Chelsea Flower Show 2015 – The Hidden Beauty of Kranji

In 2005, Singapore announced plans to distinguish itself as a ‘City in a Garden’. The projects that followed, such as The Gardens by the Bay, have attracted global attention, rivalling our very own Eden Project in terms of scale and ambition. The city’s long established botanical gardens have always been one of my favourites, brimming with lush foliage and thousands of orchids. Singapore’s national flower is a pretty pink vanda named V. ‘Miss Joaquim’, so it seemed only fitting that Raymond Toh and John Tan, designers of the Hidden Beauty of Kranji garden at last week’s Chelsea Flower Show, should include this special orchid in their scheme.

The Hidden Beauty of Kranji, Chelsea Flower Show 2015

It’s not often that designers are brave enough to submit a garden with such a distinctly tropical theme and it did feel very much as if this garden ought to be under glass or in a fancy hotel atrium. There was little for the average gardener to take away in practical terms, but there was plenty of admiration for the distinguished design duo’s colourful composition. To plant palms and orchids outside in London during May takes some nerve and at night the entire garden had to be wrapped in a protective layer to keep out the cold. On the first day of the show the garden was taking a bashing from the wind and rain, but the bright colours never lost their sparkle. The contrast between this and the Laurent Perrier Chatsworth Garden, just a few yards away, was a dramatic one.

The Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, October 2012

I particularly enjoyed the narrow waterfalls emerging from a wall of lush greenery. They were clearly inspired by The Gardens by the Bay (above, photographed in October 2012, shortly after it opened) and roared satisfyingly as they plunged into the foliage fringed pool below.

 

The Hidden Beauty of Kranji, Chelsea Flower Show 2015

A pavilion at the centre of the garden offered shade from the not-so-tropical sun. The roof was planted with creepers and tree ferns (Cyathea arborea), representing Singapore’s quest to increase the number of roof gardens and green walls around the city. Kranji, the north western suburb after which the garden is named, is a low-rise, well-to-do neighbourhood with a horse racing circuit, organic farming collective and farmer’s market. All very middle-class. Great pride is taken in the city’s natural environment and this garden echoes the care and attention lavished on public spaces that I’ve experienced first hand each time I’ve visited Singapore.

The Hidden Beauty of Kranji, Chelsea Flower Show 2015

The Hidden Beauty of Kranji was not to everyone’s taste, but deserved a silver gilt medal for pushing Chelsea’s boundaries eastwards. No doubt in Saturday’s sell off a lucky few went home with some choice specimens for their conservatory. Here’s the full plant list:

SHRUBS

  • Alocasia ‘Calidora’
  • Alocasia ‘Polly’
  • Alpinia purpurata
  • Calathea insignis
  • Calathea ‘Medallion’
  • Cordyline fruiticosa
  • Costus woodsonii
  • Ficus elastica
  • Ophiopogon japonica
  • Philodendron ‘Imperial Red’
  • Philodendron pertussem
  • Philodendron selloum
  • Philodendron xanadu
  • Sansaveria trifasciata laurentii
  • Spathiphyllum ‘Lima’
  • Spathiphyllum ‘Sensation’
  • Schefflera arboricola
  • Aeschynanthus lobbianus
  • Dracaena cintho ‘Vertakt’
  • Calathea orbifolia
  • Ananas champaca
  • Aglaonema ‘Cretea’

TREES / PALMS

  • Areca lutescens
  • Vietchia merrillii
  • Cerbera manghas
  • Musa tropicana
  • Rhapis excelsa
  • Cocos nucifera
  • Cycas revoluta (below)
  • Ficus lyrata
  • Schefflera amate
  • Cyathea brownii
  • Cyathea arborea
  • Pandanus tectorius var. sanderi
  • Licuala grandis

The Hidden Beauty of Kranji, Chelsea Flower Show 2015

GROUND COVERS

  • Scindapsus aureus
  • Calissia repens
  • Microsorum diversifolium
  • Nephrolepsis exaltata
  • Humata tyremannii
  • Asplenium nidus
  • Platycerium bifurcatum

VERTICAL GREENERY

  • Tradescantia zebrina
  • Asplenium antiquum
  • Chlorophytum comosum ‘Ocean’
  • Tillandsia usneoides
  • Philodendron scandens
  • Peperomia angulata
  • Syngonium red and pink
  • Syngonium ‘Pixie’
  • Sellaginella

The Hidden Beauty of Kranji, Chelsea Flower Show 2015

ORCHIDS

  • Aranda ‘Singa Gold’
  • Dendrobium ‘Enobi Purple’
  • Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’
  • Dendrobium ‘Asian Youth Games Singapore 09’
  • Renanthera ’20th Singapore WOC 2011′ (red orchid, below right)

The Hidden Beauty of Kranji, Chelsea Flower Show 2015

The Hidden Beauty of Kranji, Chelsea Flower Show 2015