The start of the year is a great time to explore and pick up new hobbies. For some inspiration, Annabel Tan speaks to three of our society friends about their recently discovered joys.
At the end of 2020, Sonia Ong became the proud owner of a 102-year- old shophouse on Rowell Road. The founder of Singapore Wellness Association is breathing new life into the space she calls Baroque House, which she envisions to be a vibrant hub for art and culture. Along with fixing up the pre-war house, Sonia took up the task of landscaping the courtyard, kick-starting her intense crash course in gardening.
How has your gardening journey been so far?
I must admit that I did not have green fingers to start with. I am quite proud that for the first time in my life, I have herbs and plants that have survived long enough for me to begin to deal with pests, and that the plants survive these pests too.
You knew you were addicted when…
Visiting nurseries and plant shops became a necessity and I have to consciously stop myself from buying too many plants.
What has been your most fulfilling gardening project yet?
My mint plant. I have killed many pots throughout my life and the one I bought for Baroque House almost died but came back to life. Along with my rosemary plant and a few other herbs, I can truly say I have a herb garden now. My mint plant is also the source of our house mint tea served fresh from the garden.
What are some of your gardening rituals?
One of the first things I do when I visit the shophouse is always to water all the plants. I allocate monthly evenings to prune or repot. It is therapeutic.
What do most people not know/least expect about gardening as a hobby?
It is not about talent like I used to think but paying attention to many conditions. Every plant is different; they have very different temperaments and this is further complicated by the pot, soil and environment you put them in and their “feelings” about that.
Where do you go from here?
I already have a little orangery with lemon and pomelo trees. Vegetables next, perhaps.
This story first appeared in the February 2022 issue of Prestige Singapore.
ART DIRECTION: AUDREY CHAN | PHOTOGRAPHY: JOEL LOW | HAIR & MAKE-UP: ZOEL TEE