THIS is not the first time that the Johor-born landscape designer has achieved international fame.
In 2005, he clinched the silver medal at the Chelsea Flower Show, one of the world’s biggest and oldest horticultural shows.
Last year, Lim In Chong was awarded the silver medal in the show garden category of the international Singapore Garden Festival.
Deftly using the plant media like an artist to create masterpieces of soothing and meaningful landscape designs, he also swept the best design award and peace and flowers award at the premier show in Nagasaki, Japan.
Lim, 56, said creating the show garden at Nagasaki, which he named washinboutei (meaning peace, faith and hope) in response to the tsunami that devastated northern Japan recently, was a most touching experience.“I’m glad that my creation had touched the hearts of the Japanese, as was evident in the feelings and tears of those who viewed my garden, which comprised of three connected sections symbolising the pre-tsunami, post-tsunami and rejuvenation phases of Japan.”
Lim said the middle section of his garden, referred as the faith garden, was a direct response to the tsunami tragedy.
“The faith garden symbolises anguish in the face of tragedy, the red-coloured steel wall is hard and cold and the red signifies blood. There is a black painted moon on the wall.
“The top of the wall has sharp points. The plants are sombre purple and black and a weeping plum tree is drowned in a layer of water.
“However, the metal path that has disappeared under the black water is still there.
“And if you have faith, you will be able to walk on the path, which is a few millimetres under the water.”
Lim said on one side of the faith garden was the pre-tsunami garden, symbolising peace and tranquility in the ways of traditional Japanese life, marked by tall bamboo plants, flowers and moss.
“The other side features a rusted metal seating surrounded by different types of grasses and smaller bamboo plants, symbolising hope and rejuvenation.
“Grasses are the first flora to grow after any natural disaster.
“It also represents annuals like wheat, rice and other grains that provide food.”
In its profile on Lim, the Gardening World Cup website stated: “Lim’s extensive tropical plant knowledge, innovative ideas and intuitive understanding of space relations have helped him become a highly sought-after designer in Southeast Asia.
“As a landscape designer, Lim has an instinctive understanding of space relations which allows him to play with the body and movement.
“As you journey through his gardens and landscapes, you will be presented with views, scents, colour and sound — a result of detailed and architectural plant selections. Each plant has its purpose.
“Furthermore, by being responsible to our environment and ecology, Lim selects only sustainable materials and enjoys native selections that reintroduce fauna to once lost habitats.”
When met at his refurbished pre-World War 2 double-storey house in Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur, recently, Lim said he picked up the love for gardens from his mother, who was an avid orchid grower.
“I was born in Batu Pahat and when I was young, I spent a lot of time playing around Sungai Batu Pahat, catching tiny crabs and observing the sizeable mudskippers there.”
Lim has gone a step further in his artistic venture of creating landscape masterpieces by developing a whole new eco-system on a 4ha agricultural land he owns at his birthplace.
He has introduced the double medium of flora and fauna to create his ultimate masterpiece with the planting of a wide variety of fruit trees to provide food for fauna like hornbills and dusky leaf monkeys.
Lim expressed his deep desire to share his expertise for the greening of Malaysia, adding that he had a fantastic idea for greening urban areas like Kuala Lumpur.
“I want to see how we can connect all the city’s parks and green lungs with the main range of mountains to directly link it to the city.
“How we can grow trees so that the birds and small mammals have a life in the city and build a bird highway that rings the city, and enters it so that nature actually permeates and penetrates the city.”
Lim said with the right political will, parks can be made centres that are connected with other parks via green fingers, with the network becoming integrated with forest reserves and subsequently linked to the main range of mountains.
He also urged the public to link themselves with nature by creating attractive gardens, comprising a water feature, fish, trees and plants in their front yard.
Lim added that rivers like Sungai Klang could easily be cleaned with proper planning, including restoring the natural ecological balance of its banks, and turned into a public recreational spot.