HOUSE plants, potted flowers and all things natural are having a moment as Malaysians discover their inner gardener during lockdown.

But for Sharon Lee Chee Wee, booty from the jungle has been a lifelong passion, and also her profession.

Like a true daughter of the earth, she especially enjoys working with native plants and indigenous elements in her
creative and unique designs.

“I use plants native to the area,” explained the Sarawak-based landscape creator.

“I stand for the principle of creatively using more locally available materials, rather than imported ones like stones from other countries.”

It’s about bringing nature nearer to the doorstep, she adds.

For instance, Sharon has been working with a Malaysian native plant, Dipterocarp, that grows wild in tropical rainforests.

Although some are facing extinction, she hopes to protect endangered varieties by cultivating more and including them in her designs.

However, there are setbacks as the species grows slower in an urban area compared to its natural habitat in the forest. She has to plant creatively, for the species to survive.

The “modern naturalist” also insists on environment-friendly materials for her projects.

She described a residence she worked on where she introduced a “Green Sanctuary” theme.

“I used more indigenous plants and local materials such as concrete with a bare finish and bricks,” said the graduate in landscape architecture.

Love for landscape

About 19 years ago, Sharon’s keen interest to transform or shape landscapes inspired her to specialise in the field.

“Initially, it started solely for
the purpose of obtaining a degree,” said the parks and urban space designer.

However, her interest in landscape planning and design grew as she worked under her late mentor, Robbert van Nauhuys.

“Landscape design principles do not only apply in my professional life but also in my personal life as well, especially in dealing with day-to-day life,” revealed Sharon.

She founded her own firm, Urbanscape Consultants 10 years ago and has since been
designing for residential and commercial clients, and public institutions, parks and landmark areas in Sarawak.

The mission, Sharon explains, is to create beautiful spaces where the owners or the public can enjoy the “manicured” environment.

Stay-at-home gardening

The lockdown has created new home gardeners who are getting their hands dirty and trying to beautify their environment, whether it’s a small space like a balcony, plot, patio or a sprawling garden.