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begonias Singapore

City, Garden Stories

Garden Stories: Kenneth Tham’s Corridor Display Garden


Kenneth Tham’s zest for life is inspiring. Aside from running a hairdressing business, parenting teenagers, and caring for his dogs in partnership with his wife, he finds time to tend to an incredibly lush corridor garden, a plant conservatory at their hair salon, as well as raise funds to support the needy.

In late August, Kenneth and other cyclists will ride 1000km to raise awareness and donations to provide basic monthly necessities to 330 households. Plants are part of his efforts to gather contributions to his nominated charity – he sells Begonias and Episcias, and proceeds go to the beneficiaries of Sunlove Neighbourhood Links.

He has a great sense of aesthetics, visible from the highly complementary manner in which he presents his plants – colours, textures, shapes, and even the way the leaves sit – everything falls together nicely. As you can tell from the photos, he’s also an incredibly neat gardener.

During my visit, I noticed an Olive-backed Sunbird sitting on one of his trellises, and he pointed out that he had a family of Dwarf Pigeons living among the foliage. How delightful!

Image courtesy of Kenneth ThamImage courtesy of Kenneth Tham

Clearly an avid Begonia fan, Kenneth has several varieties on display at his corridor and also enclosures for some of his plants at the hair salon. Not all of the plants in the hair salon are for sale, especially not the rare ones. There’s even a sign indicating so, he must have had lots of enquiries.

Many are curious about where he lives, but in order to protect his privacy, I can only divulge that he lives in the north. I can however, share that his hair salon is located at Serangoon Avenue 2, his preferred location as a pick-up point for plant purchases.


DSCF4883At his hair salon, he sells Begonias, Episcias, self-watering planters and accompanying sleeves that fit snugly. These sleeves are knitted by his mother, and they come in different sizes for differing purposes.

Begonias have been popping up on my radar for the last couple of years. I wasn’t very keen on them initially but I kept encountering Begonia enthusiasts, usually members of the Singapore Gardening Society. Early in the year, I attended an interesting talk organised by the society about how Gardens By the Bay staff travelled to Japan on a Begonia planthunting trip. I can now appreciate the allure of these plants.

In meeting Kenneth, my interest was further piqued, and I decided to take the plunge and purchase my first Begonia. He assured me that when anyone buys a plant from him, they are paying for a well presented plant, and pointed out how well-arranged the foliage is.

One plant of his which I found interesting is the Jewel Orchid, which looks like it has gold dust on the veins of its leaves. That one is not for sale, as it was a gift from a friend. I photographed it, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture its gold shimmer.

Please read on to find out more about Kenneth, and how you can contribute to his nominated cause!


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