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Archives for June 7, 2017

RC concerned over gardener giving medical tips along with herbs: 6 things to know about Singapore’s community …

SINGAPORE – A dispute between a veteran gardener and a residents’ committee (RC) over how a community garden should be run was taken online last week, triggering a debate over the regulations that govern such gardens.

The gardener, 73-year-old Jurong West resident Tan Thean Teng, had been a volunteer caretaker of one near his home for 14 years, where he dispensed medical advice along with the herbs he doled out.

But the RC, which operates the garden, was not comfortable that residents were ingesting herbs from the garden on Mr Tan’s advice as he is self-taught.

Here’s what to know about community gardens in Singapore.

1. Initiative started in May 2005

That was when the Community In Bloom programme, a nationwide gardening movement aimed at fostering community spirit, was launched by the National Parks Board (NParks).

The first community garden was in the private housing estate of Mayfair Park in Bukit Timah, where an open monsoon drain was converted into a 100m-long walkway for residents to grow chillies, basil leaves and other spices.

The garden along the 100m-long walkway at Mayfair Park won the first prize at the National Parks Board’s first Community In Bloom Awards under the Private Housing Estates category in 2005. PHOTO: ANDREW TAN

Today, there are nearly 1,000 community gardens – engaging over 20,000 people – across Singapore and they are found mainly in four areas: in public and private housing estates, schools and organisations like hospitals.

2. How do you start one?

Residents attending to the community garden in Woodlands Street 81, which has eight plots growing plants such as pandan. PHOTO: ST FILE

The NParks website lists five easy steps to do so:

– Form a gardening group and gather support from the relevant authority.

– Identify a suitable site by considering factors such as a ready water source, amount of sunlight, inherent ground conditions and safety considerations.

– Organise a sharing session for participants where NParks will provide tips on good gardening practices and ideas on setting up the garden.

– Under the guidance of NParks, plan your garden by deciding on the theme, plant selection, size of garden and design.

– Plant your garden by engaging a contractor and purchasing plants and gardening materials and tools.

3. Where can community gardens be located?

Residents viewing the vegetables grown in the community garden located between blocks 404 and 405 at Ang Mo Kio Ave 10. PHOTO: ST FILE

For public housing estates: to be situated in common green areas within HBD estates or nearby parks.

For private housing estates: Homeowners may set up roadside gardens on the green verges in front of their homes, in their estates or in nearby parks. Condominium residents are encouraged to garden within their estates or along the roadside verge fronting/alongside their estates.

For schools: to be situated in the compounds of schools or at common green spaces within the neighbourhood.

For organisations: to be situated within the premises of organisations such as hospitals, welfare homes or places of worship, or at common green spaces within the neighbourhood.

4. Who’s responsible for maintaining them?

A resident removing weeds from her vegetable patch in Bukit Panjang Community Gardens along Petir Road. PHOTO: ST FILE

In HDB estates, the gardens are cultivated by residents and managed by the respective RCs. Some are funded by town councils while most are self-funded.

In schools, they are cultivated and maintained by students, teachers and volunteers.

In organisations, staff and volunteers are responsible for them.

Homeowners in private housing estates, meanwhile, are directly responsible for their own community gardens.

5. Biennial Community in Bloom competition

Tampines Greenvale’s community garden (pictured) was one of 14 community gardens to win a Diamond Award at the Community in Bloom Awards in 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

Started by NParks, community gardens which take part are judged in three areas – community involvement, garden quality and environment quality and biodiversity.

They are then awarded different achievement bands: bronze, silver, gold or platinum. Gardens that achieve three consecutive platinum bandings win the Diamond award, which was first introduced in 2014.

Last year, the Diamond award went to 14 gardens in places such as HDB estates, schools, a condominium estate and a mosque. Winners received a $1,000 cash prize and gardening equipment.

6. Notable gardens

– Eng Kong and Cheng Soon Community Garden in Bukit Batok

Community members tending their plots at the Eng Kong and Cheng Soon Community Garden. PHOTO: ST FILE

The largest of its kind in a private estate, measuring 50m by 44m, was started in November 2016 at the cost of $22,500.

Applicants ballot for the 90 plots available – all have been taken up – for $50 a year.

The neighbourhood committee’s chairman Mark Yuen told The Straits Times last year that there are plans to beautify the garden with sculptures and trellises.

