22 Sep2010


I generally dislike most malls. I find them a necessary evil in the quest to shop for something I want or need. Most malls, in my opinion, are ugly and unappealing. Glorified cement boxes with airconditioned hallways. I would be especially scathing about malls in the Philippines, with only a few exceptions. You have to pay for parking, the malls are filled with crowds (many of whom are out for paseo, why not, with free airconditioning), the stores are sometimes poorly stocked, etc. Perhaps I am just old-fashioned in that I prefer to stroll streets which are designated predominantly for retail shops… and while Manila has few such areas that remain, other parts of tropical Asia still do have interesting streetscapes in addition to malls. In temperate countries, there are wonderful “shopping streets” or neighborhoods in many of the world’s frequently visited cities. So it was a wickedly PLEASANT SURPRISE to spend an hour or two in the Stanford Mall near Stanford University in Palo Alto, California recently. I have NEVER seen a mall that invested so much in the plants and flowering shrubs and bushes all around this wonderful outdoor mall.


And I don’t mean a plant box here and there. This was full on dozens and dozens of plant boxes, in the ground planting strips, garden areas, etc. It was wonderful. I didn’t buy anything at the mall, I spent all my time taking snapshots of the foliage! Mrs. MM and The Teen were in the shops and with temperatures in the mid-70’s, it was my idea of a perfect hour or two at a “mall”… Up top, peach or champagne colored rose bushes were blooming in profusion outside Armani exchange… Nearby a beautiful mix of colors from chartreuse to pink, lavender and white zinnias, geraniums, dahlias, and flowers I am not familiar with…


Huge blooms of “hanging” hydrangeas in green, pink, purple and white…


Outside bloomingdale’s were water fountains and ponds, pots of flowers I don’t know the names of…


Near the well organized and FREE parking lots were a riot of color from waist to chest high zinnias and dahlias in peach, orange apricot, and pumpkin.


I spied the gardeners’ maintenance truck with more seedlings that they were planting to ensure continuous blooming throughout the months. Even in the parking lots, planting strips were being maintained and re-planted.


I particularly liked the “randomness” or apparent “randomness” of the plantings, evoking the feel of a backyard garden. But I am almost certain this was NOT a random kind of thing. Someone with a great eye and a love of plants plotted out exactly where and what should be planted. The mix of colors was inspiring. Not heavy, so uplifting.


I have no idea what these were, but they were voluptuous, to say the least.


It would to fair to say that each new plantbox was like discovering a new painting…


…and each close-up made you stop and think and MARVEL at the details of nature. Color, proportion, texture, composition.


I wasn’t sure if the lure of 600 count linens at Frette was more appealing than the enormous white blooms of hydrangeas just outside their shop…


And in other areas, bolder, louder and more impertinent flowers screamed at you to take notice.


Reds and yellows…


…feathery lavenders or light violet…


…truly a pleasant feast for the eyes and soul. We had lunch at the mall, and later that afternoon returned for some cupcakes and groceries, but the flowers left a lasting impression. Definitely one of the nicest displays at a retail mall I have ever seen.


And as a bonus, a local artisan had HUNDREDS of his hand-blown glass pumpkins on display and for sale on the grounds of the mall. Ranging from $30-500, the pieces were spectacular in their diversity of color, shape, size, patterns, designs, etc. What a treat!



  1. natie says:

    oh, how dazzling! most malls here just have the petunias, begonias or impatiens, but those are spectacular!

    the pink vines are Mandevillas. they also come in white, and other colors.

    Sep 22, 2010 | 10:05 am


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  3. jo says:

    hehehe is that so Market Man, but I heart malls and I heart this blog!

    Sep 22, 2010 | 10:16 am

  4. Melanie says:

    Welcome back, MM. You’re right about the great maintenance the Stanford Mall gives its surroundings. I’ve been there during different seasons of the year and I was always impressed. Then again, how much they must spend compared to the budget our malls here give to plants!!! If only ours bothered to keep lush even low-maintenance foliage plants, right?
    Keep posting, MM!!

