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Agatha Lee, or Agy, for short, is a long-time environmental advocate who raises awareness of environmental sustainability through her work with textiles. Formerly from Hong Kong, she has been living with her family in Singapore for almost two decades now. She spent half of that time here at the National Environmental Agency before finding her true calling in sustainable fashion, starting with an informative blog on repairing and upcycling clothing, and then co-founding Connected Threads Asia, which runs the local Fashion Revolution Day annually. She eventually moved on to focus on personal artistic projects.

After spending many years honing her craft, Agy developed into an artist, using natural materials and discarded fabrics to create wearable fashion or art pieces, always remaining true to her sustainability roots. She now goes by the name Agy Textile Artist. These days she also busies herself with The Green Collective, a gathering of local eco lifestyle brands in one place – offering retail, co-working office space and workshops.

I’ve known Agy for some years now in the environmental sector, but it was only last year that we began collaborating on workshops, mainly beeswax wrap classes. I’ve always admired the work she does and I love her refashioned pieces, especially her latest wardrobe addition – espadrilles made with fabric scraps. Agy is very creative indeed!

Apart from natural dyeing, she specialises in free motion embroidery, a technique she has used to create artwork from her Nature in Stitches series, and Ocean series, the latter being a collaboration with another artist, Arana Kennedy. Some of this work is documented on her YouTube page, along with other artistic endeavours such as various mending techniques, the natural dyeing process, as well as hand embroidery, so be sure to check it out!

I spent some time with Agy and created my first Garden Stories video on YouTube. Here’s my interview with her.

Agy: Textile Artist | Natural Dyeing & Sustainable Fashion Using Textile Waste - YouTube

1. When did you discover your love for working with plants?
I enjoy working with plants and experimenting with their colours. I realised it when I started to explore the parks in my neighbourhood two years ago when I needed to slow down in life. As I reconnected with nature, I started to notice their different textures and how their beauty could be translated into stitches and colour in textiles. There are so many plants in Singapore, and I have to admit I have only touched the surface.

2. Where do you get your inspiration for your creations from?
Nature! There’s so much inspiration out there, you just have to look! I love observing my surroundings and how the public interacts with it. My first work was a series called Nature in Stitches, where I interpreted the bark of common trees in Singapore using natural dyes and free motion embroidery. I then worked on a collaborative piece called Ocean, which looks at how man’s interference with nature has a negative impact on corals.

3. It’s amazing how you managed to source so many of your materials and ingredients locally, where do you find them?
I work mainly with textiles, but I hate waste so I only use what I already have, or use textile waste. My neighbourhood park and my friends’ gardens are sources for my natural dye materials but rather than pick from the plant directly, I only use plant matter that would have otherwise been disposed of. It does sound limiting but I believe in the power of limitations – it forces you to be creative.


Botanical Print - Eucalyptus Camaldulensis - YouTube

4. I love your naturally dyed fabrics. Is it complicated to dye textiles with natural materials at home? Do you need to invest in a lot of tools to do this?
Is it complicated? There’s a lot of science behind natural dyeing, and there is a lot of reading up, but I think the most important thing to remember is that you need a lot of patience as it is a time-intensive process, and sometimes the colours don’t end up the way you expect it to.

I didn’t invest a lot, in fact, I used an old pot that was used for sterilising baby bottles, and I purchased a secondhand rice cooker. My husband says our freezer looks more like a garden! I actually freeze my materials especially those for my eco prints. For the rest of my dyeing, they have to be used fresh.

5. Last year you did an artist residency at L’Observatoire at Blue House for a month. Tell me about the work you created while you were there?
It was a really exciting month of dyeing with natural materials and I wished it was longer. I found myself in the zone of experimenting and creating without any disruptions (no family, no cat!). It was a wonderful experience as the studio was on a preschool campus. It meant I had the chance to interact with the children and get them to contribute to the project – they brought onion skins, avocado seeds and there was even coffee grounds! I also explored the flora on the school premises – working with limitations! The result of the experiments were exhibited to show how we can rethink nature’s contribution to society in terms of colour.

