Malta Gardens: Chinese Garden Of Serenity | Green Patches - Mediterranean Gardening

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Malta Gardens: Chinese Garden Of Serenity

This week I had the opportunity to visit the Chinese Garden Of Serenity in Santa Lucija, a small village in the South of Malta.  Opened in 1998 this garden was a collaboration between Malta and the Republic of China, and was designed and built by Chinese workers.  Sadly, few people seem to know this little gem exists and, luckily for me, it was completely deserted when I visited the place.

malta chinese garden
Driveway leading up to the Main Entrance

The first thing that caught my attention as I was walking up to the main entrance is a Maltese Rock-Centaury, planted right next to a commemorative plaque.  This is the national plant of Malta.  It is endemic to Malta, and considered critically endangered.  This plant is a rare sight, and grows naturally on coastal limestone cliffs, so I was quite surprised, and delighted to see it here.  

maltese rock centaury
Maltese Rock-Centaury

The main entrance leads on to a lovely courtyard, where a large rock structure greeted me.  The rock symbolises a god surrounded by trees and flowers.  There is an inscription behind the rock which translates to 'the pleasure of heaven'.  This place is a good introduction for more beautiful places to come, and it certainly helps to set to mood as I absorbed the peace and quiet, and a sense of tranquillity set in.

malta chinese garden
Courtyard off the main entrance

malta chinese garden
Gorgeous Pink Flowers

Leading off to the left is a zig zag of small courtyards all adjoining by flower shaped entry ways.  Each small courtyard has its own small garden, like small little surprises as is typical of a Chinese garden. The entryways form a sort of passage way, and as I progressed I started hearing the sound of water splashing.  I headed towards the sound, and finally came out of the last opening on to an impressive pond and waterfall.

malta chinese garden
Entry way onto the balcony with the Main Hall on the other side

malta chinese garden
Waterfall at the far end of the pool

Coming out of the balcony, a passageway leads to a zig zag bridge crossing over a small stream.  The bridge leads to a passage going right around the pond, and crossing it is like crossing over to a different world altogether.  Here the terrain changes to beautiful mosaic laid entirely by hand.

malta chinese garden
Hand laid beautiful mosaic on the ground 

malta chinese garden
Zig zag bridge crossing a small stream
malta chinese garden
View of the pond from the bridge

As I walked across to the other side of the pond, the Main Hall with a lovely terrace is the perfect spot to stand and admire all the surrounding buildings.  As I was standing there, listening to the water fall and gazing at the green water, a feeling of peace and awe hit me. My mind drifted off, and I could just imagine myself wearing sandals and a geisha looking over at the surrounding buildings like I owned the place.......

malta chinese garden
View from the terrace
malta chinese garden
Side View of the Pond

Just as I was feeling all important something in the pond caught my attention.  I was brought back to reality, and I quickly grabbed my camera.  I came face to face with the true owner of the pond. A turtle jutted it head out just in time for me to grab a quick shot of it before it disappeared once again underwater.  Dragonflies were also present here, but they were too quick for me. I was completely mellowed down, and couldn't face up to the challenge of chasing them around to get a shot.

malta turtle
Quick shot of a turtle swimming in the pond

Moving on behind the Main Hall another garden presents itself in a maze of hedges and pathways.  I came across what seems to be a Maltese Everlasting.  This is another plant which is endemic to Malta, and I was glad that I found it here because I never came across it in the wild.

malta chinese garden
Butterflies seem to love this plant

malta chinese garden
Maltese Everlasting?

One plant that is dominant in this garden, and is typical in Maltese gardens everywhere is the Lantana plant.  I came across hedges of the classic red and yellow flowered variety as well as bushes with pink flowers which are not as common.  It is a blessing that they chose this particular plant because butterflies were plentiful, and added to the serenity of the place.

malta chinese garden
Winding pathway leading away from the Main Hall

malta pink lantana
Pink Flowered Lantana Bush

Another plant which was also plentiful in this garden, and is also a common attraction in Maltese public gardens and households is the Hibiscus plant.  The flowers were rather wilted from the June heat, but I was able to get a picture just the same.

malta pink hibiscus
Pink Hibiscus Flower

As I was walking amongst the hedges I could hear the crackling of leaves as little critters moved about in the foliage.  I came across one of them, and managed to get a shot just before it noticed me, and disappeared from sight in a split second.  Lizards are plentiful in Malta, and you can find them wherever there is a spot in the sun.  Summer is their prime time, and they enjoy nothing better than to lay in the sun all day waiting for some unsuspecting insect to come along.

malta lizard
Lizard basking in the morning sun

Finally it was time to leave this peaceful place.  As I headed out I came across a trailing Lantana plant with yellow flowers.   There were so many butterflies on this plant I just stood there enjoying the moment as they flew from one flower to the next, going on with their business, completely ignoring my presence.

malta yellow lantana
Butterfly on the trailing Lantana

This is definitely a place to visit with a good book, and some time on your hands.  It is a place worthy of its name. As you sit by the pond overlooking the beautiful surroundings, you cannot help but feeling a sense of peace and serenity.


  1. It looks fascinating. I hate battling thru hordes to see a garden.

  2. a superb tour with some surprises - the pebble mosaic and especially the zig-zag bridge. Crossing does not have to be a straight line and this hybrid of two cultures proves that. Lovely Lantana

  3. Walking through this garden must have been like unwrapping gifts one by one. And no crowds, how wonderful. I don't know anything about Malta so it was fun to visit. Thanks for visitng my blog and picking my post.

  4. We don't get to have that many crowds in gardens here unless there is something going on, like a festival or concert. Carolyn I'm glad I could show you a glimpse of our island, even though it was a Chinese garden :)

  5. Graziella - I am commenting on your hardscape photo from your interest in my garden photography post at Gardening Gone Wild.

    In many photo opportunities we DO overlook the hardscape, sometimes for obvious reasons that the plant combinations are too exquisite to worry about incorporating the hardscape. But whenever we can bring in the hardscape it will help a viewer, who is otherwise unfamiliar with the garden, to recognize the photo as being in a garden and provide some scale and reference. The Malta gardens are all about the hardscape as you well recognize. The first picture you show does suffer from the harsh light which was unavoidable I assume. (Could you have re-taken this same photo later in the day perhaps ?) Even so you might have darkened the photo in your computer, and the composition itself would be improved if you were not so dead straight on. Look for a composition that has a 1/3/ and 2/3 balance. Perhaps getting lower to the ground in this photo would have helped move the attention to the building. or simply try to cropping out the lower 1/3 to create a little imbalance