Singapore Garden Festival 2014: Sacred Grove (Best of Show!)

“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?

0809 (6-Sacred Grove)

Aunt May asked me to visit her on site, during the construction of the Sacred Grove, on National Day.

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.

0809 (6-Aunts Sacred Grove)

Although Aunt May hired a contractor, she was there every day, just to make sure it was progressing as planned.

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.

0809 (6-From Sacred Grove)

Aunt May made me stand at this spot to take in the view of Marina Bay Sands. She said that’s the best spot.

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.”

Uncle Harry sent me this photo after the results were announced.

Uncle Harry sent me this photo immediately after the results were announced.

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!

Different features of the Sacred Grove, designed by Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam (UK), and implemented by Evershine Projects Pte Ltd.

Features of the Sacred Grove, designed by Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam (UK).

I also love that #sgf2014 was held at Gardens by the Bay this year. The backdrop is just lovely.

Look at the rattan snails!

Look at the rattan snails!

Chinese New Year 2014 @ Evershine

At Evershine, Chinese New Year is all about having fun, because it’s the only time of the year we get to see throngs and throngs of people visiting the far-removed nursery in Choa Chu Kang. To us, it does not matter whether you are buying thousands of dollars’ worth of flowers, plants and arrangements to prep your house for the upcoming festivities, or just getting a pretty pot of orchids to decorate your office space, or you may well be coming over just to soak in the Chinese New Year atmosphere amongst the festive flowers, we welcome you all the same.

Chinese New Year Crowd @ Evershine

Chinese New Year Crowd @ Evershine

Festive Flowers

Tentage Up, Flowers In – Ready for Chinese New Year!

Pretty Orchids

Pretty Orchids

Although our main source of revenue comes from valued loyal customers who place huge orders on our floral arrangements for the festive season each year, our main source of fulfillment comes from the compliments and appreciation towards these arrangements, be it from the recipients themselves, or even walk-in customers captivated by the end-product, asking if we could arrange the same for them.

Creative Pineapple Arrangement for Toshin Development in Takashimaya

Massive Floral Arrangement

Massive Floral Arrangement

Orders Waiting to be Delivered

While big-ticket items are important, we don’t forget the small products too. Ranging from colourful terrariums and lucrative dracaena (or lucky bamboo as some call it) to cutesy cacti and a multitude of decorative items, these products are equally effective at attracting passer-by’s attention. Our current marketing ploy (revealing a trade secret here) is using the solar hummingbird (S$8) to stop customers in their tracks, right in front of our decoration booth, as they get intrigued by the iridescent hummingbird they almost think is real.

Planeterrarium

Planeterrarium

Tiny Plan(e)t with Big Dreams

Tiny Plan(e)t with Big Dreams

Lucrative Dracaena (or Lucky Bamboo)

Lucrative Dracaena (or Lucky Bamboo)

Cutesy Cacti

Cacti Artwork

Cacti Artwork

Crowded Decoration Booth

Crowded Decoration Booth

 

We also admit that every event has its flaws: there may be times we appear shorthanded (which means good business, which is good news, really), and there may be times you feel unattended to, but do know that we value each and every customer/visitor, so please come with an open heart and give us some time to get to you – I promise you we will.

Of course, there is still room for lots of improvement, and we aim to make our annual Chinese New Year megafest better and more efficient each year. That being said, this would not be possible without our dedicated workers of various nationalities (such as Bangladeshi, Filipino and Chinese), who are also a team of professionals in our view. Occasionally, we get customers who cast doubt on their ability to make decisions when we direct them to our workers, but these workers have been with us for years (some over five years, others ten), and the customers who have been attended to have nothing but praises for them in the end.

Workers in Blue

Workers in Blue

At the end of the day, Chinese New Year is a joyous occasion. Aunt May, for one, hopes that everyone who comes in, leaves with something they like, be it an elegant floral arrangement, a giant mandarin orange tree, a pot of hydrangeas/chrysanthemum/gerberas/bougainvillea or just a tiny pot of cactus for the office, and even a birdie decoration for the kids – no one leaves empty-handed.

I hope you won’t either.

