Garden in the sky: Uncle's love for gardening bears fruit at HDB flat

PHOTO: Facebook/Wan Jun

Gardening is one of Steven Tan's favourite pastimes. But living in a high-rise HDB flat brings with it an obvious obstacle.

No plot of land? No problem.

Tan built himself a 'garden in the sky', it's not quite the Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay but still very impressive.

On Aug 13, his daughter took to Facebook to share some photos of the fruits of her dad's labour.

My Papa loves farming. He does not own a plot of land but that does not stop his green fingers from working their magic...

Posted by Wan Jun on Friday, August 13, 2021

In the caption, she mentioned her father's innate love for gardening and how not owning a plot of land didn't "stop his green fingers from working their magic in the comfort of his home".

Along his HDB flat's window ledge and common corridor, Tan has grown an impressive variety of fruits and vegetables – green grapes, mini apples, rockmelons, and white bitter gourds among others.

She ended her post, sneaking in a cute little hashtag #mypapaissocool.

Based on the responses online, many seem to agree with her. The Facebook post has been shared 2,800 times and has 130 comments where many expressed awe at the man's garden.

Looking through the comments, it was clear that the white bitter gourds were turning quite a few heads.

Screengrab from Facebook/Wan Jun
Screengrab from Facebook/Wan Jun

One netizen enquired on where to get the seeds while another was surprised at the sight of the white bitter gourds, initially figuring it was only seen in Taiwan.

The uncle's green fingers also showed in the form of a rockmelon he grew.

There were photos of him proudly holding up the fruit before cutting it in half to display its juicy inside.

With the fruit neatly sliced and laid out on the kitchen table, the inevitable question came — how sweet was it?

His daughter affirmed the fruit's sweetness, with words capitalised and emojis added for punch. 

Screengrab from Facebook/Wan Jun

Gardening tips

With so many netizens asking for gardening tips, it was inevitable that a Q&A with the master himself was in the works. 

In the short video posted on Aug 17, Tan's grandkids scurried around his home, dropping questions for him to answer.

Over the weekend, Mama posted about how Gong Gong built his own amazing garden in the sky ☁️ and many people liked the...

Posted by The Five Magic Beans on Monday, August 16, 2021

Addressing some concerns about the fruits and vegetables possibly falling from height, Tan explained that he created a sturdy structure with bamboo sticks, metal rods and cable ties to keep them in place.

"See, it won't shift when pushed," he said in the video as he showed how he ensured a net is made for each fruit to prevent them from falling. 

When his grandkids asked what is the most difficult thing he's grown, Tan immediately pointed to their mum: "This one. Your mum is the most difficult thing to grow."

In addition to the love he's received online, Tan's unusual garden has also attracted a separate fan base.

Birds discovered his garden and decided to build a cozy nest inside. According to his daughter, the birds are Tan's 'grandbabies'.

The Housing Development Board states that residents have a civic responsibility when it comes to placing or hanging objects within or outside a flat in a way that poses a threat to public safety.

In this case, Tan seems to have taken the necessary steps required to ensure the safety of those within his community.

The National Parks Board (NParks) oversees gardening etiquettes, be it in homes or the community.

In order to maintain safe and enjoyable gardening for all, NParks' good corridor gardening practices guide provides tips on how to grow edibles in high-rise buildings.

For edible climbers, such as bitter gourds, the use of a trellis is suggested in order to help the plant withstand strong winds.

ALSO READ: 7 food items that you can easily regrow at home - and save on your grocery bill

amierul@asiaone.com