Sunday, 20 May 2012

A Secret Garden

With only a couple of weeks remaining of this visit to Jakarta, I thought I would pick up the pace a little and  visit some different parts of the City. Yesterday, I started with a visit to a lovely interiors store 'Temple Trees', which stocks fabrics by Sri Lanka's wonderful Barbara Sansoni of 'Barefoot' fame, and then headed on to have lunch in upmarket Kemang in South Jakarta.

From the moment I caught a glimpse of the entrance to the restaurant 'Payon' (Jl Kemang Raya 17), I knew I had made a great choice. Not only was there a water feature on the step, the entrance itself was swathed in one of my very favourite tropical plants, the Rangoon Creeper Quisqualis indica.


This is the double form. The fragrant blooms are the palest of pink when they open, darkening to red as they age.

The main building and restaurant proper is open-sided with bamboo wind chimes to catch the breeze. The figures in this carving are shadow puppet characters from the wayang, Java's famed puppet theatre.

It is completely surrounded by a 'moat' complete with goldfish.

Potted lotus

There is another pavilion directly opposite it, and several to the sides that are used for different functions. The centre pathway is bordered by shallow channels on each side and frangipanis (plumeria).

The channels are planted out with a lovely selection of waterlilies with variety of colour, leaf size and some variegated. (Yes, I know I am a bit obsessed!)

Almost every frangipani is covered in ephiphytes and bedecked with orchids. While I was admiring them, the very gracious owner came out to talk to me and tell me about her collection. She gave me a bit of a tip for my sole Vanda orchid, telling me that they really enjoyed getting a breeze. They are usually planted in open slatted timber containers. You can see one just slightly lower and to the right of centre in the photo below. Hers didn't seem to have any potting mixture in them at all, so I will definitely think about repotting mine on my return. The big difference is that the air is nearly always moist here, whereas things really dry out in Brisbane during our winter months.

One of the things I reflected on after my visit was how interested and happy to chat this lady had been, and I couldn't help but contrast it with a very recent episode.

There is a very big skyscraper on lovely grounds near me (Sapoerna Strategic centre). I asked one of the guards last week if I could go in and photograph the gardens, but no sooner had I entered and started to look closely at the garden beds, when I was unceremoniously asked (clearly by someone more important) not to take photos and, essentially, to move on. I guess the big difference between gardeners and commercial enterprises is that a true gardener always wants to share, whether it is a handful of seeds, advice, or just the beauty of their garden. A commercial landscaping project can be beautiful, but, if it isn't loved and shared, it has no soul.

Payon's garden is clearly loved.


Another Vanda. My new-found friend explained this is close to the original colour of the orchid in the wild.

Sorry , not too sure what kind of orchid this is, but I love it.

Another Vanda

And finally, in case you were wondering, lunch was great too. I had fish marinated in coconut milk, spices, and chilli; steamed rice; a side of steamed Asian greens, bean sprouts, and winged beans with coconut and chilli, and a glass of tamarind juice. I will definitely be back to 'Payon'.


  1. What a slice of paradise. The gardens are just fantastic. Loved the Orchids. I've always wanted to grow the Rangoon Creeper, but I've still not yet got any. Those double blooms look so lovely. Dinner looked absolutely delicious!

    1. I am in the same boat with the Rangoon Creeper, Bernie. I love it to bits, but it can be pretty rampant and needs a strong support. Sadly, I don't think there is a spot for it in my small suburban garden.

  2. The food would have been even more enjoyable in such beautiful surroundings. Love the frangipanis draped in orchids and the water lillies and the rangoon creeper. What a special place.

    1. Yes, a few of my favourite things all in the same garden. I think the restaurant would be beautiful in the evening too. You wouldn't see the details of the garden, but I can imagine the fragrance and the ambience.

  3. Oh now you have me thinking I should attach some orchids to my franzipani. It looks gorgeous dripping with orchids. that dinner looks delicious too - I have lots of winged beans and am looking for more ways to cook them. Have you tried the edible ferns? my daughters and I really loved them.

    1. I'm going to do the very same thing when I get home. I think at least on of my frangipanis is big enough now. I haven't seen the fern dish here in Java, but we made it when I did a cookery class in Bali some years ago. Interesting, it looked a bit like bracken fern, but I don't know if we have anything quite the same in Oz.

    2. I did find it in the Cairns markets, but it just didn't taste the same..

  4. Lovely. The Rangoon Creeper is a beauty!



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