– Goldhill Avenue Community Garden in Bukit Timah

The Moulmein Goldhill Neighbourhood Committee Garden (above) was the first community garden to be set up on state land in a private housing estate. PHOTO: CREATURES STUDIOS PTE LTD

In April 2012, then National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan praised the garden in his blog for fostering a “kampung spirit” and drawing birds like hornbills to feed on the fruits grown there.

While hornbills were a common sight in Singapore 100 years ago, they gradually disappeared with urbanisation.

The garden was the first community garden set up on state land in a private housing estate, with the 464 sq m plot leased from the Singapore Land Authority at a concessionary rate.

Fruits such as starfruit, guava and bananas grow in the green haven.

– Community garden at Al-Mukminin Mosque in Jurong East

The garden at the Al-Mukminin Mosque in Jurong East Street 21 won the Diamond award (organisations category) at the biennial Community In Bloom Awards 2016. PHOTO: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD

Built in 2010, the 30 sq m garden boasts various plants such as aloe vera, bougainvillea, orchids and five fruit trees.

Its tranquillity is popular with members who rest there, and is also a sought-after photography spot for couples during their marriage solemnisation.

It was a recipient of the Diamond Award last year.

Source: NParks

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5 garden tips for the week starting May 27

Feeding time

Feed citrus trees once again. Mature citrus trees need a yearly total of 1.6 pounds of actual nitrogen fertilizer, divided into four equal portions applied in late January, early March, late April and early June — about six weeks apart — and distributed around the drip line. Since 1 pound of any dry fertilizer equals about 2 cups, that is about 4 cups of ammonium sulfate, 2 overflowing cups of ammonium nitrate, or 1.5 cups of urea, each time you apply it. Be sure to water it in well.

Feeding time, part II

Avocado trees need a second semiannual feeding within the next couple of weeks — half a pound of actual nitrogen per tree. That means about 2.5 pounds (5 cups) of ammonium sulfate per mature tree. Or 1.5 pounds (3 cups) of ammonium nitrate per mature tree. Scatter it away from the trunk, near the outer edge of the leaf canopy, and water it in thoroughly.

Mulching time

If you have not already done so, be sure to add a 3-to-4-inch layer of mulch around all your flowers, roses, shrubs and fruit trees. Mulch reduces the likelihood of having to deal with weeds. And it also helps soil retain moisture, so you don’t have to irrigate as often to keep your plants healthy. Mulching makes a wonderful difference. Just don’t use redwood-based products around roses. Compost and other amendments work well.

Cutting time

Thin newly formed grape clusters to get larger individual fruits instead of huge bunches of tiny grapes. Cut each cluster basically in half as soon as the little grapes begin to form. This way the vine puts more energy into the remaining grapes. They grow larger and have better quality.

Spraying time

To prevent wormy apples at harvest time, begin a consistent spray program now. Newly hatched codling moths lay eggs on immature fruits throughout summer. The larvae enter the fruits and ruin them. Spray leaves and fruits with carbaryl (liquid “Sevin”) or malathion every 10 days during spring and summer.

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School of Garden Design charity breakfast

THE annual School of Garden Design Charity Breakfast, in association with The Gardener magazine and sponsor, Mpact Recycling, will take place on Thursday, June 29, at the Chantecler Hotel from 8.30am to 11am for an expected 200 guests.

All “green fingers� and nature lovers are encouraged to book a seat for this event, which is now in its 12th year and promises to be another exhilarating installment.

Celebrity guest speaker, Tanya Visser, editor of The Gardener and host of the Home Channel TV show, will take audiences “around the world in 60 minutes� as she showcases some of the most idyllic gardens she’s experienced both locally and abroad.

Tickets are R220, which gets you a morning of great entertainment and enjoyment including a goodie bag, breakfast buffet, expo shopping stalls, an awesome B.O.N Natural Oils gift per lady, an express spa pamper station and loads more. The event theme is “Around the World�, which is centred on Visser’s talk and a prize will be awarded to the best dressed.

The event aims to raise fund and awareness for The Sunflower Fund whose role is to educate and register more blood stem cell donors to give hope of life to patients suffering from life-threatening chronic blood disorders like leukaemia.

For more event information, bookings or sponsorship of prizes and/or goodie bag items, contact Lindsay Gray on 082 449 9237 or email

– Supplied.

