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Hello, I'm Tialyn
french illustrator based in Quebec, Canada

I invite you to dive into my little universe, and I hope you will enjoy the journey...

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#1 - Gardens and parks illustration world Tour : the Tropical Spice Garden - Penang

Dernière mise à jour : 31 déc. 2022

As I told you recently, I decided to challenge myself by starting an illustrated series of inspiring parks and botanical gardens around the world. And now it is time to reach the first leg of the journey which takes us to South East Asia...

Close your eyes and let's travel to Malaysia (it is a long journey from Quebec - more than 14 000 km away !). The place we are going today is located on the northwest coast of the Peninsular Malaysia, facing Malacca Strait and Sumatra : Penang island.


Pulau Penang is a great island to visit.

A place where you can find deep rainforest and white sand beaches just a few miles away from the city is always a good choice, and this one is perfect !

I traveled there with my family about 10 years ago and we had the chance to visit a hidden heaven, a magical garden, nested on the north shore of the island: The Tropical Spice Garden.

I chose this particular place to be the first leg on my illustrated journey because it is unique so different from any other garden you will visit anywhere else.

This place enchanted me so much than 10 years later I still recall it as a piece of paradise on earth.


This very special garden is a rainforest sanctuary located in an ancient rubber plantation in the heart of a natural formed valley on the north shore of Penang. It is a spice garden within a rainforest, a place of tranquility to awake your senses.


The very first thing you see is the rainforest, dense, intense, deeply green and fantastically overwhelming. It hosts hundreds of species of flora and fauna from Malaysia : a huge collection of Malaysian endemic palm trees (if you think palms trees are all the same you will be really amazed), heliconias, pinang trees, taccas, luteas, ferns, spathiphyllums, lianas, gingers, etc... if you are a big fan of tropical plants you will be delighted, and if you like drawing them it's just a paradise on earth.


Malaysia and Malacca Strait were very important locations on the spice route for centuries. The spice trade is part of Penang history.

For this reason the garden owners decided to showcase this gorgeous heritage by dedicating the place to spices.

Cloves, nutmeg, peppercorn, curry leaves, lemongrass, gingers, star anis, cinnamon, cardamom... you can find all those fantastic spices in the region.

In the garden you can see them in their natural habitat and learn many things about them.


Choosing to draw such a place was quite a challenge for me:

  • so many plants to draw, how to choose between them ?

  • To illustrate a dense rainforest where visitors are fully immersed in the "big green" is quite unusual (you can hardly see anything but leaves from the bottom looking up and around).

How to suggest depth and perpective with no skyline and very few buildings ?

Anyway, It would not be fun if it was too easy...

I soon decided that one illustration could not be enough, and I chose for this first one to focus on the rainforest aspects of the garden (the spices definitely deserve their own illustration... coming soon).

To be honest I did several tries before I decided to go with acrylic gouache + pencils + smallest details on the tablet. The first ones were not a big success but it is part of the process to try and lose some (many) times before you come up with something close to what you are looking for.


  1. To impart the incredible feeling of being a tiny human in the middle of an overwhelming rainforest (we are so small compared to the giant trees !)

  2. To include iconic plants of the garden (I am not a realistic botanical illustrator but I hope they are still identifiable :-)

  3. To include a famous and recognizable focus point of the garden : the big swing (I loved it !).

  4. Not to forget famous inhabitants of the garden : the cute little langurs

There is so much to say about this place, it can only be the beginning.

Drawing it made me feel a bit like I was there again.

If ever you are around Penang don't miss the visit. It is a great way to merge into natural world, and this place offers so much more : workshops, sales, concerts, cooking and drawing classes, yoga courses, camping nights and so much more !

If I was living closer I would go there every week.

To find out more :



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