi pat, yes, do get your husband there. I'm sure he'll enjoy this wonderful garden just below the clouds!!! Well,a little hum of the traffic below!


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