The Secret Garden @ 1 Utama – The Botanical Garden On The Rooftop Of A Mall

It’s been years since they built The Secret Garden – a huge botanical garden on the rooftop of 1 Utama Shopping Centre – and while many are aware of this not-so-hidden secret, there aren’t many people visiting the place. WHY? 

My hypothesis is that our hot and humid Malaysian weather makes it uncomfortable to walk around in, since you start sweating the moment you leave any air-conditioned space. It’s such a shame, when you compare it to the experience of walking through parks overseas in spring or mild summers. But you gotta work with the cards you’re dealt with, I suppose. lol.

That being said, if you’re planning to visit The Secret Garden, try to go up in the evenings when it’s cooler; like how CH and I did when we were at the mall recently:

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Touted to be the largest rooftop garden in Southeast Asia, the garden covers over 2,700 sq metres of space and is home to about 500 species of plants, mostly tropical and cool climate. If you like plants, this is a great place to enjoy the greenery and take photos of beautiful flowers.

  • PS: If you’re a mozzie-attracting person like me, be prepared for bites.
  • PS 2: Not a botanist or avid gardener of any sort, so I won’t be identifying every single plant in this post lol. Enjoy the photos!

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Bunga raya aka the hibiscus, Malaysia’s national flower. Commonly found in red but also in other variants such as the above. Long stem, large petals. The red colour is supposed to symbolise courage, while the five petals represent the Rukun Negara (National Principles) of Belief in God, Loyalty to King & Country, The Supremacy of the Constitution, The Rule of Law, and Courtesy & Morality.

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Dancing-lady orchids, so called because they resemble the figure of women in large flowing gowns. NOW YOU CANT UNSEE IT

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Bougainvillea flowers are known as bunga kertas (paper flowers) in Malay.

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I think this was an English rose. Love the vibrant hue!

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The garden boasts nicely landscaped areas, with shady gazebos and tunnels covered in plants.

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More pretty but unidentified flowers lol

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Look at that breathtaking colour combo. Wow.

So the next time you want to take a break from the shopping at 1 Utama, spend a moment or two at The Secret Garden. Entry is free.

Secret Garden

7th Floor,
1 Utama Shopping Centre
1 Lebuh Bandar Utama
Bandar Utama City Centre
Petaling Jaya
47800, Selangor, Malaysia.

ADMISSION: FREE

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM, daily

Urban Green Spaces – Secret Garden, Upper Roof 1 Utama

Living in the city, there aren’t too many green spaces outside of the allocated parks and forest reserves. In major metropolises, people have taken to ‘urban’ green spaces, converting their apartments or rooftops into small sanctuaries of green. While the practice hasn’t fully taken off in Malaysia, there are a few initiatives slowly taking root, such as the Secret Garden on the upper roof of 1Utama Shopping Center in Petaling Jaya. The mall has a ‘rainforest’ section – a small oasis in the middle of the building – so its great that they have another one! 🙂 The rooftop space is under utilised anyway.

PS: Apparently this place has been around since 2009, I just wasn’t aware of it. Better late than never, they say 😀 

To get to the place, simply look for the lifts that are between the Old and New Wing. The lift has a button labeled ‘Secret Garden’. Guess it’s not so secret after all. 😀

Since it is an open air rooftop concept, it was quite sunny and humid during our afternoon visit. The garden is quite large, spanning across 30,000 sq ft, and is divided into two sections. There are over 500 types of tropical plants/flowers to be found here!  Some of the plants are labeled to provide information to visitors.

I think the ‘curtain’ structure was very Instagrammable 🙂

Cosy nooks with benches for people to sit and just chill.

They also do guided tours and people can use the venue for wedding photography. Check or schedules on their FB page 🙂

Not a gardening enthusiast so I didn’t know what everything was called – but it’s nice to just walk around in a garden setting, don’t you think ? 🙂

We had these back at our old home. Ixora plants (woo, I got one right!) We used to make ixora bracelets and necklaces out of them. 🙂

Secret Garden

7th Floor,
1 Utama Shopping Centre
1 Lebuh Bandar Utama
Bandar Utama City Centre
Petaling Jaya
47800, Selangor, Malaysia.

ADMISSION: FREE

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM, daily.

