The Botanic Gardens: A Tale of Gloom and Bloom

loading Carefully curated landscape by Charles Curtis.

Like Penang itself, the island’s famous Gardens had an exciting but turbulent history.

The Penang Botanic Gardens is a much-loved oasis of greenery. It sits not far from George Town’s centre, and attracts plant-lovers, hikers, joggers and strollers through its gates every day. Nestled at the foot of Penang Hill, few casual visitors are however aware of the botanical vision of the men who directed it in its nascent days, not to mention the many false starts and threats to its existence.

During Penang’s early colonial era, the Moluccas (or Spice Islands) in Indonesia were the only place in the world where nutmeg and cloves grew – and it had made the Dutch East India Company, which then controlled the trade, hugely wealthy.


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