Category Archives: gardens

Silhouettes and Sunbeams

Nothing quite perks your day than an early stroll at the Penang Botanic Gardens. Here’s why …


Home is where the (he)art is

Built between 1924 and 1926, the Loke Villa along George Town’s sea-fronting Gurney Drive is perhaps the last of the heritage residences lining the prestigious promenade which still serves as a lived-in family bungalow.

Artist and designer Rebecca Wilkinson and her husband David, have been the loving and caring custodians of this house for the past 15 years. Loke Villa was designed by Scottish architect David McLeod Craik and built by Alan Loke.

The cool glazed tiles in the villa’s dining area (found also in the London Underground station) keep the house cool and offer visual impact.

“We are glorified caretakers of a house that we love,” says Rebecca of the lime-washed structure which is also known as the ‘Butterfly House’ or ‘Sunlight House.’

The Anglo-Indian mansion boasts Italian marble, French light fittings and wrought iron from Scotland for its materials, and virtually every corner of the home is a joy to visit and stick one’s nose in!

A peek into one of the guest rooms revealed that the bathrooms have not been changed and it’s enamel long baths are reminders of an era where gracious living, an army of household help, garden parties and sprawling bungalows were the order of the day for the well-heeled.

A stroll into the kitchen spelt nostalgia and a longing for the days when our grandparents occupied homes (not as stately as these) with kitchens like these …

Those who sign up for the ZafigoX Private House Tour this Saturday, Sept 2 at 3pm are in for a treat. The lady of the house is displaying her private textile collection, which includes the most exquisite vintage kebayas and sarongs.

Make a booking by registering at

Thank you Rebecca, for sharing an afternoon of gracious hospitality, taking us to vintage kebaya heaven and back, and reminding your guests how important it is to maintain heritage integrity.


This posting speaks for itself via the beautifully-crafted illustrations of a very talented young lady, Vanessa Ho.

The watercolour illustrator was commissioned by George Town Festival (GTF) director Joe Sidek to produce this darling little travel journal called GT80.

It lists the top 80 favourites of GTF, in terms of places to go, things to do, people to see and dishes to eat in George Town.

If there is one souvenir you should buy (RM30 each), during this edition of the GTF, it's this lil brown book which makes an invaluable guide for anyone pounding the streets of George Town or those overseas who pine for their beloved Penang.

Here's why ….

You get to rediscover childhood favourites, be they people, food or places or discover new ones and grow to love them.

Copies of the GT80 illustrated travel journal are available at the GTF office (86, Lebuh Armenian, George Town) during office hours.

(All images – but one – are courtesy of George Town Festival)

Tropical Spiced-Up Christmas

The gift ideas are endless and range from long *cinnamon sticks to scent your festive homes, kitchens and tables, masala chai packs for spiced teas and vanilla pods and pastes for holiday baking.

The Tropical Spice Garden has also curated several festive gift ideas such as their finely selected spices ranging from cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to the harder-to-find green peppers and black cardamom. Also available are the garden’s own range of aromatherapy products like soaps, massage oils, bath and shower oils and bath salts.

Those missing the familiar colour and big stroke styles of the Owen Rebecca t-shirts which began selling at Kuala Lumpur’s Sentral Market in the 1980s are in luck. Tropical Spice Garden is the only place to pick up a Rebecca print whether in the form of her iconic t-shirt, tea towel or cards.

Tropical Spice Garden is located along Jalan Teluk Bahang  and is open from 9am-6pm with the last admission for those wishing to tour the garden set at 5.15pm.

*True Ceylon cinnamon does not contain the harmful coumarin found in the more commonly available cassia. Tropical Spice Garden’s cinnamon is sourced from a single origin farm in Sri Lanka and currently sold in special Christmas edition boxes.

Photos courtesy of Tropical Spice Garden

Secret (tropical) Garden

The drive up the Batu Ferringhi coast to Teluk Bahang is pretty on most days with blue skies and even bluer and sometimes green waters reminding those who live on the island that they are blessed. Before arriving in Teluk Bahang town, slow down and to your left, is a “secret garden” on a hill which serves as a sound lesson in creating a classroom of all things nature. Here, you can stroll amidst the foliage and learn new names of flowers, insects and make friends with tadpoles, frogs, and other blessed friends of nature. With a whiff of spice(s) in the air, you want to learn more about the smells and beautiful dishes you can whip up with them and all these can be fulfilled in other corners of the garden. A cooking school where chefs like Viji, Nyonya Su Pei and Rohana make it a joy to master a local dish or two and partake of it, is found in the grounds. Also perched on a wooden deck, is yet another spot to chill, where you can take it the gentle breezes of the Andaman Sea as you nibble into Thai-inspired canapés or even savour a full Thai lunch or dinner. Even the shopaholics are not forgotten in this tropical paradise, for a retail outlet stocked with many Malaysiana items await.



For now though, lets focus on this weekend’s happenings,  where a “Poison Garden” is taking shape and will be unveiled. The project, is a collaboration between the Tropical Spice Garden and Lithuanian designer Tauras S. The small theme garden is said to reveal the rich history humans co-existing with plants that heal, thrill and kill! Details in the poster below and please remember to RSVP if you are attending.

 Photos courtesy of the Tropical Spice Garden