Photo courtesy of Agy Textile Artist

Photo Courtesy of Agy Textile Artist

6. Do you have any advice for those who want to begin learning about textile dyeing?
Be patient. Remember that we are dealing with materials from nature, something that is beyond our control. This means we may not be able to replicate the results over time and space. So just relax and enjoy the process.

To find out more about Agy Textile Artist, find her on Facebook, YouTube and her website, where she journals her projects and shares videos of her projects. She runs regular workshops on natural dyeing and refashioning clothing items, more details here!

All photos are taken by Olivia Choong unless otherwise indicated.

The post Garden Stories: Natural Plant Dyer & Textile Artist Agy Lee appeared first on The Tender Gardener .

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Agy and I are back for another beeswax wrap workshop in early July at Funan Showsuite!

Looking for a safe, natural and reusable alternative to plastic wrap and aluminium foil? Join us for this fun, hands on workshop to learn how to make your own zero-waste beeswax food storage wraps for use at home! These perfect for encasing freshly cut fruit and vegetables, and sealing a variety of cooked food, and sauces in containers.

We are pleased to collaborate with Funan for this session. During this 2 hour session, textile artist, Agatha “Agy” Lee, and self sufficiency advocate, Olivia Choong, will guide you step by step in preparing a delicately scented beeswax mixture for application on any natural fabric, and evenly setting the mixture to create a beautiful beeswax wrap, ready for you to take home for immediate use!

Once you learn how simple it is to make your own beeswax wraps, you will no longer wish to buy (and throw) plastic wrap and aluminium foil.

Each ticket is priced at $85 per participant, and includes all materials. Limited seats available, so book your spot today!

What will I learn?

We will teach you how to make your own beeswax wraps at home!

Skills:
  • Adequate preparation of beeswax mixture
  • Even application on cloth
  • Uniformly setting the mixture on cloth
  • How to choose and prepare cloth for beeswax application

All materials provided!

  • Beeswax
  • Pine rosin
  • Jojoba oil
  • 2 sets pre-cut cloth per participant (one 5″ x 5″ for a mug and one 9″ x 9″ for a bowl)
What to expect?

In this 2-hour interactive session, expect a fun learning experience:

  • Hands-on learning with both facilitators
  • Relaxing, cosy and supportive environment
  • Minimum 5 pax to conduct the workshop

Date: 7 July 2018
Time: 11am – 1pm
Venue: Funan Showsuite, Junction of High Street and Hill Street
Price: $85
RSVP: Seats are limited to 10 only. Book your seat here!

**Please note: this workshop is not suitable for those who have allergies to beeswax, pine rosin and jojoba oil.

ABOUT OUR TRAINERS

Agatha “Agy” is a textile artist who is passionate about building environmentally aware communities. Her goal is getting people to reconnect with their clothes through techniques such as repair and transforming them into creative wearables (aka upcycling). Currently she is exploring embroidery and natural dyeing techniques as a way of reconnecting with our clothes, and nature too. Agatha can be found at Agy Textile Artist, and is a founding member of Connected Threads Asia and Fashion Revolution Singapore.

Olivia is a gardener, nature lover and believer of a sustainable society. She writes about gardening and sustainable living on her blog – The Tender Gardener, and raises awareness of environment-related issues through a non-profit environmental society, Green Drinks (Singapore), where she is the President and Co-founder. Very much a homebody, she likes to spend time in her garden, fussing over her chickens and watching bees in her apiary.

The post Upcoming Beeswax Wrap Workshop! appeared first on The Tender Gardener .

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John Chong is a jovial man and one who loves his bees. Out of pure passion, he decided to open BEE aMAZEd Garden, a bee education centre at Kampung Kampus, located in Yishun. I have since visited twice, and I really like his humble facility, which has a garden for bees, bee observation gallery, educational aids and an area for classes and workshops. For those keen on bees in Singapore, this is the place for you! My first visit was with my friend GK, and more recently, Waj (pictured above), a beekeeping enthusiast who recently relocated from London with his family.

BEE aMAZEd Gardens offers several education programmes including garden tours, bee education classes, and even basic beekeeping, see here for the list. In addition, the education centre also provides organisations a CSR opportunity to adopt a hive. So far, John has hosted school visits to his centre, and welcomes group bookings.