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Muscatine Garden Club educations events

Members of the Muscatine Garden Club pose for a picture at the Plant It Pink garden at Weed Park. Members are, from left: Marlene Hanifan, Deb Bentley, Karen Mullen, Shirlee Werner, Maryrose Peterschmidt, Beverly Colbert, Tracy Edens, Janet Kardux, and Mary Wellington. The garden is part of a state-wide Garden Club project intended to create breast cancer awareness and support.

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Eight garden design trends inspired by the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Only in England would a garden show need to issue a stern warning to would-be ticket resellers.

But the RHS Chelsea Flower Show regularly sells out weeks in advance, attracting about 165,000 visitors. It is a major event on the British spring calendar: The BBC airs endless TV specials and international celebs parade through the grounds of London’s Royal Hospital Chelsea (among the bold names spotted this year: Dame Judi Dench, Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall).

Still, the real stars of the show are the 500 exhibitors and thousands of fragrant, blooming flowers.

There is something to be learned from all the gardens – even the ones that are delightfully over the top. If you can’t find inspiration here to keep your green thumbs busy, it might be best to find a new hobby.

Here are a few of the best trends spotted this year.

The first frameless greenhouse by Pure Greenhouse had everyone talking this year.
Tara Nolan

Peep show

Greenhouse companies, such as stalwart Hartley Botanic Inc., figure prominently at Chelsea, assembling their best models for the public to see and making one fervently wish that the same breadth of variety were available in Canada. The first frameless greenhouse by Pure Greenhouse ( had everyone talking this year, because of its enviable seamless interior, modern ventilation system and crystal-clear design made from 10-mm toughened glass. It also happened to win the RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year 2017.

Size matters

Metal was sculpted into everything from alliums to echinacea.

Metal was sculpted into everything from alliums to echinacea.

Tara Nolan

Garden art, of course, is entirely subjective, but various styles stood out, from James Parker’s beautifully rounded slate sculptures that came in apples and ovals, to Emma Stothard’s life-sized willow and wire animals. These works of art deserve a bigger yard or public space to shine. There were plenty of small-space-appropriate options, too. Metal was sculpted into everything from alliums to echinacea. Even trellising and plant protection was treated to curly cues and flourishes, to distinguish it all from the typical garden variety of bland metal ornamentation.

Heavy metal

Charlotte Harris deliberately chose hard materials to evoke the boreal forest’s ecology and geology.

Charlotte Harris deliberately chose hard materials to evoke the boreal forest’s ecology and geology.

Tara Nolan

We’ve seen copper indoors via lighting fixtures, faucets and other accessories. At Chelsea, copper was incorporated into various garden installations. Charlotte Harris, who designed the Royal Bank of Canada garden with her all-female team, deliberately chose hard materials to evoke the boreal forest’s ecology and geology. The inside of her modern larch pavilion is lined with copper. In the Seedlip Garden, copper piping demonstrated a 17th-century approach to distilling non-alcoholic spirits. And copper hues were evident in the rusted elements of various plots. For example, the three water-filled tubs in the Zoe Ball Listening Garden were rusted to a nice copper-ish patina.

Throwing shade

The leaf-shaped loggia created for the Morgan Stanley Garden.

The leaf-shaped loggia created for the Morgan Stanley Garden.

Tara Nolan

Every sunny yard necessitates some type of shade protection – especially if we’re in for a hot, sunny summer. There was the Charlotte Harris pavilion, as well as the leaf-shaped loggia created for the Morgan Stanley Garden. This look could be recreated and supported off the back of a sturdy brick home. The Anneka Rice Colour Cutting Garden featured an open-air shed structure – a perfect place to pot or sip a cup of tea.

Patio furniture was elevated beyond the typical big-box offering.
Tara Nolan

Sitting pretty

Patio furniture was elevated beyond the typical big-box offering and in many gardens was used as an art form to illustrate the contemplative quality of a garden. In the Poetry Lover’s Garden, a metal lounger balanced upon a sphere. In the Gaudi-inspired Viking Cruises Garden of Inspiration, a white geometric chaise stood in stark contrast to the colourful, art nouveau mosaic that ringed an orange tree. The furniture in the 500 Years of Covent Garden space evoked that thin, pale pallet-wood vibe. A couple of garden displays featured teardrop seating, swinging from a strong overhead support. And the Jeremy Vine Texture Garden simply provided domed rocks upon which to perch.

Urban accommodation

Innovative ideas remind us we just need to use a little imagination to carve out space in urban gardens.

