Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur, day 2

The skies were overcast and threatening rain but that didn’t stop us from visiting the Perdana botanical gardens before we needed to switch hotels on our last day in KL. It was the only time on our trip that we didn’t hear motorbikes, which made it a peaceful respite from the bustling city just blocks away.

Perdana Botanical Garden

Perdana Botanical Garden

The entrance to the Orchid and Hibiscus Garden was a bit tricky to find and it wasn’t clear if we were supposed to pay extra to enter but there was no one at the visitor’s booth so we walked right in.

Perdana Botanical Garden  Perdana Botanical Garden

Perdana Botanical Garden

We wound our way through the park and over to the Tugu Negara war memorial and sculpture gardens before tiring of the increasing rain, so we grabbed an Uber to get back to the hotel.

war memorial

After an easy hotel transfer, I headed over to the Islamic Arts Museum for a few hours. The collection of Islamic art from SE Asia was beautifully curated, including pottery, textiles, jewelry, wood, and paper arts and featured several intricately decorated interior domes.

blue dome

painting  intricate bowl

Gebyok door and wall  ivory cabinet from India

Kashmir shawl detail  Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

One of my favorite parts was the scale models of famous mosques from around the world. We had seen three in person but I was a tad disappointed that the beautiful Blue Mosque in Istanbul was absent.

Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem  Sacred Mosque in Mecca

The museum is also right next to the National Mosque of Malaysia, so I got to hear part of the call to prayer from the rooftop terrace.

call to prayer @ National Mosque of Malaysia

Quite on accident that morning, I discovered that KL had two Din Tai Fung restaurants so we choose the Pavilions Mall location and got ready to stand in line for delicious soup dumplings. We only waited about 15 minutes for a table and the xiao long bao did not disappoint. Extra bonus – due to the monetary conversion, these were by far the cheapest dumplings we’ve had in our multiple visits to Din Tai Fung in Taipei, Orange County (CA), Beijing, Sydney, and Kuala Lumpur.

xio long bao @ Din Tai Fung!
chicken soup dumplings, truly delicious

We ended the evening with a quick drink in the aLoft lobby before packing our bags ahead of our flight to Hong Kong the next morning.

Duke Gardens, July 2012

Last weekend we went to Duke Gardens to check out the summer flowers and to exercise my macro lens. The flowers were as impressive as ever, but the insect life was also quite interesting:


notice the bees’ head is not really attached… Leandra was simultaneously fascinated and grossed out.

Eastern tiger swallowtail

Eastern tiger swallowtail with bonus background bee

water lily

pond lily

busy bee

bumblebee and zinnia

More Duke Garden photos on Flickr.

Missouri Botanical Gardens

Upon booking our trip to St.Louis I immediately knew one place we couldn’t miss- the Missouri Botanical Gardens, or Mobot. Famous for their plant taxonomy I’ve known and used datasets from them for years. Thankfully, the gardens did not disappoint, with beautiful glass and metal sculpture, large ponds, and thousands of flowering plants.

pond and Climatron
pond, glass sculpture, and the beautiful Climatron facility for tropical plants

Three Graces
Three Graces sculpture

beautiful pink astilbe- I wish mine were this happy

Japanese Garden bridge
a warm late spring day by the Japanese Garden bridge

Chihuly gate
Chihuly gate

See more garden photos on Flickr.

We spent over three hours walking up and down the paths in and we still didn’t see everything. Eventually the hot sun wore us out and we retired to our hotel to shower before our flight home to RDU. These gardens are massive and well-worth a trip if you are in the area.

Duke Gardens in the spring

Friday was beautiful here in NC- 80 degrees and sunny- so we headed over to the Duke Botanical Gardens in the afternoon. They have a number of raised beds filled with tulips in the spring and this year we seemed to visit right around their peak.

red and yellow tulips

and irises too


The garden allows dogs so Riesling got to strut her new haircut (and pink bandanna) around the grounds.

Riesling in the sun

As usual, she got a lot of smiles and comments from folks. She’s not used to heat yet so she was panting heavily; of course, this didn’t slow her down too much, though she did stretch out on the cool futon when she got home.

More pics can be seen on our flickr pages.

February showers bring March flowers

The recent rainfall along with the warm temperature has brought most everything in our garden to life over the last few weeks, and we are fully in mid-spring in Durham. Some photos from the garden:

Our daffodils started blooming in mid-February, and this is one of the last with a bloom. I’ll need to deadhead them next weekend.

A group of grape hyacinths in the front yard. This is the most prolific they’ve ever been, which is surprising considering the drought we’ve had.

These hyacinths have a great scent so we’ve been cutting some to bring inside.

With a little luck our dogwoods will be in bloom next week!

The garden in November

Even with the drought we still have a few plants that have provided us some color late into November. For example, we planted hardy cyclamen several years ago, and they send up flowers every fall.

These are really winter plants- after they’re done flowering they’ll send out their leaves which will stick around until April or so. We’ve also got some traditional fall color, especially from my Japanese maple:

Clearly happy in its container on the patio.

The biggest surprise is our gerbera daisy:

We haven’t had a gerbera flower in several months, but after we got some rain a few weeks ago, “Fred” came back to life and started blooming. With a bit of mulch the gerberas will come back next year. Hopefully we’ll have a better balance of sun and rain in the next growing season for Fred and all the others!