Upon entering the premises, you will first notice the flower garden which features bee-friendly plants, and then an observation gallery where you can get reasonably close to bee hives without the risk of being stung, followed by a talk/workshop space with educational aids.

John mainly uses hives based on the Kenyan top bar hive design, he had them specially made to suit our local Asian honeybee, Apis cerana. Recently he had a couple of Apis dorsata colonies but one was stolen by a monkey(?!) and the other flew into a mangosteen tree. Aside from being a wonderful educator, John has great anecdotes and is an entertaining storyteller.

While I was there I got to taste some of John’s honey label – My Honey, indeed it was very tasty. He also offers a honey tasting class so if you love honey, you should certainly check it out.

BEE aMAZEd Garden is located at 91 Lorong Chencharu, if you would like to visit, drop John a message at their website or contact him at info@beeamazed.com.sg. This is a great place to observe bees in Singapore!

The post Bee Amazed Garden: Learn About Bees & Beekeeping in Singapore appeared first on The Tender Gardener .

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Shopping for plants but wondering which ones are toxic for your cat and/or dog? I speak with veterinarian and plantswoman, Gloria Lee, who highlights edible and ornamental plants poisonous to cats and dogs and explains what pet owners should do if their pet is poisoned.

1. Are most plants safe for cats/dogs? Is there a rule of thumb when it comes to choosing safe plants?
Most plants are in general not systemically toxic to cats/dogs. The more commonly available plants in Singapore which happen to be toxic to cats/dogs, are generally locally irritating to the mucosa or lining of the gut, thereby causing unpleasant gastric signs of drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. In general, plants with sap can be considered not edible. To be safe, all plants should be considered potentially toxic, unless otherwise proven. This is especially so if you have puppies which have no safety valve when it comes to chewable things. Puppies are more likely to ingest large amounts of inappropriate materials, causing more serious problems

2. Which edible and ornamental plants should cat/dog owners completely avoid having around the home?
I cannot think of an edible plant which should be avoided around the home, unless you are referring to something like brinjals and tomatoes where the green unripe fruits are toxic. There are some highly, highly toxic plants which can kill outright eg- oleander, all bulbs belonging to the Lily family, Rangoon Creeper (Quisqualis indica), Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), Datura etc. Flowers in bouquets are sometimes more attractive to cats and dogs and also need to be considered, not just the plants themselves. Bouquets often involve exotic flowers not grown in Singapore or the tropics, and hence, do not ping the radar when investigating a potential source of toxicity.

The common plants found which cause gastric signs are often ‘house plants’ or corridor plants e.g. Dieffenbachia(dumb cane), Money plant, ZZ plant (Zamioculcas), Peace Lily, Mother in law’s plant, philodendrons- these only cause issues if ingested in sufficient quantities- which then depends on the size/weight of the pet.

3. What are some tell-tale signs that our cat/dog has been poisoned?
Lethargy, salivating/drooling, vomiting and/or diarrhea. Hopefully the owner would be aware that their plant has been torn to shreds or is MISSING (!)

4. What immediate actions can we take before bringing our cat/dog to the vet?
It is advisable NOT to delay the trip to the vet clinic and if possible, call ahead to let the clinic know AND to bring recognizable samples of the offending/suspected plant. Unfortunately, a lot of vets may not be knowledgeable about identification of plants. But having the correct ID can assist the vet in looking up information about possible antidotes. However, most toxic plants in general do not have specific antidotes. Identification of plants can be difficult since some have multiple common names/Chinese names etc and some have names not relevant to their actual Family eg Peace Lily is actually a Spathiphyllum belonging to the Family Araceae and not an actual Lily.

5. Do you regularly encounter visits from pet owners with cats/dogs that have been poisoned from plants?
Luckily no. We probably see more issues from ingesting foreign bodies e.g. durian seeds, socks and toxicity from food eg onion, chocolates, raisins.

From a gardening perspective, I have encountered suspected contact irritation to the skin from pets rubbing against a plant which had been sprayed with chemicals (fertilizer/insecticide), the fine hairs on Bamboos, ingestion of manure based fertilizer and of clay pebbles.

Gloria Lee is a veterinarian at Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Mandai) based in Singapore, and also the Honorary Treasurer of Singapore Gardening Society.

All images were taken from Pexel.