    Sep 22, 2010 | 10:36 am

  5. Mila says:

    That they let you take photos is another good thing. Market! Market! security will tell you that taking photos of the exterior isn’t allowed. Not that there is much to photograph, but a friend was ticked off when he was told not to photograph the mall’s grounds.

    Sep 22, 2010 | 11:10 am

  6. cora says:

    it is one of my favorite malls here in the bay area and the garden inspires me on what to
    plant in my backyard…..and yes, they are the pink mandevillas and blooms well during summer! i’m sure you also went to look around at the williams sonoma store and tried the
    la baguette and enjoyed cupcakes at sprinkles.

    Sep 22, 2010 | 1:20 pm

  7. ami says:

    Are the glass pumpkins purely for display? Is it an american thing wherein they display those during thanksgiving?

    I remember being charmed by the garden in the middle of Bal Harbour Shops in Florida. It was tropical, lush and exotic given that you’re in the US and not somewhere like Brazil or the Philippines.

    Sep 22, 2010 | 4:24 pm

  8. joy says:

    Beautiful pictures. Haven’t gone to this mall in a long time. Will persuade the hubby to go with me one of these weekends.

    Sep 22, 2010 | 4:33 pm

  9. Lemons and Anchovies (Jean) says:

    What a small world! I live less than five miles from the Stanford Shopping Center. It’s a beautiful one indeed. Just got back less than 24 hours ago from a long trip and I’ve been thinking a visit to Stanford might be in order. Glad you enjoyed your time in my neck of the woods!

    Sep 22, 2010 | 6:10 pm

  10. chinky says:

    There was a strip mall in Oakbrook, IL filled huge plantboxes with lots and lots of tulips in a single color per plantbox during springtime—beautiful!

    Sep 22, 2010 | 7:12 pm

  11. Divine G. says:

    Chinky, did you see it when they planted all red tulips near the fountain it was beautiful.
    They change the plants when they are starting to die so you will see beautiful flowers and plants the whole year even in the dead of winter. Like you will see all white tulips near the Water Tower in tulip season then change it to white begonias when the tulips die. Now there are different colored mums around. That is why the landscapers and plant stores here will always have a job.

    Sep 22, 2010 | 8:09 pm

  12. Thel says:

    Thank you very much! Truly appreciate this post as I love, love, love flowers. I designed my newly built home with a 12′ X 13′ foyer and I filled it with plants and flowers.

    Sep 22, 2010 | 11:23 pm

  13. jannah says:

    nice post. beautiful flowers. lovely pictures.

    Sep 22, 2010 | 11:36 pm

  14. Meg says:

    MM, these are indeed lovely, I was in this exact place, the Stanford Mall, last July to bring a friend from Canada. This place including the University itself is a must to visit ang bring your guest. I was also magnetized by those lovely blooms, and I can also tell you that they made me bring out my camera, and did a lot of clicking. But I cannot skip the Louie Vitton and Burberry items though.

    Sep 22, 2010 | 11:55 pm

  15. carinae says:

    Oh…didn’t know you were in my part of the world. My husband and I go here frequently with our dog because it’s dog friendly. It’s perfect because we can eat outdoors at Max’s and have our dog at our feet. We love the fact that a lot of the stores have bowls of water out for our little Rex. :D

    Hope you enjoy your time here. If you have a chance and if it’s still open (and if you haven’t been there yet), visit the Filoli Gardens. They are best known as being the Dynasty house.

    My husband’s gotten some lovely shots of flowers from there.


    Sep 23, 2010 | 12:09 am

  16. Lava Bien says:

    Palo Alto, nice big houses, lots of beautiful people jogging/runningaround. We love spending time here. We do activities at Stanford University TKD with Master Tim Ghormley for either Winter or Spring scrimmage. You ought to check out their pool during hotter days hehehehehe hot women, yeah baby!!!

    Sep 23, 2010 | 12:43 am

  17. atbnorge says:

    I love flowers; I hate malls, LOLZ!

