On the Official Launch of Clean and Green Singapore 2010 on 30 Oct 09 evening, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong handed out awards to six new Community in Bloom Ambassadors. The CIB Ambassadors Award recognizes individuals who have contributed through various means and channels to foster the love for gardening among the people in Singapore. CIB Ambassadors are volunteers with passion, who go the extra mile, to help spread the gardening bug and help others enjoy gardening. They contribute time, effort and/or resources regularly and actively engage with the community to facilitate their gardening-based initiatives.
Community in Bloom Ambassadors for 2009 include (from left) Mdm Kwon Toh, Mr Richmond Tan, Mr Sharif Ahmad Jusof, Prime Minister Lee, Mdm Gina Ong, Mrs Helen Chan, and Mr Albert Quek. These six CIB Ambassadors per year, from the public, private and people sectors.
A brief profile of each CIB Ambassador is given below:
- Mr Albert Quek – Founder and facilitator of Gardening club, Yokogawa Engineering Asia Pte Ltd)
- Mdm Gina Ong Liat Wah – Leader, Laguna Park Condominium Gardening Club
- Mdm Helen Chan Jiat Mui – Teacher & Chairperson Environmental Committee, Telok Kurau Secondary School
- Mdm Kwoh Toh –Member, Jurong Central Zone G RC Community garden
- Mr Richmond Tan – Undergraduate, NTU and moderator of Green Culture Singapore online forum
- Mr Sharif Ahmad Jusof – Leader, Al-Istiqamah Gardening Club
The second edition of National Parks Board’s (NParks) publication “Trees of Our Garden City” was launched on 21 Oct 2009 at the ASEAN Conference on Biodiversity. Dr Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), launched the book at the conference’s welcome dinner.
Dr Djoghlaf, who penned the edition’s foreword, complimented the book and read out an excerpt from its first chapter “Our Garden City Story”, a brief history of tree planting since the founding of Singapore. He was also presented with a signed copy of the book by Mr Tee Swee Ping, the book’s team facilitator and editor.
This book is a must-buy for anyone who is keen in the trees that are part of Singapore’s landscape. Gardeners, horticulturists, teachers and students who want to learn more about the various species of trees commonly planted around Singapore should grab a copy. There is an addition of 70 species of trees and palms to the 80 from the previous edition! Although information on a large number of trees found in the book can be found on the Internet and various books, what I like about this book is that the information you are reading are put into the context and relevance of Singapore.
What I find particularly useful is the inclusion of some self-sown ‘wild trees’ in this edition which include the albizia (Falcataria moluccana), African tulip (Spathodea campanulata), wattle (Acacia auriculiformis), snakewood (Cecropia peltata) and rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) and the reader can now know why these are not or no longer planted by the authorities and are often seen in areas that are disturbed and left alone afterwards.
This second edition of Trees of Our Garden City includes various new chapters such as tree care, function of trees in Singapore, including tree biology and trees and the environment. Many people have always asked me how they should plant a tree in their garden and care for it. I am glad this book has appeared where the public can now refer to it for guidance. Planting a tree involves more than just digging a hole and plonking the sapling into it! Read up the chapter on tree care to know more on the various aspects of growing trees such as tree planting, tree pruning, tree inspection, pests and diseases and tree conservation.
There is also an important chapter for all Singaporeans to read which is the ‘Our Garden City Story’. It details how Singapura was turned into a Garden City in a short span of 190 years! The format of this book is also revamped to make it reader-friendly. The reader can look forward to seeing many colourful photos too. Trees of Our Garden City (2nd edition) can be purchased at the Singapore Botanic Gardens Library Shop, and at major bookstores from the first week of November. Its retail price is $35.
On two days in mid-September, I was asked to be a trainer and demonstrator for container gardening where I will show 2 couples how they can select, combine and display a variety of plants together in a dish garden. The entire process was put on film for a variety programme named “Kata Dulang Paku Serpih” that will be broadcasted on Suria. The filming took place at the Lab at HortPark.
For my demonstration, I used a variety of houseplants with attractive variegated leaves which include the variegated rubber plant (Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Variegata’), red nerve plant (Fittonia verschaffeltii cultivar), English ivy (Hedera helix) and the satin pothos (Scindapsus pictus). To add height and some more colour, I also used two flowering flamingo flower plants (Anthurium andraeanum cultivar) for my work.