The post Plants poisonous to cats and dogs appeared first on The Tender Gardener .

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Announcing two soil workshops for May – a basic and an intermediate class in my backyard. There’s only room for 6, so book your tickets without delay!

Soil Class (Basic Level)
Relatively new to urban farming, and looking to demystify the subject of soil? Through this talk, learn soil basics and what your plants need to thrive instead of just survive. We will cover what you need to know when shopping for soil and how to grow healthy plants, book your seat without delay!
  
What you will learn in this session :
– What’s in soil?
– Different types of soil
– Physical needs of plants
– Nutrient requirements of plants
– Which soil to buy?
– Fertilisation
– Tips on growing seedlings
Date: 13 May 2018 (Sunday)
Time: 11am – 12.30pm
Venue: Butterfly Avenue
Cost: $45 per person
Tickets: Limited spaces available, so booking is essential – book your seat now!

Instructor Bio :

Olivia is a gardener, nature lover and believer of a sustainable society. She writes about gardening and sustainable living on her blog – The Tender Gardener, and raises awareness of environment-related issues through a non-profit environmental society, Green Drinks (Singapore), where she is the President and Co-founder. Very much a homebody, she likes to spend time in her garden, fussing over her chickens and watching bees in her apiary.

Soil Improvement Workshop (Intermediate Level)

To have healthy plants, we need to ensure there are good microbes in the soil to make fertiliser nutrients available to it. During this session, find out how to use fertilisers and soil amendments to improve soil structure, and mix your own nutritious potting soil. Participants can take home a sample size portion of seed raising mix and potting mix.

The cost is $49 per person, and with only 6 spaces available, booking is necessary. Reserve your spot without delay!

Date: 13 May 2018 (Sunday)
Time: 2pm – 3.30pm
Venue: Butterfly Avenue
Cost: $49 per person
Tickets: Limited spaces available, so booking is essential – book your seat now!

Instructor Bio :
Olivia is a gardener, nature lover and believer of a sustainable society. She writes about gardening and sustainable living on her blog – The Tender Gardener, and raises awareness of environment-related issues through a non-profit environmental society, Green Drinks (Singapore), where she is the President and Co-founder. Very much a homebody, she likes to spend time in her garden, fussing over her chickens and watching bees in her apiary.

The post May workshops: Soil Class & Soil Improvement Workshop appeared first on The Tender Gardener .

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Thinking of making compost at home but unsure where to start? Whether you are looking to creating your own compost for your plants or seeking a solution to food waste, there are several systems to choose from when it comes to composting in Singapore. Here is a list of systems available locally, there is one to suit your space, budget and comfort zone.

1. Smart Cara – This is for those who prefer a straightforward, high tech option and do not mind the $899 price tag. Made in South Korea, there is no need to sort your food waste and you can put raw and cooked food into it, unlike many low tech solutions. This unit holds up to 1kg of food waste and it takes 3-4 hours to convert food to compost, grinding and dehydrating it in the process. Measuring 31cm long x 27cm wide x 34cm tall, it doesn’t take much space in the home and is perfect for kitchens with space constraints. Get your Smart Cara from Ecoponics.

2. Bokashi Bin – This anaerobic system uses EMs, or Effective Micro-organisms that include beneficial yeasts and bacteria, to hasten the process of composting through fermenting food waste. When the bin is full, it is sealed and left alone to pickle, and after 10 -14 days, its contents will be turn into pre-compost, which needs to be added to a compost bin or heap to further compost for at least two weeks because it requires that amount of time for its acidity to neutralise. What is fantastic about the Bokashi Bin is you can compost eggs, dairy, cooked food, as well as raw and cooked meat. Like many low tech compost systems, the Bokashi Bin requires a balance of wet and dry ingredients so that its contents are not too moist, which can result in a bad odour. This system requires the continual purchase of Bokashi EMs, which is applied each time food is added to the Bokashi Bin. During the composting process, leachate is also produced and can be used as a nutrient booster for plants. The 19-litre Bokashi Bin is currently available at a special price of $90 at GreenSpade, find out more here.