Innovative ideas remind us we just need to use a little imagination to carve out space in urban gardens.

Tara Nolan

Urban gardening can present its challenges when square footage is low, but innovative ideas, such as those presented in the RHS Greening Grey Britain Garden, remind us we just need to use a little imagination to carve out a space. A rain garden was included in the design to demonstrate how to deal with flash flooding and conversely drought-tolerant plants were used throughout. Bins and bikes proved not to be obstacles, as a mini rooftop garden was built right overtop of the bins, while the bikes got their own mini-driveway between flower plantings.

Another garden that featured that “ unpaving paradise” concept was the MG Garden. Inspired by a Maltese quarry, its visual design lessons are more esoteric, but once you understand its overall lesson of preservation and regeneration, you could apply it to the revitalization plans for any harsh, concrete urban landscape.

Edible landscaping

Fruits and vegetables are being sneaked into traditional ornamental gardens.

Fruits and vegetables are being snuck into traditional ornamental gardens.

Tara Nolan

With garden space at a premium in many urban lots, fruits and vegetables are being snuck into traditional ornamental gardens, or being presented as the stars of the show. Front-yard edible gardens are becoming more the norm because, sometimes, that’s the homeowner’s sole optimal food-growing area (one that gets six to eight hours of sunlight that heat-loving veggies, such as tomatoes, need to thrive). A new book this spring calls it The Foodscape Revolution. At Chelsea, the Chris Evans Taste Garden, part of the BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens appealling to the five senses, colourful Swiss chard and lettuces, and tall, frilly purple and green kale varieties proved their ornamental value alongside the flowers in an edible garden. And fennel, of all things, was used in more than one garden as a frothy, feathery foliage to complement other fuller, leafy greenery and the colourful blooms on display.

A pocketful of posies

Colourful lupins were a predominant bloom, along with alliums, plume thistle, foxgloves and more.

Colourful lupins were a predominant bloom, along with alliums, plume thistle, foxgloves and more.

Tara Nolan

Cutting gardens have increased in popularity, thanks to Instagram inspirations, such as Floret Flowers. Colourful lupins were a predominant bloom, along with alliums, plume thistle, foxgloves and more. Of course planting all these gems attracts and benefits the pollinators, too. Insects got a bit of attention, with elaborate pollinator palaces and insect hotels constructed as habitat.

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Vail Landscape Logic column: Planting patterns for your garden

if you grow your own favorite salad ingredients, then you might want to consider a new planting pattern this year that lets you toss the salad when you plant it. The results will yield a healthier harvest and more flavorful combo when you grow your own garden this spring.

Plant the same staple ingredients as always — tomatoes, lettuce and herbs — but this year, toss your salad plants and herbs into a different growing pattern, allowing them to help one another.

Plant lettuce underneath tomatoes

As tomatoes mature, they will create shade for the lettuce, which is a cool-season crop. Lettuce leaves will like being kept cooler and shaded as temperatures continue to warm.

Plant basil nearby

Basil and tomatoes are companion plants that are beneficial for one another. Basil improves the growth and flavor of tomatoes and helps repel thrips — a common Colorado garden pest.

Add traditional herbs to the mix

Include common herbs of parsley, oregano, chives, tarragon and thyme in your garden mix. They enhance a winning garden combo because they promote health of other plants and repel common insects — not to mention their versatility in the kitchen.

Parsley repels harmful insects and attracts beneficial ones. If left to flower and go to seed, then parsley will attract predatory wasps and hoverflies that will kill caterpillars and other garden pests. (Note: Avoid planting mint and parsley close together as they are not good companions. Planted in proximity, neither plant will thrive.)

Oregano is not only a flavorful herb for salads and sauces, but it provides pest protection throughout the garden.

Chives repel aphids from tomatoes.

Tarragon is especially useful because few pests like it. If space permits, then plant it throughout the garden as it enhances growth and flavor of vegetables while repelling pests.

Keep your veggie garden pollinator friendly

Allow some herbs to flower to attract pollinators into the garden.

Plant lavender to attract butterflies and bees — but plant it away from doorways, walks and places where people gather. At the end of the season, collect dried flowers for fragrant potpourri and sachet pouches.

Plant zinnias to attract hummingbirds, bees and other insect pollinators. To promote more blooming, snip them to use as cut flowers in bouquets.

Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.

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