|My corridor garden in May 2017.|
Taking an old sage's advice, "if there's a will, there's always a way", I felt my ignorance should not be a deterrent because I could access a wealth of free knowledge and advice from the Internet like Facebook groups. Indeed, the modern internet is a miracle for human progress and enjoyment.
In my halcyon days, I spent my school holidays in my maternal grandmother's large sprawling farms, filled with tropical fruits, flowers, and roses that she nurtured with immense labor and love for the enjoyment of her grandchildren but she never allowed her grandchildren to dirty their hands at gardening.
Three years ago, I decided to have my own garden perhaps to kill my unproductive time in my twilight years rather than other novel aspirations.
I stayed in an ordinary HDB apartment without the luxury of a balcony, lawn, or plots of land like my maternal grandmother had, but I've two meters wide and five meters long common corridor with about six hours of morning sunlight.
More importantly, I have a wonderful young couple as a neighbor and they thankfully empathized with this old man's wish to keep himself busy with fulfilling activities in gardening.
Nevertheless, I always keep my corridor neat and clean with no stagnant water or cluster of rubbish for mosquitoes and cockroaches to raise their unwelcome families. My main worry is troubles from my town council's environment inspectors.
I reckoned my neighbors could also enjoy the greeneries and fragrant aroma of my garden as they passed by daily through an otherwise bare concrete corridor.
Incidentally, through the years I collected a few beautiful antiques looking flower pots that were discarded at my neighborhood junk bins. I never used them till the day I found my inspiration to start gardening.
At the beginning of my gardening adventure, I build different platforms and racks along the corridor to place my flowering pots.
After I erected and painted the brick racks and platforms, I had no idea what to plant, where to plant, what are the plant's needs, and how I like my garden to look like. Every single day thereafter I spent thinking, learning from Internet resources, and planning.
Initially, I planted a few easy growing flowering plants. I have no idea what were the names of the plants but when they survived and started to bloom, it brought me immense satisfaction, confidence, and a belief that I might actually have green fingers to begin a journey of faith in gardening.
A month later I decided to add more racks below my windows so that I have more planting space.
As I drove my cab around Singapore roads, private estates, and public parks, I scouted and stole suitable plants and cuttings for my infant garden. After a while, I found this illegal way of collecting plants rather nerve-racking and gave up.
At one time, I wanted to change my original plan of growing only flowering plants to include food and fruit plants but this ambitious endeavor failed miserably. All my vegetable and fruit plants died after germination.
Over the years, I have made a few mistakes, overcame a few but continue to challenge myself to perfect my skills. My aim is to know all my plants and deliver the right growth condition to them so they in turn reward me with beautiful and healthy flowers and fruits.
So here I am.
Today I have about 100 different plant types in my little garden. Fortunately, most are easy to care and require little or no attention other than occasional fertilizing and pruning but I like the challenge of growing my flowers from seeds or cuttings instead of buying from nurseries and flower shops.
As I regularly arrange my plants to form a tidy pattern and to get the best of the sunlight, I take pride in knowing that my corridor garden is the prettiest and largest in my block of apartments.
I'm happy to discover this enjoyable recreation in my retirement days and I pray for many more years to look after my little garden and enjoy the "fruits" of my labor.
Gardening had somewhat transformed my lifestyle and daily routine. Although I love nature, I was never a gardening person and my knowledge of horticulture is elementary. But on my retirement days, I found gardening is something physically easy yet spiritually enriching.
Gardening is also fun and I encourage those who are about to retire or already retired and have some space to develop a small garden.
Whether it's for pleasure or for fruits, it will help you to spend your time fruitfully.
I wish I had started several years earlier but like in many other things, it's never too late ....to start gardening.