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Garden Stories: Hedrick Kwan of Plant Visionz

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Hedrick Kwan has a bold, charismatic and vivacious personality, which also translates to his gardening and landscaping style, and contemporary approach to creating food pairings. He runs Plant Visionz, a landscaping business specialising in edibles and orchids, and is a classically trained horticulturist.

Highly experienced, he takes a practical approach to landscaping projects but is also intuitive and open to try new, unexpected combinations, and he has a beautiful flagship project to show for it. Hedrick kindly gave me a tour around Portico, a restaurant off Alexandra Road, where he has grown a mix of edible plants for use by the establishment, such as Hyacinth Beans, Ceylon Spinach, Ulam Raja, Fennel, Sweet Potato Leaves, Limes, and mini Cucumbers.

He has also grown a wonderful medley of herbs, often together in containers with other plants, which is not only a clever space saving idea, but it also works in terms of companion planting, and looks great too. These herbs are used in cocktails also, basil flowers is one such example. Hedrick, who’s profession also includes being a Horticulture Culinarist – one who puts together food concepts and recipes using plants, also teaches cooking classes, and is a curious food forager, on the look out for edible plants off the sidewalks of Singapore.

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Garden Stories: Suekay of Urban Agriculture

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I enjoy my catch-ups with Suekay, sometimes I pop by her Bishan residence to talk about collaborations, where the garden offers a wonderful backdrop to our discussions. She lives with her in-laws, who have created a lush, pretty garden with the help of a gardener. It has quite a neat, unified, formal appearance, with mainly ornamental plants. There are plans to introduce edible plants in the near future, which is exciting to hear. As you’ll see, I couldn’t resist getting a little snap happy on the garden… It’s such a beautiful, relaxing space, I feel like I’m visiting a resort each time I go there.

I’ve known Suekay for a while now and I love her warm personality and down-to-earth approach to everything she does. She’s very driven with her online gardening supplies business, Urban Agriculture, which retails a range of gardening products including seeds, microgreen kits, fertiliser and soil enhancements. We have a working arrangement where I list seeds and worm tea on her website. On top of running Urban Agriculture, she looks after NONG (by Edible Garden City)’s retail operations.

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She made a transition from the financial sector to go full-time into promoting urban farming, a profession that she finds a lot more joy and meaning in.  Here she shares her motivation on making a career switch, and her journey so far. If you find Suekay familiar, you might have seen her in a previous post on her beekeeper colleague, Thomas Lim.

Garden Stories: Bhavani Prakash, the Mindful Gardener

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A few weekends ago, I paid a visit to my dear friend, Bhavani Prakash, who lives in the West Coast, and I was looking forward to seeing her inspiring rooftop and balcony gardens again. Bhavani hosted Ginny Giovanni (pictured above) and I for tea that rainy afternoon, and gave us an unforgettable experience of not just lovely treats, but also a tour of her garden spaces, and the condominium’s community garden, which she helped initiate.

I met Bhavani years ago through work in the sustainability field, where she is very active in creating and inspiring change. She is a strong advocate for green living, connecting to nature, and mindfulness, she raises awareness of these meaningful topics at corporate and individual levels through speaking at conferences, and by providing coaching and training. Bhavani is well known for her environmental advocacy website, Eco WALK the Talk, and sustainability and thought leadership platform Green Collar Asia. More recently, she has been conducting Mindfulness at Work training with The Potential Project. As busy as she is, she manages to be a hands-on, nurturing mother and gardener, and does well at both.

She has been able to grow a variety of fruit, herbs, vegetables and ornamentals on her balconies, including sugarcane, bananas, sweet potatoes, peanuts, winged beans, purple beans, mustard greens, watermelon, custard apple, mulberry, moringa trees, frangipanni, among others. Bhavani also makes her own compost which she uses for her plants.

Garden Stories: Donald and Rachael Tan

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I had the pleasure of visiting Donald and Rachael Tan’s green haven and corridor farm in Punggol recently, and was bowled over by how space-efficient and creatively laid-out it is. Between the couple, Donald maintains the plants, and Rachael harvests produce for the table.

Even though his corridor gets only two hours of sun each day, he has managed to grow a wide variety of plants. Beyond ornamental plants, he grows microgreens, herbs like purple basil, chocolate mint, thyme, dill, pandan, curry, sawtooth coriander etc, he has fruit plants such as gooseberry, grapes, gac fruit, and vegetables like kang kong, amaranth spinach, curly kale. There are so many different plants that I can’t list them all… in fact, I can’t remember them all!

I got to know Donald better when I caught up with the Edible Gardens team one day for a lunch discussion. We bonded over the subject of Daiso and its small but useful gardening section, and how he, as well as my parents enjoy buying supplies from there to supplement our gardening needs. It was after viewing photos of his green corridor from his phone, that I felt like I had to pop by for a look. The plastic baskets sitting on his verandah are all from Daiso, and he has lined them with geotextile, which provides good drainage while keeping all soil in place when watered.

Garden Stories: Thomas Lim of Edible Gardens

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This month, I joined beevangelist, Thomas Lim and his Edible Gardens colleague, Suekay, on one of their bee rescue trips. It was Thomas’ second visit to this property in Punggol, where he had previously removed a hive successfully.

On this occasion, the whole process took more than two hours, which is not uncommon, so lots of patience is required on their part. Their task is not as easy as it seems, as the bee suits, although much thinner than the conventional version, is quite warm when worn, especially for that duration. Also, angry bees will swarm around them, and they are sometimes stung in the process, like they were that day.

Thomas and Suekay had to walk away a couple of times in order to calm them down, the rationale for that is bees don’t fly too far away from their hive, and at some point, the bees will have to go back. Bees also picked up on their scents, and would leave the owners and I alone even though we were standing quite near the both of them.