Payment Hut

Payment Hut

Personal Favourite Gerberas

Personal Favourite Gerberas

Colourful Bougainvilleas

Colourful Bougainvilleas

Smiling Buddha Seeing You Out

Singapore Garden Festival 2012: The Path of Life

In collaboration with award-winning garden designer, Paul Martin, Evershine Projects Pte Ltd constructed ‘The Path of Life’ in Singapore Garden Festival 2012, which has won the Gold award.

The most striking feature of this contemporary, modern garden is the canal, edged in steel, that runs through the garden at 45 degrees, symbolising the journey of life and its constant renewal. The still water reflects the abundant sky, and its endless possibilities, yet underneath, fishes dwell, as does life.

As with the contrast of rough stone walls and smooth rendered walls to illustrate the uneven passage of life, full of twists and turns, ups and downs, the surrounding greenery comprised of a variety leaves and plants to bring out the different textures and shades of green within the garden, while flowers were planted in blocks, some caged, to symbolise life’s unfulfilled dreams and wishes. The beauty (and difficulty) of it all is the ability to present such a wide range of flowers, plants and even trees in a way that shows a lively vibrancy in the garden, instead of chaos.

The Path of Life is the co-existence of Modernity with Nature, as one can’t do without the other. Sitting on the reclining chair, contemplating about life, I see tall African lilies, swaying in the wind, like my aspirations standing tall in the face of adversity; I see the trapped cymbidium orchids spilling from their cage, as are my hopes and dreams waiting to be unleashed. What do you see?

Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone

Evershine is a place where she worked, lived, smiled, and shone like sunshine that warms your heart and comforts your soul.

Evershine Florist started in 1969, when she was 21. Carrying the flower baskets on her shoulders and lugging her siblings in tow, she went from house to house, selling flowers to the British army, expatriate families as well as the residents living in Bukit Timah, an estate that would soon be known as ‘District 10’ – a place where the rich resided.

The growing affluence of the residents as well as her personable service towards her customers had ensured a steady stream of income, and soon, an opportunity arose for her to rent a shopfront along Bukit Timah, 6th Avenue, where Evershine Flora Deco Team was born.

Having a team meant that she no longer had to do everything on her own. Family and friends came together with a common interest in making Evershine the go-to place for quality floral decorations, exquisite workmanship and of course, her signature personalised service that would not only put a smile on her customers’ face, but on her own as well.

She was never professionally trained in floral arrangement, but she had a natural affinity with flowers and an eye for aesthetics. Most importantly, she listened to her customers, catering to their whims and fancies, noting their preferences, and keeping in mind their intentions for these flowers, whether as a lovely bouquet for a valentine, or an elegant floral arrangement to beautify their home.

Eventually, and unsurprisingly, by purely word of mouth, she managed to secure a loyal customer base, among which contained a number of high-profile clientele, including 5-star hotels such as Raffles Hotel and Shangri-La Hotel as well as prominent jewellery brands like Tiffany & Co. Pte Ltd.

Yet not once did she become complacent with her achievements. Constantly picking up new decorative ideas from floral magazines and everyday life, she developed and made them into her own through creativity and implementation. Having honed her skills to an admirable strength, she grew confident with herself as an experienced decorative florist, and ventured into decorating for parties, ballroom functions, product launches, corporate events and weddings.

In 30 years’ time, Evershine’s immense success allowed her to lease a plot of land (5 acres) at Agrotechnology Park (55 Sungei Tengah Road). Initially, she was reluctant towards her younger sister’s (May) suggestion to develop their own nursery and expand into plant propagation to become self-sufficient in growing their own flowers. However, she eventually agreed, knowing that it would also give her younger brother (Harry) a chance to establish his own business entity – Evershine Projects Pte Ltd – which would focus on providing horticultural and landscaping services for owners and contractors.

Unfortunately, she did not live to see that day.

Upon her untimely demise, May and Harry took over her reins, and shifted the entire business operations to the newly-leased plot of land in Agrotechnology Park. Her Evershine spirit continues to live through them till this day.

Like a flower, she had blossomed into a full, beautiful, but short life that was as precious as it was fleeting.

If the garden is where her heart lies, my heart lies with her, for she is my mother.

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