Growing from strength to strength


CLOSE to a million varieties of trees, plants and cultivated flowers. That is what visitors can expect to see at the Royal Floria Putrajaya 2022 in Anjung Floria starting today (Aug 29).

In line with this year’s theme, “Orchids”, the highlight will be a vertical flower wall filled with orchids from various species and hybrids, especially from the Dendrobium genus.

Chosen for its petals’ ability to withstand heat, it is the largest of all orchid groups with close to 2,000 species, said Putrajaya Corporation (PPj) Landscape Department vice president Abdul Aziz Buang in explaining Dendrobium’s prominence.

Having been at the helm of the administrative capital’s annual flower and garden festival since 2007, he will be including some varieties from the Phalaenopsis genus on this wall following a surge in its popularity in the past seven years.

“The petals look like butterfly wings. They are a favorite of mine too,” he said.

Another much anticipated draw is a special showcase at the Floral Pavillion where a fierce competition is expected to take place featuring 18 Malaysian and international flower designers in up to 55 categories.

The night scenery has been promised to be a breathtaking one with special lighting effects.

Visitors will undoubtedly be drawn to a special glow in the dark section featuring LED lights tied to the branches of trees and flowering plants.

In all, the grand showcase of blooms will be presented in no less than 15 different concepts, each with a different theme.

Appearing for the first time is a special section dedicated to cactus plants, bromeliads and succulents in a cowboy-themed setting.

The star attractions are the giant cacti species such as the Golden Barrel which can grow up to roughly the average height of a two-year-old child.

History

Held for the first time in 2007, Floria Putrajaya was originally intended to be a biennial family-oriented event to liven up the activity calendar of the planned capital city, recalled PPj Park Planning And Development director Haslinda Khalid.

Little did the organizers expect the public’s overwhelming response.

“In the first year, we had 300,000 visitors. When it was held for the second time, in 2009, we had 504,000. Due to popular demand, the Government decided to hold it annually. In 2010, visitor count rose to 740,000. By 2011, numbers reached over one million,” Haslinda said.

It was in 2011 that the organizers saw the beginnings in the turning of this garden and flower show into a mega event. One memorable collaboration was with Tourism and Culture Ministry which organized a parade of decorated boats sailing across the Putrajaya Lake, accompanied by a fireworks show that lit up the night sky.

By 2012, due to the rise in the number of international participants, it was decided that the event was to be put entirely under the jurisdiction and management of PPj for better planning and regulatory purposes.

One of the reasons is the large amount of blooms and plants required for these shows, said Abdul Aziz.

“For example, to create flower meadows for decorating walkways every year, we will use no less than 250,000 marigolds of various colours. In addition, we will also have other types of flowers like periwinkles, cosmos and petunias for added emphasis. For better cost savings, they are cultivated at the 4.04ha Putrajaya Landscape and Agriculture Center of Excellence (MyPlace) where many of the flowers and plants that are used for landscaping in this city are also grown.

“Another factor is when flowers are brought out for display during shows, they must be in bloom. Otherwise, they will not be serving any purpose. To ensure this, the gardeners have to time the planting of annual flowers some 60 days before the actual show in order for the blooms to look their best come the actual day,” he said.

Getting better every year

The event was given the royal status in 2014 when Almu’tasimu Billahi Muhibbuddin Tuanku Alhaj Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah, who was then the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong and 27th Sultan of Kedah, consented for the Royal Floria name to be used from that year onwards.

In the same year, the event was recognized by the Malaysia Book of Records for having the highest number of international participants in a flower festival.

More accolades followed — the Joyce White Award of Excellence by the World Flower Council in 2015 and recognition for creative excellence at the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show and Institute of Landscape Architects Green Achievement Awards in 2017.

According to Haslinda, the participation of schools and universities at the yearly event is a pride for its organisers.

“Not all flower and park festivals include local educational institutions in their events. But we feel strongly that their presence is crucial to raise awareness of the importance of nature conservation and to attract more young people to pursue studies in the agricultural and horticultural fields,” she said.

This year, some 20 primary and secondary schools will be pitting their green thumb skills in a terrarium competition. Under the tertiary educational institution category are seven entries, mostly submitted from those offering landscape architecture courses.

Economic restart

Touted as the greatest flower show in the mother of all gardens, the Royal Floria is more than just a beauty show.

Throughout its seven day duration, more than 300 activities have been planned in the calendar.

There will be flower arrangement demonstrations, gardening workshops, photography competitions, entertainment acts, watercolor art contests and crafts activities.

“After the economic slowdown due to restrictions under the movement control order (MCO) imposed in the past two years because of Covid-19, one of the aims of this event is the regeneration of business activities for those in the landscaping, flowers and ornamental plant industry. As this is also a high-impact tourism draw, it will bring a positive economic spillover to the local community,” said Haslinda.

After the event’s two-year hiatus, Abdul Aziz projected that visitor eagerness would drive sales of plants at the Garden Bazaar, Hort Mart and food and beverage outlets upwards.

“For one, gardening has become more popular following the MCO,” he pointed out.

Following this are revived interests for entrepreneurial activities catering to nursery equipment, gardening accessories and gadgets for high-tech farming, in addition to consultancy services for landscaping and park management services. At the very least, a gathering of so many like-minded enthusiasts will be a great place to network, concluded Abdul Aziz.

Royal Floria Putrajaya 2022 ends on Sept 4. It is open 9am to 10pm daily.

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