    Sep 23, 2010 | 12:56 am

  18. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Glad you enjoyed! I despise malls as well. But, when I do need to go, I do most of my shopping at Stanford. The atmosphere is most relaxed compared to other malls in this part of the Bay Area. While you enjoy the foliage, I tend to partake in the architecture as it remains pretty faithful to the original. The mall I believe was established in the late ’50s. I’m unsure of the style of the architecture, but its consistent of the time period. That’s my interest in local history. The cupcake place is relative new comer, replacing a former noodle house. Hope you were able to see more of the surrounding area despite your short stay.

    Sep 23, 2010 | 12:59 am

  19. KUMAGCOW says:

    Let’s just be happy too that they have sky garden here. It could have been worse you know LOL

    Sep 23, 2010 | 1:59 am

  20. eric says:

    “back to normal” rear view shot of MM?

    good news.


    Sep 23, 2010 | 3:22 am

  21. Pinky Rose says:

    Hi, Mr. MM,
    I just wonder what brought you into my (almost) neck of the woods. If you’re just in Palo Alto (Stanford U) you’re about 75 miles from where I live. Due to your posting above, I have decided to go there this weekend and check it out myself. I’m very much into flowers and gardens myself besides food, cooking, baking etc. If you’re still in this area, why don’t you check out the “FILOLI” mansion in Woodside. FILOLI stands for Fight, Love and Live. Here’s their website – http://www.filoli.org

    Sep 23, 2010 | 4:19 am

  22. eej says:

    Glad you enjoyed your stay in the Bay Area. Come back more often and pretty soon you’ll be singing along with the rest of us; I left my heart in San Francisco…

    Sep 23, 2010 | 4:23 am

  23. irma says:

    Hi MM,

    Thanks for making me appreciate how beautiful and pleasant it is to shop at the
    Stanford Mall with their gorgeous botanical display.I sort of take it for granted
    because I go there a lot.Next time,I will definitely “stop and smell the flowers”.
    Stunning photographs ,by the way.

    Sep 23, 2010 | 8:32 am

  24. Jenny says:

    “You have to pay for parking, the malls are filled with crowds (many of whom are out for paseo, why not, with free airconditioning)” — MM, if it were free parking then expect more crowds plus! imagine all those office workers who will be parking their cars in the nearby malls – no more slots for the “real shoppers”!

    Sep 23, 2010 | 9:11 am

  25. Marketman says:

    Jenny, it’s relatively easy to put a minimum purchase for free parking rule in. In other words, if you spend PHP2,000 at the grocery or PHP1,000 worth at any other establishment, then you get free parking. Then INCREASE the fees for those who want to otherwise use the parking facilities with no intention of buying anything at the mall. Parking is a necessary requirement in most mall developments abroad. We simply fail at the notion of developing our cities properly. Either more public parking or each building must provide parking is the ideal situation… or better public transportation so not everyone has to ride a car to the mall. Besides, malls in the middle of the city are nightmares on their own. They tax city streets, sewage, electricity, etc. Malls should ideally be OUTSIDE city centers in my opinion unless they are able to mitigate all of those issues. Again, with better thought, city planners could have determined where best to place malls so as not to screw up the flow of pedestrians, traffic, etc. I think if Mega mall weren’t were it is, traffic on that part of Edsa wouldn’t be such a nightmare. :)

    Sep 23, 2010 | 11:08 am

  26. lalaine says:

    totally agree with MM about the malls in the Phils. imagine. you have to pay for parking??? to think they will be earning from you anyway. and i also find it extremely irritating that NON-purchasing people are crowding the way of PURCHASING people in the mall.m slowly becoming an ebay junkie tuloy :) but of course it’s nice still to go out in the malls without the massive pandemonium.

    Sep 23, 2010 | 11:40 am

  27. tintin says:

    going to malls make me dizzy, specially with all the lights.. di ko keri.. but this post sure made my jaws dropped in awe! ang ganda! thanks for sharing this MM.

    Sep 23, 2010 | 11:53 am

  28. Marketfan says:

    Beautiful! I like the pink voluptous ones the best.

