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January 14, 2011

Secret Garden draws the crowd

By PRIYA MENON
priya@thestar.com.my

STARTING the year on a positive note, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen visited the coveted Secret Garden at 1 Utama’s rooftop.

The visit was in line with her ministry’s latest endeavour to promote parks and gardens to domestic and international tourists.

“I have been wanting to visit this park as we realise that nature, parks and gardens have always been a tourist attraction. Tourists go all around the world to look at parks and gardens and Malaysia has so much to offer in terms of tropical plants,” she said.

The Secret Garden, a paradise for gardeners and plant lovers, has 500 species of plants from all around the world, including tropical and temperate plants.


First-hand look: Dr Ng visiting the Secret Garden at 1 Utama with Teo (second from right) and Dr Francis Ng.

Led by distinguished botanist and researcher Dr Francis Ng, the rooftop garden occupies 30,000 square feet of space.

It earned its name due to the nature of its existence that was kept a secret from both staff and shoppers till late. It was first conceptualised by 1Utama director Datuk Teo Chiang Kok who realised the importance of preserving the environment.

According to Dr Ng Yen Yen, under the 10th Malaysia Plan, a substantial amount of money was dedicated to parks and gardens. Among the states that have benefitted from this are Malacca and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.

“These kind of projects can also encourage people to show interest in gardening.

“Almost 50% of the plants in the Secret Garden can be found in villages and urbanites can view these beautiful plants,” she said.


Pretty sight: Sunflowers are part of the Secret Garden at the
1 Utama shopping mall.

She lauded the efforts by both Teo and Francis whose dedication and passion led to the completion of the garden.

“This is an ideal place for tired shoppers who can come to de-stress and then continue with their shopping,” she said.

The minister, an amatuer gardener and nature lover herself, was ecstatic at seeing several plants including a flowering Magnolia. She, however, was disappointed that several visitors were not civic minded in caring for the plants.

According to Teo, many people pluck the flowers and plants on display while others throw cigarette butts on the giant Amazonian Water Lilys in the Rainforest section downstairs.

“Hopefully parents can bring their children here to appreciate nature and learn to be civic-conscious,” she said.

Teo also said that if there was demand, the mall would consider opening the Secret Garden for long­er hours to enlighten the public.

The Secret Garden is open on weekends only from 10am to 7pm and it is a no smoking area.

 

 

  
 
 
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