The end product of my demonstration resulted in a dish garden shown in the photograph above. I used a container that has been woven out of dried stems for its unique appearance with an interesting texture. The center of attention were the two flamingo flower plants. Below these two plants are shorter plants with variegated foliage to add some splashes of colour to the green leaves of the flamingo flower plants. To soften the look of the container, some trailing English ivy plants were used. This container garden is still looking great and is on display in HortPark’s Lifestyle Corner.
I conceived of four different container gardens for the two couples to choose from. Two were dish gardens based on cacti and succulents. The third one was an Asian culinary herb garden and the last container garden comprise various tropical houseplants. The completed dish gardens are shown in the photograph below.
The aim of making container gardens was to allow partners to show their appreciation for each other. Interviews were done and process of making the container gardens were broadcasted on 14 Oct 09 at 8.30 pm and 15 Oct 09 at 7.30 pm.
The last instalment for the Root Awakening column for October 2009 was published yesterday. The first question of the usual three asked about the care of cacti in the tropics. Cacti, in general, are sun-loving plants that require a location with direct sunshine to grow well. If one are growing them in an apartment, place your cacti either on a sunny windowsill or corridor. Make sure they get some direct sunshine for at least 4 hours daily.
These plants are also drought-tolerant and they need to be potted up in a very well-draining, gritty, soil mix, for example, one that consists of 1 part of commercial houseplant potting soil mixed in evenly with 1 part of good quality, sifted burnt earth and broken charcoal chips. Use our index finger to test for soil moisture below the surface before watering each time. Cacti do benefit if their root zone dries out a little before the next watering.
The second question was about the yellowing of leaves in a passion fruit vine. Yellowing of leaves may point towards a lack of nutrients essential for growth. However, if a plant is well-fed, the loss of lower leaves may mean that a passion fruit plant is suffering from a lack of water. A large plant grown in a pot would require more frequent watering. One may want to consider to transplant the vine into a larger pot and also lay a layer of organic compost on the soil surface to help conserve moisture. Note that the passion fruit vine needs to be exposed to at least 6 hours of direct sunshine for it to flower and fruit.
The last question dealt with the growing of the cooking ginger. The leaves of the cooking ginger turned yellow and dry because its growing environment is excessively hot and this is commonly experienced by high-rise apartment gardeners. Hence, it would be beneficial if you can relocate the plant to a semi-shaded site. It should also be protected from excessive wind which can cause your plant to dry out. Grow your ginger plant in moist, fertile and well-draining soil. Rhizome rot is likely to occur if a plant is grown in heavy clay soil that is constantly wet.
Clean and Green Singapore (CGS) returns to HortPark from 30 Oct 2009 to 1 Nov 2009. In line with the CGS theme of encouraging everyone in Singapore to adopt a clean and green lifestyle, National Parks Board (NParks) is launching the ‘Know 10 Trees’ movement for more people to learn about 10 common trees in Singapore and to better appreciate the tall green giants that clean the air and beautify our island.
The 10 trees selected to be featured in the movement are trees that are commonly found in Singapore, with distinctive features that would be easily recognized. Apart from learning about the journey to a clean and green Singapore at the main CGS site, visitors will be able to view a ‘Know 10 Trees’ exhibition at the HortPark Gallery, get free calendars on the 10 trees, vote for their favorite tree, and stand to win attractive prizes such as IPods, shopping vouchers, and book hampers.
A total of 5,000 ‘Know 10 Trees’ calendars will be given out from 5pm to 9pm on 30 October, and 9.30am to 9pm on 31 October and 1 November. Online voting and lucky draw starts from today to 10 November 2009 at www.nparks.gov.sg/vote10trees.
As part of the “Know 10 Trees movement”, a series of activities has been planned throughout 2010 to engage the public and reach out to people of all ages. Some of these include a tree-themed online video contest, match leaf/fruit to tree contest, guess the most common tree contest, and Heritage Tree guided walks. NParks is also working with SingPost on a stamp series to feature the 10 trees. This is likely to be launched next year or in early 2011.
