I visited the Kuching North City Commission’s Orchid Garden, which I was pleasantly surprised to find was open on a public holiday.
When the garden first opened, I know that the State’s late Orchid King Datuk Au Yong Nang Yip was instrumental in its development. I had the honour of speaking to him years ago and he described how growing orchids had given him so much joy and practically transformed his life.
He was not ashamed to reveal that as a young man, he was a prone to getting into fights. Orchids revealed a gentler and more patient side to the man and how he spoke about his beloved orchids was nothing short of poetic.
In fact he said some orchids have the sweetest perfumes and I discovered he was right yesterday, as I curiously sniffed a few of the thousands of magnificent flowers in bloom.
It was great to see so many visitors – from families, to couples, and tourists – of various ethnic groups and nationalities. Much like the open houses I had the privilege to attend.
According to DBKU’s website, the Orchid Garden is divided into two major areas, made up of the nursery and the display area which houses a total collection of 40,000 plants comprising of 65 genera.
What makes this garden special is its collection of Borneo Orchids such as the Lady’s Slipper (Paphiopedilum Sanderianum), green and black flowered orchid (Coelogyne Pandurata), and Normah Orchid Normah (Phalaenopsis Bellina), which was declared the State flower on August 28, 1983.
During my enjoyable visit, I couldn’t help but recall how Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen trashed the Orchid Garden during her visit last year. In fact her criticisms are still on her blog!
She said the garden lacked uniqueness and was not impressive enough to compete with other gardens overseas.
Strange because the 6.2-hectare orchid garden’s consultant Orchidwoods — founded by the late Datuk Au Yong — has won a multitude of titles and those displayed at the DBKU orchid garden won 10 prizes at the Singapore Garden Festival and Orchid Show 2010.
Ng Yen Yen received an earful in reply from the State government through Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman for her comments and rightly so. Sadly, I believe she never apologised.
From what I saw, the garden is indeed very beautiful and there are many interesting varieties of orchids on display. Such amazing colour schemes!
There were many tourists when I visited and they were all very complimentary about what they saw – snapping loads of pictures as was I.
The Malaysian Minister was obviously completely wrong. She should really remove the damaging remarks from her blog. It’s terrible that over a year later I can still find the story on her site!
Keep up the good work DBKU! The Orchid Garden is definitely worth a visit.
The garden is open from 9.30 am to 6.00 pm from Tuesday to Sunday and on public holidays. For more information on the garden go to the DBKU Orchid Garden page.
Prize-winning plants at Kuching North Orchid Garden
KUCHING, July 19 (Bernama) — The Kuching City North Commission (DBKU) Orchid Garden here has 50,000 orchids from 65 genera and over 600 varieties, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman said Monday.
He said DBKU and Orchidwoods, the consultant company for the 6.2-hectare orchid garden, won 10 prizes for six plants exhibited at the Singapore Garden Festival and Orchid Show 2010 last week.
The Aranda Christine x V/Gordon Dillion won three prizes — first prize in class, gold medal in award judging and Sun Kee Flower Shop Challenge for best Aranda.
“Our orchids are very well maintained and have a good international reputation,” he said, adding that so far more than 15,000 people have visited the DBKU Orchid Garden.
Daud was commenting on a statement by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen during a visit to the garden last week that it was a nice tourism destination but not impressive and unique enough to compete with other gardens overseas, and that many of the 45 orchid species featured at the garden were common species.
The report from NST:
“What she must do is to visit the garden first before making any negative comments,” he said.
“As a minister, she should have given positive comments, not something that can be damaging to our tourism industry.”
Daud said he believed that Dr Ng’s statement, made last month during a visit to Sarawak, had contradicted the many positive responses given by the garden’s visitors since its opening last March.
“Many had described the orchid garden as one of the best in Malaysia.
“We even have visitors comparing us with Singapore’s National Orchid Garden. That itself is a recognition for us,” he said, adding that an estimate 14, 000 people have visited the garden so far.
The report from Ng Yen Yen’s blog:
THE DKBU Orchid Garden in Kuching is a nice tourism destination but not impressive and unique enough to compete with other gardens overseas, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.
She said the 45 orchid species featured at the garden were insufficient as many comprised common species, thus it lacked uniqueness.
“Malaysia has more than 1,000 wild orchid species. If I can suggest one thing that you can do which no other governments can do which I think I can help you is a conservatory on wild orchids.
“Those I can see here, I can see in anybody’s gardens – Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis,” she told officials from Kuching City North Commission (DBKU) and the Tourism and Heritage Ministry when visiting the garden yesterday.
The 15.4-acre garden is managed by DBKU and it is located near the new State Legislative Assembly Complex and the historic Astana and Fort Margherita.
Dr Ng said she had visited many orchid shows overseas and for DBKU Orchid Garden to be internationally known, it should possess a special feature.
Therefore, she said DBKU should work with the Forest Department towards researching and conserving wild orchids since the laws in Sarawak prohibited extraction of wild orchids.
She explained that the ministry was interested to improve parks and gardens nationwide because these had been identified as the latest tourism products.
The minister proposed to DBKU to focus on strengthening the existing garden before developing new phases.
“Just make this a nice and small garden. Big is not beautiful because it is very hard to maintain and you don’t have the resources.”
She pointed out that the souvenir shop should also sell more orchids-related products.
“You must have all books on orchids and books written by Malaysians on Malaysian orchids,” she said.
Speaking to reporters later, Dr Ng suggested that DBKU impose admission fees so that revenue collected could fund the high maintenance cost of the garden.
“DBKU spends RM72,000 every month to maintain the garden and we want to make this place sustainable,” she said.
She said DBKU could either train some volunteers as guides or improve the garden’s trails and provide self guided-maps to visitors.
Dr Ng said her ministry would provide the funds to DBKU to publish its own guidebook on orchids in the garden.
For a start, she announced an immediate funding amounting to RM20,000 to produce a brochure to better guide visitors around the garden; and to organise a photography and contemporary art competitions on orchids in the garden.
She urged DBKU to identify 10 unique orchid species from the garden to be showcased at the Botanical Garden’s trails in the peninsula soon.
She hoped that DBKU and the Tourism and Heritage Ministry would start thinking of improving the garden and turn it into a world class destination for orchid lovers.