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Gardens by the Bay – Preview!

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

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Many would know that Singapore has a big garden project underway and more recently two glass structures can be spotted right opposite of the Singapore Flyer. That’s right! Gardens by the Bay is a massive project which took several years to complete. The highlights are the two giant cool houses and its signature ‘Supertrees’ structures where creepers and bromeliads provide the lush greenery over its metal structures.

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With the 20th World Orchid Convention event in Marina Bay Sands, visitors are entitled preview passes to one of the new coolhouses at Gardens by the Bay, which is conveniently connected to one of Singapore’s two integrated resorts. Flower Dome and Cloud Forest were the names given to the two coolhouses. Flower Dome, which was opened for the preview, provides a cool-dry environment, was home to the Mediterranean and semi arid plants, such as colourful Geraniums and tall date palms and Baobab trees.

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While there were permanent plants in the Flower Dome, there is a big area sufficient to hold world class flower shows and displays, which will mean that more spectacular temperate plants can be showcased in tropical Singapore!

The entire setting changed in the evenings at the coolhouse. Coloured lights light up the area, provides a whole new experience of exploring plants. There were also dimmer  corners and can be as romantic where you can stay in dim, cool ambience overlooking the Singapore Flyer and the Marina Bay waterfront!

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The Gardens by the Bay will be officially opened in June 2012, where you can visit the coolhouses again and not forgetting the awesome outdoor grounds around the super trees!

Breadfruit harvest!

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Recently I followed one of my gardening comrades to harvest some fruits from a nearby primary school. It turned out to be Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) we are going after. A close cousin to the common Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), Breadfruit is used for culinary purposes. When cooked, it gives out a hint of aroma similar to freshly baked bread, which gives the name of the plant.

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The tree was tall, more than 5 metres, was bearing more than 20 fruits, were quite a challenge to us.  Some of the fruits were really high up and out of our reach. The mature fruits were the size of a basketball, and cutting them from below worry us that we might need helmets! The leaves are big, and deeply cut into pinnate lobes and the stalk of the fruit was too thick to use a stick to knock them off.

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We have to use a pole cutter, to reach for the higher fruits, and it took us more than an hour just to collect 5 fruits! When cut, the tree excretes its sap, which was used by the native Hawaiians as glue to catch birds.

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The entire experience was exciting, harvesting fruits after years of maintenance and care was something gratifying and hard to describe…

Vertical Gardening with Recyclables!

November 12, 2011 2 comments

I was in Jurong Primary School this morning where I was greeted with walls of greenery! Vertical gardening has been a popular form of growing greens here in Singpore as many of us do not have the space and luxury of growing plants on the ground.

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What truly amazed me is the entire set up of the vertical garden. It was made with CD racks from IKEA and bottles cut into gardening pots! The idea was great! Using recyclables and low cost, you can actually own a vertical garden!  Even the bottles chosen were green in colour and secured by just cable ties.

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The elaborate set up was innovative, having two CD racks installed over each other, and bottles are supported by the pivoting action which create the slightly slanted area suitable for growing plants!

 

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There were more than 50 rows of bottles and hundreds of plastic bottles were used and the entire wall was filled with greenery. The teachers told me that this wall actually helps to reduce the room temperature by a few degrees! Wow this is just too awesome…

Gardening is not really just about growing plants, it is also about beautifying places with greenery and innovative ideas can really bring gardening to places you never thought it will be!

Singapore Garden Festival 2010

The Singapore Garden Festival is back again for the 3rd time! One of the largest gardening events in gardening, the festival showcases stunning theme gardens by the world’s finest landscapers. Plants from all over the world are gathered here, giving us a glimpse of some plants which we can never grow them in the tropical climate.

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The festival occupies 4th and 6th levels of Suntec Convention Centre. Level 6 exhibition hall houses the landscape designs, lights and music creates the wonderful ambience as you walked around the exhibits. Unlike many of the flower and garden shows, Singapore Garden Festival is held indoors, fully air-conditioned and away from the tropical heat which may shortened the plants’ moment of glory.

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Level 4 is the home of the orchids. Singapore Orchid Show not only showcases locally grown orchids, but also other species from other countries like Papua New guinea and Taiwan. There are also rare orchids all the way from South America which many of the serious gardeners dream to own one of them.

