Monday, May 07, 2012

Cheng Tai Nursery, Singapore

During my trip to Singapore this month I visited Cheng Tai Nursery. It functions as a regular plant nursery where you can get your usual plants, but it also specialises in oriental style garden trees, penjing and bonsai. They have thousands of them and some are very impressive specimens. The average size of the trees was larger than I am used to. As you can see from the images in this entry a lot of the trees are taller than 1 meter. Anyway, I’ll let the pictures talk. A couple of images below are the largest oriental style garden trees in the nursery.

Images below show three main kinds of plants they use for large trees. They are (left to right): Wrightia, Podocarpus and pine.

There were also lots of large fig trees (image below).

Below more figs. They were very impressive.

I can confidently say that the king of bonsai in Singapore is Water Jasmine (Wrightia religiosa). See the images below.

Wrightia trees looked as impressive when they are defoliated. See images below.

Other large bonsai included something that looked like Casuarina.

There were trees of other plant species in the large bonsai category (images below).

And finally, they had plenty of smaller trees, which would come under small to medium bonsai size in Australia. As you can see from the close-up images of those trees (see images below), they have undergone quite a bit of training and refinement.

There were also a few larger ‘Chinese scholar rocks’ or ‘viewing stones’ for sale (see images below).

In one of the sheds at the nursery, I saw an elderly Chinese gentleman wiring a Podocarpus tree. I tried to start a conversation, but he couldn’t speak English. In a desperate attempt I tried to speak Malay and it paid off. I asked him how many people style bonsai trees at the nursery, because there were thousands of them. He said he is the only one. Even though all mundane tasks at the nursery are done by the Bangladeshi workers and he only styles the trees, it still remains a gargantuan amount of work. When he saw that I am genuinely interested in his work he took me to the back of the shed to show his personal collection. It was a lovely assortment of fairly refined shohin bonsai (see images below). Later on I was told that this gentleman is a well-known and respected figure in the local bonsai community.

To get to Cheng Tai Nursery take the train to Choa Chu Kang station and then get bus no. 975. There is a bus interchange right outside the station, but you need to take a 1 min walk to Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4, cross it and catch the bus over there. The bus stop where you get off is called Cheng Tai Nursery and you have to travel for about 4 or 5 stops.

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