3. Baba Compost Bin – This is suitable for those who travel often and are unable or unwilling to take care of a worm bin. An anaerobic composting system, this compost bin is most suitable for raw food waste and garden clippings, but not meat, eggs or dairy, and also produces leachate which can be diluted and applied to plants. Similar to the Bokashi Bin, the manufacturer recommends using this bin with their house brand Compost Maker, which contains microbes to speed up the decomposition process. This is not absolutely necessary, alternatively you can mix fruit and vegetable peelings and/or garden clippings with moist healthy soil to assist with composting, remember to balance the green (nitrogen) and brown (carbon) materials. A reminder – always dispose of diseased plant parts, and never add it to your compost bin! Place this in a warm or sunny spot to accelerate the breaking down process, and after two months, your compost should be ready. There is a chance that your compost might still be acidic and might require an aerobic phase for the pH to neutralise. This is one of the more affordable composting options in this list, the Baba Compost Bin is available in two sizes – 15L at $48, and 30L at $63. Get yours at World Farm!

4. Tumbleweed Tumbling Compost Bins– This is one for the urban farmers and gardeners! The Tumbleweed is an aerobic composting bin which makes mulch and compost in weeks – depending on how long you leave your garden clippings, dried leaves and fruit and veg clippings in there for. It is recommended to balance 50% garden waste (green and brown) with 50% raw food scraps in the tumbler. What makes this special is the ability to effortlessly turn its contents, and through this act of aeration, your organic waste is well mixed and breaks down quicker because oxygen is required for decomposition. This unit makes for a wonderful addition to community gardens, courtyards and backyards. Find a sunny spot to house this tumbler and turn it every couple of days. The Tumbleweed Compost Tumbler is available in 140 litres ($299) or 220 litres ($269) at Organic Origins.

5. Vermicomposting – A worm farm is a great composting system for those who have lots of raw fruit and vegetable food waste. This system gives you worm castings as well as worm leachate, both contain lots of micronutrients and beneficial microbes and help with soil conditioning. Worms don’t fancy oil, salt, meat, dairy and citrus, so this system is not suitable for those who are keen on composting food of this nature. The Tumbleweed Worm Cafe measures 57cm long x 39cm wide x 75cm tall,  and is available at Organic Origins – $250 including worms.

6. DIY – Prefer to make your own compost bin instead? You can easily put together your own compost bin for less than $20 by following these instructions.

I’d like to make a noteworthy mention of Black Soldier Fly (BSF) larvae. Featured in the media in recent months, it is  amazing at processing food waste. These larvae eat virtually anything but high cellulose items, highly recommended for dining establishments and homes that do a lot of cooking and have lots of food waste, as they can go through a lot of food in a short period of time – reportedly 1 sqm of larvae can consume 15kg of food per day. Unfortunately no one is selling BSF larvae kits commercially here yet, but it is available for purchase in Malaysia. Insectta, a BSF larvae farming enterprise located at Citizen Farm, accepts food waste on occasion, check their Facebook page for updates!

Composting in Singapore in a worthwhile activity and you’ll find it easy once you get the hang of it. I’d recommend composting to anyone because it diverts food waste from our incinerators, and turns waste into a resource. Not every household requires a bin but we can encourage our neighbours to give us their food waste or give them access to our bins. I hope you find a composter from this list that suits you!

The post Composting in Singapore: Which is the Best Composting System for You? appeared first on The Tender Gardener .

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It’s April, and I am holding two workshops this month – Soil Class (Basic Level) and Start a Herb Garden! More details below, as well as how to book your seat – only 10 seats per workshop!

   
Soil Class (Basic Level)
Relatively new to urban farming, and looking to demystify the subject of soil? Through this talk, learn soil basics and what your plants need to thrive instead of just survive. We will cover what you need to know to gain confidence in growing healthy edible plants, so join us!
  
Date: 15 April 2018 (Sunday)
Time: 11am – 12.30pm
Venue: orgayana stand @Terra Village at Parkland Green, East Coast Park (C1 Car Park)
Cost: $45 per person
Tickets: Limited spaces available, so booking is essential – book your seat now!
  