    Sep 23, 2010 | 11:58 am

  29. David B Katague says:

    As an avid gardener in the Philippines, the pictures of the begonias and petunias reminds me of my hibiscus, euphorbias and bougainvillas collections in my garden at Chareau Du Mer in Boac, Marinduque. Makes me want to visit the Standford Mall just to see the flowers, but that is about 3 hours drive from my house here in Sacramento. Any way, I enjoyed your photos very much! Have a Good Day! David

    Sep 23, 2010 | 1:41 pm

  30. Eden says:

    You were in my hood! I also enjoy The surroundings of Stanford Mall. … and the university nearby. Stanford U has the largest Rodin sculpture collection … the Cantor museum… which I love. I am glad you enjoyed your visit to the Bay Area.

    Sep 23, 2010 | 1:57 pm

  31. chloe says:

    Palo Alto- nice place! A relative of mine brought me there twice or thrice. I also love the hand blown glass pumpkins- reminds me of my favourite time/season of the year— Fall!

    Sep 23, 2010 | 2:37 pm

  32. Blaise says:

    I wish that instead of malls, we would have parks here in Manila. A well-maintained, and well-planted park.

    Sep 23, 2010 | 3:23 pm

  33. Jaimie says:

    They have lovely outdoor seating and free wifi throughout the mall.

    Sep 23, 2010 | 3:25 pm

  34. Onlysecond says:

    what i hate in Philippine malls is the absence of toilet paper in the stalls. i mean, how cheap are these millionaire mall owners?!

    i was just in taipei recently and had to stop myself from hoarding tp wherever i went, belatedly and happily realizing that tp was freely available whether in malls, restaurants and even mrt station restrooms!

    Sep 23, 2010 | 4:55 pm

  35. Alisa says:

    Lovely photos MM! If only there was smell-o-vision so I could take a whiff from these flowers!

    Sep 23, 2010 | 11:28 pm

  36. ariel says:

    and I was at Stanford Clinic that day for my monthly appointment, I could have seen MM.

    Sep 24, 2010 | 12:41 am

  37. angelbride says:

    I love, love flowers! Thank you MM for sharing.

    Sep 24, 2010 | 2:05 am

  38. JanJan says:

    Aww, you made me homesick! That’s the mall I used to pal around with my girlfriends at during high school and junior high. I love their poppies in the spring – huge, papery blossoms of a confetti of colors. You never know how lucky you are until someone else sees it with fresh eyes! Thank you.

    Sep 24, 2010 | 3:54 am

  39. Maria Lee says:

    The break is doing you good MM. You’ve not only stopped and smelled the flowers but the innate giver in you wanted to share your colorful finds. Thanks – these were beautiful!

    Sep 24, 2010 | 2:40 pm

  40. Irene says:

    The flowers at the Stanford Mall are part of the thrill of going there. Even if I don’t purchase anything, I just love seeing all the flowers in bloom and how different all the planters are each time I go. My young children (age 4 and 1) don’t mind that Stanford doesn’t have a kiddie playground, as they love the fountains, the hummingbirds and the flowers. Whenever family visits from the PI, I love to take them to Stanford. And now that I’ve seen your pictures, I see the glass pumpkins are back. I just might take a trip there tomorrow.

    Sep 25, 2010 | 12:34 pm

  41. chinachix says:

    The flowers are gorgeous! It’s been a while, but I remember being blown away when I visited this mall for the first time in the 90s. I suspect this was the inspiration for when Alabang Town Center was built much later….

    Sep 25, 2010 | 11:01 pm

  42. Betchay says:

    I agree with China chix—most probably the model for ATC.That’s why I love going to ATC, it has a different ambience from the regular boxed mall!
    Love the flowers MM!

    Sep 26, 2010 | 7:16 am

  43. Kat-I says:

    Wow! This is so nice. thanks for sharing, MM! :D

    Sep 26, 2010 | 4:27 pm

  44. bagito says:

    already scouting colleges for The Teen this early, MM? ;-)

    Sep 27, 2010 | 11:03 am

  45. ricky gonzalez says:

    stanford mall is one of the upscale malls in the Bay Area, too expensive for me though, so ended up at the Great Mall in Milpitas and the Mc Carthy ranch opposite 880. Must say the economy has taken its toll on retail shops in American, too many closed shops.

    Even the outlet shop at Gilroy, had several outfits closed. It looked so barren from the 101.

    Oct 8, 2010 | 6:13 am


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