In spite of our sunny tropical weather (and maybe also because of it), Singaporeans do want to be close to nature, judging by the growing interest in urban farming, container gardening and terrariums.
But in a place where most people live in high-rise apartments, this may seem a challenging task. Fortunately, as long as you have a sunny spot at home, you have an opportunity to create your own Garden of Eden. Take note of these pointers:
Design with thought
Kenny Eng of Gardenasia, says, “Have fun with the space – don’t be afraid to try.” However, as space is tight, plan early. Many would put plantscapes and gardens last on their list, so balcony design is usually compromised. Having said that, Kenny has also seen balconies transformed into lush plant havens.
Choose the right plants
Find the right plants, or they will stress you out when they keep dying. Attend talks to get basic tips on plant selection, watering, and fertiliser management. “Start small and keep a garden you can manage,” says Veera Sekaran, botanist at Greenology.
Give it some TLC – tender loving care!
All tropical plants are suitable for Singapore’s climate, but “low maintenance” does not mean no maintenance. Amos Mak, a horticulturist with landscape firm Salad Dressing, says we should fertilise our plants once a month. Fertilisers incorporate three major elements – nitrogen to strengthen the foliage, phosphorous to develop the roots and flowers, and potassium to ensure overall health.
(design: Distinct Identity)
Layer it up
If you have a narrow side garden, create a forest-scape by layering plants of different heights. Use the same layering principle for your balcony garden, even for potted plants.
Less is more
Instead of buying many small potted plants, just one nice statement piece will do the trick. If your space is limited, try hanging plants at different levels.
(design: Free Space Intent)
Use every space
Utilise corner spaces by adding a small water fountain or a statue. You can also transform all or part of a plain wall into a feature wall. Vertical gardens are great as partitions, or to mask not-so-fantastic views. In high-rise outdoor spaces, they take the garden off the limited floorspace but still allow you to enjoy nature.
Decorate the space
Don’t forget how your garden will look at night. With LEDs, outdoor lighting is easy to install and available for all budgets. Solar-powered versions don’t even need installation. Veera’s advice: “Go for low-wattage mood lighting and highlight the decorative elements in your balcony.”