What you will learn in this session :
– Different types of soil
– Physical needs of plants
– Nutrient requirements of plants
– Which soil to buy?
– Fertilisation
– Tips on growing seedlings 
  
Instructor Bio :
Olivia is a gardener, nature lover and believer of a sustainable society. She writes about gardening and sustainable living on her blog – The Tender Gardener, and raises awareness of environment-related issues through a non-profit environmental society, Green Drinks (Singapore), where she is the President and Co-founder. Very much a homebody, she likes to spend time in her garden, fussing over her chickens and watching bees in her apiary.

Start a Herb Garden
Have you thought of starting a mini herb garden at home? Why not kickstart your journey with a crash course on herb growing?
  
Through this hands-on workshop, you will find out which herbs thrive in Singapore, learn how to grow your garden from stem cuttings, and some basic tips on caring for your herbs. Participants will leave with two potted herbs, notes and greater confidence growing edible herbs.
  
Date: 15 April 2018 (Sunday)
Time: 1pm – 2pm
Venue: orgayana stand @Terra Village at Parkland Green, East Coast Park (C1 Car Park)
Cost: $39 per person
Tickets: Limited spaces available, so booking is essential – book you seat now!

Instructor Bio :
Olivia is a gardener, nature lover and believer of a sustainable society. She writes about gardening and sustainable living on her blog – The Tender Gardener, and raises awareness of environment-related issues through a non-profit environmental society, Green Drinks (Singapore), where she is the President and Co-founder. Very much a homebody, she likes to spend time in her garden, fussing over her chickens and watching bees in her apiary.

The post April Workshops: Soil Class + Start a Herb Garden appeared first on The Tender Gardener .

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Joanna Chuah is a breath of fresh air, at only 22 years of age, she is a spirited young lady experienced in growing edible plants. While she specialises in edible flowers, she also shows a keen interest in medicinal plants. Her passion for plants is evident in the manner she speaks about them, there is an unmistakeable excitement in her voice as she introduces me to her garden. She lives in Ang Mo Kio, Singapore, where she grows a unique selection of plants on her rooftop garden, she also has an extended playground for plants in her grandmother’s backyard, and even grows some plants at her university.

My first interaction with Joanna was on Carousell, where there are many willing buyers and sellers of gardening related items. I was so impressed with the variety of plants on her shop and Instagram page that I requested to visit her without delay, I was certainly not disappointed. In her garden she is growing figs, starfruit, passionfruit (a variety found in Taiwan), banana, lemon, coffee, cinnamon, Japanese air yams, chilli, tomato, tulips, blue porterweed flowers, edible roses, among others.

Aside from plants, she sells produce which include edible flowers, fruit and vegetables. Joanna expands her collection of plants through propagation, some of them through a marcotting technique, commonly used for roses and fruit trees. It’s not all purely commerce for her though, she has previously dedicated 100% proceeds of produce for charitable causes that benefitted elderly people and her school’s janitors.

When it comes to fertilising her plants, Joanna mostly uses soil amendments like spent coffee grounds, tea leaves, and crushed eggshells, on rare occasions she uses organic chicken manure. She shared that her pots contain earthworms that help with soil conditioning also. Which then leads me to her penchant for breeding and raising of worms, caterpillars and moths – this is to do with her love of pollinators, and she keeps pollinator-friendly plants to cater to their needs.I spoke with Joanna to find out more about her love of gardening and where it all began.

1. How did you develop such a keen interest in plants at such a young age? And why edible flowers?

My childhood home had a back garden, and was located in a forested part of Singapore. I was always surrounded by nature. One day my grandmas friends visited the house with seeds, being a curious kid I planted all of them and took to the hobby almost immediately. I started off gardening to harvest and try what fresh produce tasted like. But my first crops were carrots, corn and lettuce because we had rabbits and bees which I was keen on keeping happy in the garden. The rabbits would eat the carrot tops & the bees would be attracted to the male corn flowers.

Now I’ve moved to growing native edible flowers because its an unexplored territory for me. Its also a niche area in horticulture – many people don’t know what flowers are edible or how to use them. Its also interesting as many Singaporean chefs/bakers are starting to look at local produce and the ways they can incorporate that into their dishes. Rather than import pansies, violas, etc, why not grow our own? Using native flowers has so much symbolic meaning as we are showing that we have an autochthonous and sustainable culinary scene.

