Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hunting and gathering in Singapore

 
Despite the name of my blog, I have to admit my gardening is down to a minimal level - I water my pots when I remember and hope that the monsoon-like downpours take care of the rest. The other day, I sprinkled some organic slow-release fertilizer into all of them, and felt so virtuous that I treated myself to a glass of white afterwards.
 
A wonderful pair of old gatepost elephants - Charlie, the owner of "Junkie's Corner" didn't want to sell them to me as he said they are broken, but I might have to talk to him again - they look so gentle and thoughtful with their lifted trunks.
 
I've never been a great container gardener besides one huge potted lemon tree that I grew and carefully nurtured while in Sweden - the seeds came from a couple of lemons that I took with me from my tree in Albert Park in Melbourne (I still miss picking fresh lemons daily from the extremely prolific tree, it was such a treat). Otherwise, I enjoy more growing things in ground and seeing how they develop (hopefully) while the time flows by, but this does not mean that I don't appreciate a nice, preferably big pot or other garden ornament when I see it.
 
Up left, more gatepost decorations: a selection of foo lions that I've written about earlier. And under them, large water jars with dragon decorations - I bought a similar, large antique one for a while ago and just love it. And the roadside was full of dragon pots planted with various plants - pots planted with mandarins and kumquats were typical during the Chinese New Year celebrations, which I've also written about earlier.
 
A couple of days ago, I went along a tour guided by Singapore's national treasure Geraldene Lowe where she took us to several hard-to-find and off-the-beaten-track antique and junk stores - exactly the kind of places I enjoy, where things are dusty and dirty, and where you need to see the potential yourself instead of being fed carefully staged oriental compositions especially designed for us "expats" in mind, as so often is the case in Singapore. Some of the ladies on the tour felt a bit overwhelmed because of the same thing - they talked about how difficult it is to see the things in their own homes when they are so dirty - but my inner hunter woke up directly, looking for treasures for a future garden somewhere. And I am lucky to have storage room for some more garden stuff (despite that I can still recall the looks I got from the moving guys in Seattle when I asked them to pack all my pots in the container and to be careful not to break any), so even if I am trying hard to keep to my minimalist mantra otherwise, this is the area where I am making an exception...
 
And - if you are the least interested in the history and architecture of Singapore, do check out the wide variety of tours that Geraldene does - her knowledge of Singapore is just incredible and she is such an enjoyable storyteller; you will never look at Singapore with the same eyes again!

A sculpture representing the "Three wise monkeys", embodying the Confucian maxim of "See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil"... although not quite antique, this otherwise charming sculpture got to follow me home, and reminds me from the living room balcony of the wise principle it represents...


The shop is housed in enormous old stables with a very interesting roof structure - the carefully tiled layers keep the rain away while still letting the breeze through.

Charlie has an enormous collection of garden decorations and other elements from the 1920's and 30's  to the 60's - here, art deco containers mingle with concrete stools and bird baths in the shape of sea shells. 

Of course, some of the stuff was complete kitsch, like these "bambis" and the scary plastic "man", but Charlie told that the "bambis" were actually very rare to find today, and beautifully made in concrete and hand painted. Though tempted, they didn't follow me home this time :-), but I think they would look wonderful by a strict, architectural house...


Of course, Buddha heads are the new garden gnomes; you can't get away from them today wherever you are in the world... and so complete no-no for me, which this guy seems to know as he continues his afternoon nap while I browse past.

Two huge old, traditionally painted pots, bigger than baby baths... all to heavy to be dragged anywhere, even if they would look wonderful against the sea in my garden in Sweden. 





One more picture from the outside - and I haven't even shown any pictures from inside the stables, completely crammed with furniture and all things possible from the past decades. Lots of junk, lots of fun (and some pearls). For opening times, call Charlie on 9791 2607.

2 comments:

College Gardener said...

A lot of those things look fantastic... I wish such treasures were a bit easier - cheaper! - to come by here. I do get to Malaysia fairly regularly, but lugging large ceramics around literally half the globe is not a very appealing proposition, especially on a 23kg luggage allowance...

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

There are so many goodies here, for all kinds of tastes... it is a bit special as I live here and will get a container home, so I can actually buy a couple of nice pieces. I'm just trying really decide what things I want to live with in the long term, not just buy and buy...