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Chinese New Year @ Sunway Pyramid – Spring Flower Market

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It feels like a never ending string of festivities – with Christmas and New Year’s just over, we’re already gearing up for Chinese New Year (which falls on Jan 28 this year!). Ushering in the Year of the Rooster at Sunway Pyramid is a Spring Flower Market, featuring dozens of beautiful flowers and plants for sale.

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Auspicious plants to have in your home for the New Year – neat little bamboos arranged in a cluster. Bamboos are considered lucky and represent strength. Some are twisted to form auspicious shapes like the number 8 (8 in Chinese sounds like ‘prosperity’ – making it a favourite number for special occasions)

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Fake decorative peonies. No less pretty though!

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Colourful orchids in a variety of hues and patterns.

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One of my favourites: look at that vivid colour!

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Also on display: terrariums.

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Aside from orchids, there were also other flowers. Sorry, my knowledge of flora is limited so I have no idea what these are.

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Over at the other concourse, the mall had set up a Hong Kong style ‘avenue’, with posters of old HK movies and prop-filled shopfronts. To mark the year of the rooster, a giant chicken sat atop the structure.

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Bel, Jo and I took our customary CNY reunion photo at the photo booth, with a backdrop of a traditional herbalist’s store.

Happy CNY!

Travel Diaries: Floria Putrajaya 2014

The annual Floria Putrajaya event has become a signature event in the administrative capital of Putrajaya, Malaysia for the past seven years. This time around it’s a bit different, because…. Floria has officially become a permanent fixture! 🙂 They also received a ‘royal’ status from the Sultan, kind of like the Royal Camden Flower show in London. The nine day flower and garden show was held at the  Lakeside of Precinct 4 two weeks ago. Weather was extremely hot, so the next time around you should bring umbrellas, sunscreen, shades and a hat.

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The hundreds of colourful umbrellas at the entrance were for show only.. they didn’t give any shade at all. It was a scene for hipsters to show off their photos on Facebook and Instagram. I jumped on the bandwagon as well.

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I made a beeline for the air conditioned sanctuary of the indoor pavilion, a large tent housing creative entries by flower/garden designers from all over the world. Here are some entries!  All arrangements are made using real flowers.

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A ‘zoo’ section complete with animal props, such as elephants, monkeys and even a tiger decorated with yellow and orange orchids.

After lounging around the air conditioned tent for a bit, I walked out into the sweltering heat and immediately started sweating, even though I was dressed in a breezy T-shirt. I couldn’t understand how some families could bring their babies out in strollers in the afternoon sun, wtf. Even I almost got a heatstroke at the end of the day, imagine how those little kids would feel.

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The area was split into many different sections, often landscaped around a theme. This area had beautiful water lilies in various shades of pink and purple, floating in small pools of water. They were among the only plants that still seemed fresh and thrived in the scorching sun.. other displays were slightly wilted.

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It’s not a bad idea to have a flower and garden show, but with Malaysia’s hot weather, one has to wonder if it is appropriate.  It’s probably best to go at night when it’s cooler, but everyone else would think the same so it would be crowded.

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The nice garden displays were all by the lake. This one had an English garden feel, with white picket-like structures and potted plants hanging from them. Boats packed with visitors cruised down the man-made Putrajaya lake.

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There was a sea of colourful fans that spun in the wind, creating a nice ripple effect. From the pix, it was hard to tell it was in Malaysia – felt like a field in Taiwan or something. Kudos to the organisers, they did a really good job at the exhibits this year ! Well worth the small entry price of RM3.

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Bougainvilleas (omg I managed to spell that without fking up lol.)

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One of the landscapes was done by an award winning landscaping architect. Dubbed the ‘Hanging Gardens’, the central theme was a container fashioned into a small rest house of sorts. On the second floor, a balcony opened up to panoramic views of the lake and the Putrajaya bridge.

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The ground floor had an outdoor patio, complete with cascading waterfall and swinging seats in the shade. Would be great to have a home like that and just chill by the water with a book and a drink.

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A white woven canopy at the entrance to one of the gardens

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A crystal-themed garden with glass beads hanging from various structures, reflecting the dancing sunbeams.

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A very creative display made from plastic bottles with stars stuck to the bottom. Great way to recycle!

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Taking a brief respite from the scorching heat under a walkway of shady trees. They were themed around nostalgia/old memories, with baby pictures of a family, nicely framed and hanging from the branches.

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Beautiful orchids lining the walkway.

Overall, I’d say that the Floria team has really outdone themselves this year! Looking forward to another good installation in the next series. 🙂

Til next post !