Malabar Gooseberry

Blue Porterweed

2. You are wise beyond your years, where do you get all your gardening knowledge from?

Books and magazines – a lot of them. I have about 200 copies of National Geographic in my personal library. But I’d say a good 40% of my plant knowledge comes from listening and learning from gardeners, private plant collectors, farm and nursery owners.  You just have to ask and they’d be willing to share!

3. You have quite a collection of uncommon plants, how did this come about, and what do you look out for when selecting edible flowers and medicinal plants for your garden? Also, are there any more plants that you would like to add to your collection?

Because I started gardening from a young age, I’ve already grown most of the common edible plants. So I prefer to challenge myself by growing new plants. That doesn’t mean that I look to growing plants that are “exotic” i.e. better suited to foreign climates like blueberries, apples etc.

Rather, I’ve taken the unconventional path of reverting to TCM medicinal plants and native edible flowers to preserve our heritage.

I choose these plants according to their suitability to my location (whether they can tolerate sun & heat), use value (whether all parts of the plant are useful) and their aesthetic value (how beautiful the flowers/plants are).

Coffee plant

Cinnamon plant

Starfruit

4. You also enjoy breeding worms and pollinators like butterflies and moths, how did you develop a love for this activity?

As mentioned, I grew up with rabbits, dogs, fish, bees, earthworms and butterflies. So Ive seen the benefits they bring to the garden, but Ive also got a sentimental attachment to these creatures.

Many people who visit my garden are often shocked at how many lime caterpillars are on my lemon tree. I keep them on because they provide so many functions for the plant – they eat off old leaves (pruning function), fertilise (through their poop) and subsequently pollinate my flowers (when they become butterflies).

Also I strongly believe that all gardeners must necessarily believe that we co-exist with nature harmoniously – we shouldn’t be allowed to choose between what creatures should be in our garden. The reality is that every creature acts as a check on the other. Hence every creature is important for the garden’s ecosystem.

Pink Spider Flower

Rose

5. Do you have any advice for those who want to grow edible flowers? Which plants would you recommend?
I have a ritual for most of my edible flowers (including, roses, ixoras, blue pea, jasmines):
i. When in bloom keep them in shade so the flowers last longer.
ii. After the bloom dies off, cut off what was the bud. New shoots with flowers will grow out.
iii. Fertilise after pruning and every 2 weeks after.
iv. Leave the plant back under full sun/partial shade.

Tomato

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Agy and I are back for another beeswax wrap workshop in March, at a new venue!

Looking for a safe, natural and reusable alternative to plastic wrap and aluminium foil? Join us for this fun, hands on workshop to learn how to make your own zero-waste beeswax food storage wraps for use at home! These perfect for encasing freshly cut fruit and vegetables, and sealing a variety of cooked food, and sauces in containers.

We are pleased to collaborate with Funan for this session. During this 2 hour session, textile artist, Agatha “Agy” Lee, and self sufficiency advocate, Olivia Choong, will guide you step by step in preparing a delicately scented beeswax mixture for application on any natural fabric, and evenly setting the mixture to create a beautiful beeswax wrap, ready for you to take home for immediate use!

Once you learn how simple it is to make your own beeswax wraps, you will no longer wish to buy (and throw) plastic wrap and aluminium foil.

Each ticket is priced at $75 per participant, and includes all materials. Limited seats available, so book your spot today!

What will I learn?

We will teach you how to make your own beeswax wraps.

Skills:

  • Adequate preparation of beeswax mixture
  • Even application on cloth
  • Uniformly setting the mixture on cloth
  • How to choose and prepare cloth for beeswax application

All materials provided!

  • Beeswax
  • Pine rosin
  • Jojoba oil
  • 2 sets pre-cut cloth per participant (one 5″ x 5″ for a mug and one 9″ x 9″ for a bowl)

What to expect?

In this 2 hour interactive session, expect a fun learning experience:

  • Hands-on learning with both facilitators
  • Relaxing, cosy and supportive environment
  • Minimum 5 pax to conduct the workshop

Date: 25 March 2018
Time: 11am – 1pm
Venue: Funan Showsuite, Junction of High Street and Hill Street
Price: $75
RSVP: Book your seat here! Only a few spots left!

The post Our Next Beeswax Wrap Workshop! appeared first on The Tender Gardener .

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