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Secret Gardens: A Guerilla Garden in Singapore

With a space constrained country like Singapore, it would be a missed opportunity and utter waste of space for land to be left untouched and not used grow something of value – be it for aesthetics, shade or consumption purposes. Over the weekend, I encountered this neat guerilla garden in a forested area, and I was very envious of the variety of plants growing here.

These plants are tended to by different guerilla gardeners living in apartments nearby, and once in a while, there are neighbours who come by to relax. I encountered a couple of friendly gentlemen, one a jogger, who invited me to come by anytime to visit and said I could come by to chill out, shoot the breeze, and watch the sky if I please. There was a very idyllic vibe to this space, and sounds of the city were inaudible, instead I could only hear bird calls, and what sounded like a frog.

With durian trees growing on one side, the guerilla garden features edible plants such as winter melon, luffa, pumpkin, rosella, eggplant, beans, tomato, pandan, sawtooth coriander, laksa leaf, basil, torch ginger, pineapple, papaya and bananas. Like many other community gardens, they are not immune to thievery – mostly humans, but sometimes wild boars and squirrels, the latter which enjoys a good durian tasting.

I am not able to disclose the whereabouts of this garden, and so I have decided that this would be the first feature of my Secret Gardens series. In some cases owners are publicity shy and do not wish to show their faces, and by having a Secret Gardens series, I am able to share more inspiring gardens with you.

This is What Air Plant Paradise Looks Like

If you’re looking to buy exotic air plants in Singapore and Asia, you definitely need to check out Pick A Plant. For Tillandsia lovers, this is most certainly paradise. KP and I chanced upon their nursery when visiting another nursery around the corner. I was blown away by the nursery’s range of plants and how well presented the space is.

If you are new to Tillandsias and would like advice on plant care, it is best to visit them at Gardener’s Day Out at Hort Park each month, and check out their Facebook page for updates. As you can imagine, they handle lots of wholesale orders and have quite an inventory to manage, so they are not able to cater to walk-ins. If there is a particular plant you are after, give them a call to make an appointment!

String Garden: A parent-child kokedama workshop

Here’s an upcoming kokedama workshop, held in collaboration with Plain Vanilla Bakery as part of their Picnic Days summer-long series of events!

​​Introduce greenery to your living space with something space-saving and stylish that you and your child can make together. Kokedama, also known as “moss ball” or “string garden”, is a variant of bonsai cultivation, where plant roots are wrapped in soil and moss. In this parent-child session, learn how to make and care for your own kokedama. You will take home your own creation, along with a set of plant notes.

For children ages 8 and above; parent accompaniment required. $79 per parent & child pair.

Register here!

About Picnic Days

Picnic Days is a series of gatherings at the Plain Vanilla Flagship store at Tiong Bahru. Happening from 29 April to 8 October 2017, watch as the store is transformed into a grassy backyard complete with an indoor swing and hammock, and join us as we play host to an array of interactive activities, workshops and retail showcases. For a list of upcoming events, please see here.

The Tender Gardener advocates a gardening lifestyle by gathering and sharing stories, experiences, and advice. Through her blog and workshops, Olivia hopes to grow the gardening and urban farming community in Singapore, and encourage a love of plants and pollinators.

Garden Stories: Our Kampong Farm Rooftop Community Garden

On the top floor of a disused carpark space in Bedok, a group of 20 residents collectively grow, harvest, and cook for one another using produce from their rooftop community garden. Our Kampong Farm has taken a different approach to most community gardens, opting for the communal farm model – where everyone puts in their fair share of  work and enjoys the harvest together, rather than designating individual allotments. I felt inspired by what I saw, and could feel a sense of community spirit from this group of urban farmers.

This sprawling rooftop space is managed by 20 people, and currently not all of it is used for edible plants. Spanning around 15,000 square feet, only 10 per cent of the space is used to grow a wide variety of herbs, vegetables and fruits like caixin, kang kong, spinach, Japanese radish, lettuce, eggplant, tomato, pumpkin, bittergourd, watermelon, musk melon, okra, long beans, chilli, Thai basil, rosemary, perilla, pandan, aloe vera, oyster plant and papaya, among others. 

These urban farmers keep their expenses lean by taking what is normally considered waste from food vendors in the vicinity and using it as fertiliser. Given the number of plants here, store-bought fertiliser would not be cost-effective. In addition, they use a drip irrigation system for some of their plants, reducing water wastage and fertiliser run-off. Desmond Tan, who is part of the team, shared that okara, a by-product of making tofu, has proven to be a highly nutritious fertiliser, and dried banana peels have given their tomato plants a fantastic potassium boost. Food waste is certainly a resource that we don’t use enough of.

In this interview, Desmond tells us about the journey of Our Kampong Farm and lessons learnt along the way.