A backdrop of mountain greenery

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2009, 12:00am

One word springs to mind when you look out at the view that graces the back of Kerry Properties' luxury developments in the Mid-Levels. That word is green.

Green because it is the dominant colour of the dramatic backdrop of verdant woodland which stretches up the slopes of The Peak behind.

Green also because of the healthy lifestyle the residents, who choose to live there, can look forward to enjoying.

But the real beauty is that this stunning piece of green natural forest is not just a view. It is also accessible and a place which residents living nearby can experience and enjoy.

The developments on Tregunter Path and May Road are just minutes away from the Old Peak Road which is now a trail that meanders up the tree-covered hillside to The Peak.

In the early days of the 20th century, when the rich and elite first took up residence on The Peak, this was the route that connected their luxury homes to the bustling city below.

In those days, before cars, they were ferried up the steep slopes of Old Peak Road in rickshaws and sedan chairs. Today, the people you are most likely to encounter along the old road are hikers, joggers and people taking leisurely strolls with their dogs.

It takes less than 30 minutes to walk the length of Old Peak Road as it winds through densely foliated woodland containing a rich variety of trees, creeping vines and plant life.

Here you will find an abundance of trees and plants native to Hong Kong, such as the tall elegant swaying stems of bamboo, the Chinese banyan with its dangling aerial roots, the Chinese fan palm tree and the Giant Alocasia plant with its huge elephant-ear-shaped leaves.

However, amid them, there is also an abundance of non-native plants and trees. Some of these were introduced by the British, brought in from other parts of the empire at a time when the gentry were turning their attention to nature and horticulture.

One such tree, the camphor tree, with its insect repellent properties and its dense canopy of foliage which provides perfect shade, was introduced to Hong Kong in the early 20th century.

Others, including varieties of pine from North America and Australasia, were planted to shore up the hillside and protect residences from landslides after the second world war during which many trees were cut down by the occupying Japanese forces.

Not surprisingly, this lush environment provides the ideal home for insects, colourful butterflies and even the odd grey squirrel - another species introduced by the British.

The soaring trees also provide a roosting spot for species of fruit bat and a wide variety of birds, including a healthy population of cockatoos with yellow crests.

One story claims cockatoos came to Hong Kong from Australia as pets of the gentry who released them into the wild when they were forced to leave their homes after the Japanese invaded. There the birds thrived and flourished to become a regular sight and sound in parks and gardens.

You can also find evidence of Hong Kong's past on the trail in the form of Victorian style street lamps and an old Victoria City stone boundary marker, one of six erected in 1903 by the government to mark the boundaries of the old city of Victoria.

To the residents who live close by, this trail is the ideal respite from the city: a natural garden in which to exercise.

In keeping with this unique natural environment, the residences created by Kerry Properties on Tregunter Path and May Road boast lush gardens planted with palms, ferns and colourful flowers which in places appear as natural as the wild garden that lies beyond.