The Taiping Lake Gardens was originally a mining ground before it was established as a public garden in 1880. The idea of a public garden was the brainchild of Colonel Robert Sandilands Frowd Walker. The garden was developed by Charles Compton Reade (1880–1933), who was also responsible for planning the Kuala Lumpur garden town, together with Lady Swettenham.
The abandoned tin mine ground was donated by Chung Thye Phin as a recreation park for public use. In 1884 the gardens were planted with grasses, flowers, and trees; a part of the gardens was fenced, to keep bulls out.
The 64 hectares (160 acres) site was the first public garden in Malaya, and was cherished for its beauty; it has been well-maintained since its opening. There are ten scenic lakes and ponds, which highlight the gardens. Along Residency Road, near the gardens, were golden rain trees (Malay: Samanea saman) or hujan-hujan (pterocarpus indicus) planted along the pathway. In George L. Peet’s A Journal in the Federal Capital, when he visited Taiping in 1933 he said “I know of no more lovely sight in this country than the Taiping gardens when the rays of the early morning sun are shining obliquely through their clumps of bamboo, palms and isolated trees scattered on islands among the expanse of water. One receives in that glorious half hour an experience of light in foliage that is quite unobtainable in England”.