“We won the Gold Award and Best of Show!”
Uncle Harry couldn’t wait to let me know immediately after the results of the Singapore Garden Festival 2014 were released. After all, Aunt May did put in a lot of effort into the construction of this magnificent two-storey landscape garden, likely the first of its kind throughout the history of this festival. She also went against all odds (bursting her budget in the process) and disapprovals (mainly from Uncle Harry who couldn’t understand why she didn’t choose a simpler design to work on) to make this work. I’m so proud of her, not because she won, but because she persevered and bore the fruits of her labour.
This is Aunt May’s fifth participation in the Singapore Garden Festival. A few months ago, she was wondering if she could pull it off and accomplish the monumental task of constructing this landscape design. How would this structure withstand the weight of the trees? If the trees were too light, how would they be able to withstand strong gushes of wind and thunderstorm, not uncommon in our tropical climate? How much would it cost to build the two-storey structure?
She could have chosen a simpler, less costly design to implement, but she chose this, because one year, our then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong commented that there was nothing special about the design she had carried out, and encouraged her to use this festival to challenge herself. So she did. That’s why it is so inspirational.
As we were sitting there, watching the workers construct the structure, Aunt May suddenly said, “They are doing something dangerous.” She then shot up from her seat and went over to help. The workers were carrying a heavy metal piece by hand to be pinned around the platform on the second level. Aunt May stopped them, and requested for a forklift to help them out. The workers looked visibly relieved to see the forklift, and when they managed to lift all the metal pieces onto the platform, Aunt May told them that in the future, whenever they encounter a problem, they should let her know so she can help to think of a solution.
It was just a week before Singapore Garden Festival 2014 opened up to the public between 16th and 24th August, and as you can tell, Aunt May did not and could not put up the greenery before the structure was ready. An NParks official came over and informed Aunt May that she would need to put up the trees within three days as they were arranging to install an arch at the entrance, and from that point onwards, no crane could come into the arena. “How many trees are you going to put up? Five?” Aunt May looked at him and said, “Thirty eight.”
And it stands out, quite literally, from the rest of the landscape gardens, being two-storey tall and at the center of the landscape exhibitions. While it is pretty easy to go into a sensory overload at #sgf2014 with the colourful flowers and lush greenery all around you, the Sacred Grove only has a rock, a dear, dear designer chair my aunt had to splurge on, a pot of beautiful white phalaenopsis orchids, with golden shower oncidium orchids complementing the sparse schizolobium parahyba fern trees on the rooftop. It’s wonderful in that they made a landscape so difficult to construct into a simple and elegant design. Bravo to Aunt May for materialising this design!
I also love that #sgf2014 was held at Gardens by the Bay this year. The backdrop is just lovely.