Thanks to Richmond, my fellow moderator from the Green Culture Singapore discussion forum, for reminding me to turn on and watch what was on the television last night. At 11.30 pm, the Mandarin info-educational series entitled “City Footprints” or “城市.生命线” was being aired every Tuesday night. Each episode features a story of an individual or community in our city that mirrors and reflects how each responds and reacts to the paradigm shifts that occur as a result of rapid social urbanisation.
A segment showing Rosalind working in the garden.
The episode that was aired on 29 Dec 08 focussed its attention on Mrs Rosalind Tan, who is now famously known as “Madame Butterfly” of Alexandra Hospital. She is the person behind the great healing gardens of the hospital which earned it a title called “a hospital in a garden.” As her title suggests, she is best known for her work on setting up the first butterfly garden in a hospital in Singapore with the help from local nature groups. The butterfly garden in Alexandra Hospital is now home to more than a hundred species of butterflies.
She runs a butterfly nursery at home. Rosalind collects the caterpillars she saw at the hospital grounds and brings them home where she rears them until they attain maturity. She then brings the butterflies back to the hospital’s gardens to be released. By doing this, she is able to control the feeding patterns of her caterpillars. If left unchecked in the hospital gardens, caterpillars can defoliate entire populations of plants! Hence it is a daunting task as Rosalind has to painstakingly grow certain butterfly food plants and to ensure there is sufficient supply at all times for her caterpillars.
Rosalind at a gathering of the Singapore Gardening Society.
An avid gardener she is, Rosalind is an active member of the Singapore Gardening Society and in one particular segment of the show featured her with senior members of the society at a gathering held at the hospital. Rosalind explained the ability of the gardening hobby being able to attract people from all walks of life to come together to discuss and share their gardening experiences and plants. As a result of such sharing, each one of us become better gardeners. Rosalind is also ardent supporter of the National Parks Board’s Community in Bloom initiative which promotes community gardening.
Rosalind and Wee Lee both busy with selecting plants for a garden project.
As the old Chinese saying goes, “Behind every successful man, there is a woman.” But in Rosalind’s case, it is the opposite. Mr Tan Wee Lee, who is Rosalind’s lifelong partner and a retired architect has been her pillar of support of sorts. With his professionally trained eyes, he helps Rosalind with her garden landscape design work, photography and choice of plants for her garden projects that she does for both Alexandra Hospital as well as other communities that needed her assistance. Mr Tan also gives the much needed emotional support to Rosalind and understands the heavy commitment she has in her ‘second’ job which she took up after retiring from her earlier, full-time job as a physiotherapist at Alexandra Hospital. What a loving couple!