By Mildred Jones
The Orchid is the National flower of Singapore yet we see the usurpation of the decorative Bougainvillea’s on just about every avenue. On Street 52, Bukit Batok, a primary school had specifically chosen to cultivate a collection of bougainvillea varieties, protected from prying fingers. As soon as you enter the gates, you are greeted with the purple, ‘Barbara Karst’ and the yellow ‘Lady Mary Bearing’. As you walk in further, a beautiful bunch of what looks like, bountiful bowers of ‘Java Whites’. This is inspiring as we look towards potting these beautiful flowers in our own apartments.
How do we do this and be able to manage it so the plant can be placed on a small decorative table for the home. Here is an example of what can be done to capture the beauty of these flowers in a miniature form with the introduction of the bonsai bougainvillea.
The trek outside the school led me straight into Patricia Lim, a resident of Bukit Batok for thirty years. A keen enthusiast for nature, I was favoured with an offer to guide us through the avenue. We soon discovered the Chai Sim and Lady fingers growing in the vegetable plots through the gates of the school and beside it there was a star fruit tree. As we came around, a magnificent sight of laden tropical coconuts also known as the Yellow Malaysian Coconut Tree were growing in the compound area of a nearby condominium. I came to learn that the ‘The Red Malaysian Palm’ is of the most resistant of all the varieties. It grows best in the full sun, high humidity, and well-drained soil. In a location without winter frost, the coconut palm can live up to 80 to 90 years. What is interesting to note is that these can be grown in a container with a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight and reach a height of 5 feet thereabout. The dwarf coconut varieties are usually the favourite variety to grow in small spaces. (It only requires an area of 3 to 5 feet to grow).
The Secret Steps to the Waters of the Hills
Soon enough, Patricia led me away towards the steps of where, rushing forth, was clear water from the hills. A beautiful sight to behold in urban city, Singapore. The waters were naturally enriched in minerals. Here, she says, leads to the pathway up to the Durians! I have to say, that I almost missed a step in complete shock. The all famous Asian favourite, the Durian, distinctive for its strong odour and flavour were growing in clusters, completely hidden behind shrubbery. Tall as they were, there was no mistaking, that the golden fleshy fruit encased in a hard spiky exterior were hanging. Akin to a prayer, Pat moved like a spirit towards the stairway to heaven. Here the laden mana of the heavens will open and drop the fruit, she explained, and a blessed few would, in the early hours of the morning, faithfully come to pick the humble fruit and take them back home. The edible fruit is noted for being high in Vitamin C, Iron, Copper and rich in protein and potassium. At its best, it is described, as rich custard, flavoured with almonds.
Photo acknowledgements: Flicker