On the objective of ‘Know 10 Trees’ movement, Dr. Leong Chee Chiew, Deputy CEO (Professional Development and Services Cluster), said: “Trees are a significant feature of our City in a Garden, and play an important role in making Singapore a distinctive and endearing city to live, work and play in. They line our roads beautifully, soften harsh landscapes, provide shade, reduce the ambient temperature, and clean our air. Through the ‘Know 10 Trees’ series of activities, we wish to share the importance of trees in our environment, and hope that people of all ages will come to appreciate and develop an affinity with the trees around us.”
The third issue of My Green Space, an e-newsletter of the National Parks Board (NParks), is now available online! The number of articles in the gardening section has doubled and readers are treated to a total of 4 articles to read from. Three of the articles in this issue are contributed by members from my team and division to interest the public on the gardening hobby.
One of the four articles entitled ‘Succulents: Uncommon Plants for Tropical Homes and Gardens’, touched on the topic of succulent plants that can be grown in Singapore. Written by myself, this piece introduces to the reader some succulent species that can withstand and grow in our tropical climate and should be considered if one wants to plant an arid-themed garden. Plants mentioned in the article have been recently featured in the succulent plants archway that greeted visitors to GardenTech 2009 and are also used as candidates for growing in tropical rooftop gardens.
URL – http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/nparksenewsletter/issue3/gardening/gardening-succulents.html
The next article to read is the one written on a DIY garden project. Titled ‘Get Cracking with Eggshells in Your Garden’, this article shares the multitude of uses of eggshells in a garden. Usually thrown out with the trash, eggshells, which contain calcium can be added to soil and the compost heap. They can also be used to make pots for raising seedlings and environmentally-friendly plant containers.
URL – http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/nparksenewsletter/issue3/gardening/gardening-getcracking.html
The third article titled ‘Watering Your Plants Wisely’ that was penned by my colleagues shares some tips on how to water our plants. Many a time, novices kill plants by over-watering them. Different plants have varying water needs and one can simply use one’s finger to feel for soil moisture to know whether or not to water. No knowledge of rocket science is required.
URL – http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/nparksenewsletter/issue3/gardening/gardening-wateringplants.html
The last gardening article was contributed by a fellow colleague, Mr Mohd Azmi, from Community in Bloom. By reading this community garden feature article, one gets to read about the experiences of a group of residents who gather to enjoy the gardening hobby at the the community garden located at Blk 666 Jalan Damai.
URL – http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/nparksenewsletter/issue3/gardening/gardening-community.html
Last Saturday, more than 80 gardening enthusiasts spent their Deepavali afternoon at HortPark, immersed in a world of their own – The World of Bryophytes.
Dr Benito delivering the talk on bryophytes at HortPark’s Fruit Room.
Thanks to Dr Benito C. Tan (Keeper of Herbarium), Mr Loh Kwek Leong (Killies.com) and Ms Serena Lee (SBG Herbarium), the audience was kept captivated by all things ‘mosses’ in a talk-cum-demonstration entitled ‘The Amazing World of Bryophytes: Unveiling its Science and Beauty’.
Serena from the SBG Herbarium giving a demonstration on how to make a moss terrarium.
Apart from getting up close and personal with an interesting selection of mosses, participants were treated to demonstrations on how mosses effectively liven up our aquariums and terrariums with their unique beauty. In addition, many amongst the audience were also fascinated by the refreshing concept of a moss vertical garden that was featured by Ms Ng Yi Min of NUS.
Mr Loh from Killies.com showing how to tie an aquatic moss onto a piece of driftwood during the demonstration on how to make an aquatic moss garden.
To round up the session, participants were treated to a bonus tour of the Lifestyle Corner to view the display on all things ‘leaves’, the current theme for the month.
The third instalment of the Root Awakening column was published today.
The first question dealt with an ant problem encountered during the growing of the fragrant pandan plant. One can remove ants from his/her pandan plants by sprinkling some ant powder (active ingredient – permethrin) that is available in most plant nurseries. Do not allow pets or young children from having close contact with plants after application. Wash thoroughly leaves after harvesting before use.
The enquirer also mentioned that young leaves have a tendency to die or turn brown at bent parts of a plant. One has to avoid injuring the leaves or young growing tips of plants unnecessarily as this can irreversibly damage the plant. Harvest damaged leaves by making a clean cut by using a sharp pair of scissors.
