I had the rare honour of a private visit to Dr Thomas’ prize-winning garden and house last night, after work. Although I was exhausted by a long day’s worth of work at the lab, I was energised the moment when I stepped into his sprawling garden. It was getting dark very quickly at that time. While there was still some light, I quickly fished out my camera to snap some of the sights that caught my eyes.
Welcome to a “Jungle” in the “City in a Garden”.
Stepping beyond the gates of his home, one would feel as if he had walked into a jungle. Dr Thomas is well known for his love for forest trees and in his garden, he has planted hundreds of trees, big and small, in a rather random manner to replicate the way the tropical rainforest grows. Although there are so many different trees, he still knows where and what are his trees that have been planted. I am not surprised. This is just a sign of a serious man, passionately at work. The trees in Dr Thomas’ garden were bought, some as saplings and seedlings from a nursery specialising at growing forest trees from seeds.
I like the work of Dr Thomas of trying to replant a forest. He is trying to plant back whatever we have lost in this urban jungle in Singapore where concrete buildings grow and spread at a faster pace than our green plants. I think, with such a garden, Dr Thomas is actually doing conservation work and may help to save a couple of tree species that may become wiped out later due to urbanisation that is taking place at rocket speed around the region.
These garden lights are products of Dr Thomas’ creative mind and hands.
After seeing Dr Thomas’ garden, I felt that Monty Don’s compliments for me that can be found in the book written on the BBC TV series, Around the World in 80 Gardens, better described Dr Thomas’ garden as one that is “a beacon of individuality, courage and bloody-mindedness”.
“Dr Thomas’ jungle-themed garden would be undoubtedly the best and most remarkable thing in Singapore. It is filled with the passion and enthusiasm of one individual bucking the corporate blandness that engulfs the rest of the city.” I felt that these sentences from the same book, slightly amended to reflect Dr Thomas’ garden, certainly fit in very well more than my own community garden. His garden has everything that is essential to a garden. It has soul, character and that personal human touch.
The pond located inside the house with lots of fish.
Another look of the pond from the roof-top.
The pond is beautifully lit up by lights that have been cleverly engineered and placed around it at night.
Dr Thomas is a sincere man. I was touched by his gesture where he actually went through the trouble to prepare for the dinner the day before. He treated us to two dishes – one is a national Burmese noodle dish called Mohinga while another was a Kerala specialty, made from rice that cannot be obtained anywhere in the world. Great hospitality and culinary skills.
It was a night to remember because I have met an admirable, great person who is truly multi-talented. In addition to his ability to heal people as a doctor, Dr Thomas is also a great gardener, landscaper, naturalist, chef and artist. I have lots to learn from him.