Each year, Malini Lee generously opens her gardens to Singapore Gardening Society members to sell plants, proceeds of which go to the society. I’ve been wanting to go for a year now, last year I didn’t put in my membership form in time and had missed the opportunity to visit. I was pretty excited to be able to make it down this year, with my mother in tow, she’s a lifetime member.
Malini lives at Namly Crescent and has utilised the space in her garden well. She has a lovely collection of succulents, flowers, edibles and ornamentals, and it was a real treat for us to see and experience.
All plants were priced affordably, and we bought plants for no more than $5 a piece. There were easily hundreds of plants on sale, of many colours and kinds. We took home 10 plants for just $40.
As you can tell, there were lots of plants on sale. She has really great taste in plants, which were laid out nicely around the property.
Two weekends ago, I attended the quarterly Gardeners’ Day Out organised by NParks, and because I’d missed the last one, I made it a point to wake up very early to make it to Hort Park for this session. I generally like my sleep ins, especially on weekends. Well, it certainly did not disappoint! I did wish I had bought more plants though!
In general, I found that plants, soil, manure and some products to be rather affordable. Gardening can become an expensive hobby once you add growing systems, composting system, seeds, pots, seaweed extract and/or fish emulsion to the equation. Heirloom and organic seeds are always more pricey. The Seeds Master had a really lovely display, and each packet of seeds was going for $6, or 5 packs for $25. I ended up buying three different packs of flower seeds, I’m obsessed with flowers at the moment. There was a bit of a lucky dip for customers, and I picked a pack of Dwarf French Bean seeds.
There was a good range of plants on sale – succulents, including cacti, orchids, pitcher plants, air plants, florals, herbs and even eggplants and mulberry. Young seedlings were also available. There were also interesting talks and workshops, but I didn’t attend any.
Calendula Officinalis, or Pot Marigold is an incredible medicinal plant with healing properties, good for treating eczema and skin inflammations, and also a beneficial plant in the garden. In Dan’s garden in Australia, it has been so easy to grow, and has self-seeded from one plant to a whole cluster, adding vibrancy to an otherwise uniform sea of green.
There is a range of marigolds, and it is important to note that if you are after Calendula Officinalis for a homemade recipe, that you do not purchase or use the wrong type of marigold. Also, it is advised that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid ingesting calendula infusions, as it could cause a miscarriage for the former, as for the latter, its effects on babies are not yet known and it is more of a precautionary measure.
If you’re not keen on growing your own, you can find dried calendula flowers at Herbs 4 Life at 722 North Bridge Road, or prefer to order online, Abundant Earth stocks 30g-120g packs, starting from $14.50.
Personally, I use the infusion as a rinse for my face, on insect bites and wounds, and even as a mouth gargle. There are lots of uses, including treatment of ulcers in the mouth or digestive tract, and so it is good to have some in the pantry. I would choose this over any pharmaceutical product any day.
If you’re looking for ready made Calendula products, consider Four Cow Farm‘s Organic Calendula, Oat & Chickweed Bath Soaks, and Calendula Remedy. Their range is really natural and lovely, and I’m a fan of their baby wash too. Do check it out!
I don’t usually talk about cooking on this site, and this will certainly be the start of it. As an edibles gardener, I love food of course, and when I’m visiting Dan in the rainforest, I get a chance to experiment with different recipes in his relatively spacious kitchen. I’d have to admit that I’m not quite as adventurous when I’m in Singapore, and eat out more often than not.
I also have some food allergies (including dairy, capsicum, and I suspect, gluten) which means I have an increased vested interest in the food I consume. Shojin Ryori, or zen temple cuisine, suits me well as I find it to be quite a clean diet, and I have been looking for a good cook book on this subject, since it’s somewhat of a rare treat that I get to have only when Enso Kitchen chef, Danny Chu is in town to do his seasonal sessions four times a year.
Fortunately for me and his other fans, Danny has just launched a book of Shojin Ryori recipes – Shojin Ryori, The Art of Japanese Vegetarian Cuisine. I was at his private book launch yesterday (a day after the public launch at Books Kinokuniya) and got to sample some of the food featured in the book.
I didn’t realise there was food, so I was pleasantly surprised. I wanted to eat more but I had to practice some self-restraint, I didn’t want to look too greedy. Here are the yummy morsels – Watermelon Jelly, Eggplant with Goma Dressing, and Yurine Citrus Balls.