The next question was about problems faced in a newly purchased rose. Rose plants bought locally may have been newly imported from a cooler growing area. It is not unusual for it to show signs of stress which include the yellowing and shedding of leaves. It is recommended to cut off any remaining flowers and buds to avoid stressing the plant further and the pruning involved is likely to help the plant recuperate faster. After pruning, locate the rose plant in a semi-shaded location for new growth to appear. Avoid relocating to an area with full sun yet as the heat may affect the plant adversely. Keep the roots moist at all times and feed with a water-soluble fertiliser such as Phostrogen to promote new growth. Keep common rose pests like red spider mites and thrips at bay by spraying with Confidor.
The last question was about the growing of the jasmine plant and use of manure to feed them. Jasmine is a flowering shrub that can be grown in outdoor areas with semi-shade to full sun. In general, jasmine requires good light to flower and prefers to be grown in a well-draining and moist potting mix. Keep the roots moist at all times. Feed with a water-soluble fertiliser such as Phostrogen to promote vigorous growth and production of flowers.
Manure, in general, is made up of processed animal waste and is rich in nitrogen, which only promote foliage growth. You may need to supplement your plants with another fertiliser such as a balanced fertiliser (in the form of pellets or water-soluble salt form) to meet your plants’ nutrient needs.
Last Saturday, we celebrated Green Culture Singapore’s 5th anniversary. The actual birthday date this year was supposed to be on 15 September 2009. Due to a number of events which happened around the weekends then, the celebration was postponed. A million thanks to Green Baron who has helped us to book the function room at his condominium so we got a venue to hold the birthday party. I should also not forget Ah Kee’s effort for helping to coordinate various administrative matters such as the registration of members and for coming up with a very environmentally friendly name tag for everyone who came. Her husband has also helped to take numerous photographs for us put up on this blog post too!
As per previous celebrations, we organised yet another pot-luck party (what I term it as ‘by members, for members’) where we invited all members of Green Culture Singapore to come and chip in with food and drinks. There were also others who came with small pots of plants and cuttings for sharing with others. Generous members like Sean donated a couple of orchids which were put up for a lucky draw. This gathering we saw close to 70 members and my sincere thanks to them for making time to attend the celebration.
We have also progressed. Besides the usual family photograph that we must take during each gathering, one of our younger members, kiddyduck, did a video that documented what occurred during the entire session. The polished version has been uploaded to YouTube and linked to his blog.
In my short speech to all members who came for the gathering, I shared with them that we have come a long way to being half a decade old. I told them to not call me their ‘boss’ since I am a gardening enthusiast like each one of them. If they must give credit to me, I told them I would accept it on the fact that I was the one who started the website and forum and nothing more. Getting the forum up and running and making it what it is today is something that is not entirely my effort. Their participation and support were instrumental in making what Green Culture Singapore is today. I reminded all that mutual respect and peace are two very important factors that are essential in ensuring the success of a discussion forum and a cohesive online community.
Green Culture Singapore’s young, budding gardening enthusiast, Lim Xuan Hong gave another orchid-related talk last Saturday (10 Oct 09) at Singapore Botanic Gardens Function Hall. This talk was part of the talk series brought out by the ‘Community in Bloom’ (CIB) Programme, in collaboration with National Parks Board and Green Culture Singapore.
Xuan Hong is an apartment gardener and he grows a wide range of plants at the corridor outside his home. He is most well known for orchids and carnivorous plants among the members of Green Culture Singapore. In this talk, he shared his experience of growing Bulbophyllum orchids, which constitutes the largest genus in the Orchidaceae, as well as, the many species of Bulbophyllum orchids that one can find in Singapore nurseries, their uniqueness and how to grow them well. Some orchid collectors choose to grow bulbophyllums for their unique flowers, which have interesting looking lips.
During the Q&A session, an experienced grower in the audience also shared his knowledge of growing them successfully with all present that day. This talk also saw the congregation of gardening enthusiasts from three plant interest groups and societies in Singapore, namely, the Singapore Gardening Society, Orchid Society of South East Asia (OSSEA) and Green Culture Singapore.
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