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Also community gardening takes up a fair area of the exhibition hall, showcasing gardens done up by hobbyists who gathered together in their neighbourhood to do gardening. Although not as spectacular as the theme gardens, community gardens have large varieties of plants which many will enjoy growing. Gardeners are also there to provide gardening tips and share their gardening experiences with the public.

And of course the market place, not only local nurseries have brought beautiful plants for sale, but also foreign nurseries which promoted plants which are suitable to grow in our climate. Apart from plants, gardening hardware and hardscapes are also sold in the marketplace. The highlight of the market place is the garden supermarket! Not only did the supermarket sell veggies and fruits, it also put up a display of the fruiting plants and vegetables. The elaborate set up has many varieties of plants which bear fruits which the public can get up close to.

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The Singapore Garden Festival is not only an event to showcase stunning gardens and rare plants, but also to promote gardening and educate the public that growing plants can be exciting and rewarding regardless of age, gender and knowledge!

Breadfruit…

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is a tropical tree which can grow to a height of 20 metres. They are grown for their fruits. When cooked, these fruits taste like freshly baked bread, hence its name Breadfruit, which are used to make many traditional dishes.It is very widely used in the Pacific Island region and believed that the plants are exported by the early Polynesian voyagers.

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Not only the fruits are edible, other parts of the plants have its uses. The sap is used by the native Hawaiians to trap birds and the wood pulp can be processed into paper, also known as breadfruit tapa. Currently these plants can be found commonly in South East Asia.

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The leaves are large and lobed and the fruits have tough skin with hexagon shapes, resembling another closely related tropical fruit, jackfruit. Both male and female flowers are found on the same tree and pollination is usually carried out by birds and bats.

The unique shape of the leaves and the wide range of uses of the entire plant makes it a very educational plant to grow in community gardens! It is not a fussy plant and can take many soil types. Do aware that it is a tree and ample space is needed!

The Rojak flower…

March 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Have you ever wonder what’s the crispy pink petals found in the Singapore delicacy, Rojak? Rojak is a traditional fruit and vegetable salad consists of cucumber, pineapple, turnip, fried tofu and Chinese fried fritters mixed with a sweet and thick peanut sauce.  In the Rojak food stall, you may find bunches of unopened pink flowers. Singaporeans called these the Rojak flower.

IMG_2015Torch Ginger Flower 

In fact, these flowers come from a ginger plant commonly known as Torch Ginger (Etlingera elatior). The name  is derived from the appearance of the opened flowers to a flaming torch. However, this plant may be too big to be grown in the balcony! They comes in a few colours, the most common is pink in colour, and the uncommon and harder to grow will be those flowers in either white or red colour.

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Many more emerging flowers

Although the petiole and leaves can grow to a height of 2 metres, the flowers are usually found near the ground. My gardeners cut these opened flowers and use them as cut flowers in the office. They told me that these flowers can last for quite a while, around two weeks!

Chinese New Year Nursery trip

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

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Every Chinese New Year, my family and I will visit many nurseries around Singapore to view and buy some festive plants for the celebrations. As Chinese believe that 花开富贵, which means blossoms will bring luck and happiness to the family, many festive plants are flowering plants and exclusive to this period of the year.

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                           Cockscomb                                                                          Tulips

As many will know, red is the festive colour for Chinese New Year and red flowering plants are the among the favourites. The usual cockscomb plant, Celosia cristata is a traditional plant which many will buy and also the newly introduced red tulips! Azalea is also prized for their red or pink flowers which bloom in great quantities, covering the entire plant!

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                                  Azalea                                                                   Hydrangea  

Other flowering plants which  are popular during this season include peach blossoms and Hydrangeas. Their blooms are extremely attractive and unique which make them showy houseplants for the season. I have noticed that there isn’t much variety of plants to choose from compared to last year, probably due to the conservative festive flower market after a bad economy downturn.

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However, there are plants which amazed me such as these golden barrel cacti had new hairdos! The spikes are “dyed” with neon colours! Unique but it doesn’t appeal to me as it look unnatural to me.

IMG_2725Wishing everyone Happy Chinese New Year! 

I would like to take this chance to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous Lunar New Year and every success in your future endeavours and gardening! Thanks for all your support the past year!