Gardens By The Bay - Plants in The Flower Dome

This is a monthly post on 'Educational Places'. Every 4th week of the month I will post on local educational places we have brought AJ to.

The Flower Dome is differentiated into 9 sections - the Californian Garden, the Olive Grove, the Mediterranean Garden, the South American Garden, the South African Garden, the Australian Garden, the Succulent Garden, the Baobabs & the Flower Field.

When touring around the Flower Dome, ideally, one should tour 1 Garden at a time to observe the similarities & common characteristics of plants in each area. 

The Succulent Garden
Succulents are water-retaining plants adapted to avid climates & soil conditions.  They store water in their leaves, stems & roots.  The storage of water often gives the plans a swollen or fleshy appearance. 

Some succulents like Cacti have spines to defend themselves against predators which may be interested in sampling their juicy tissues.

Succulents' green  tissues absorb light to produce food (photosynthesis). 

Barrel Cactus

It is also called the Mother-In-Law's seat.  Yes, it is not a very kind labelling.  Who would like his/her mother-in-law to sit on it?

Wooly Cactus

The Wooly Cactus looks like cats' tail.  When the flowers bloom, it produces a rotting cabbage smell that attracts bats.  Its soft hair serves to protect the bats from scratching themselves while they aid in pollination. 

Tree Grapes

They are members of the Grape Vine family, which have thickened trunks to store water. 

During drought, they will lose their leaves & the stems will take over the function of photosynthesis.  Their delicate bark is translucent, allowing light to get into their green stems.  Their fruits are poisonous.

The Baobabs
The bulbous trunks of Baobabs give these trees an unusual form.  Also known as Bottle Trees,  Baobabs store water inside their swollen trunks to endure the harsh drought conditions of their environment.  Some species are bottle-shape.

The Baobabs can grow from 5-30 metres tall & their trunks can be between 7-11 metres in diameter.  They only flower at night, so they attract the nocturnal.  The fruits can help fight fever & settle the stomach.

Ghost Tree 

Ghost tree can up to 15 metres tall.  It is called Ghost Tree because it is often found in the graveyard.

The Australian Garden
Fire is a frequent occurrence in Australia.  Thus, plants in Australia have to adapt to survive in harsh climate like this with fire-resistant bark & lignotubers that develop into shoots after the fire . 

Grass Tree

Make a guess. Is this a tree or grass?

A grass tree is not a tree.  It is a special type of grass.  Its trunk is actually grass, the leaves of the grass stick together forming that.  It grows very slowly, at about 1-2cm per year but it can live up to 60 years old. It bears white & pink flowers.

Kangaroo Paws

Many spring wild flowers in Australia can lie dormant during Summer drought because they have bulbs or other underground storage organs.  The Kangaroo's Paw is 1 of them.  It has thick roots to store water.

There are a total of 11 species of Kangaroo's Paws.  As it is very eye-catching, it makes wonderful house plant.

South African Garden

Bird of Paradise

It is also known as Crane Flower.  Though there is no trunk, this shrub can grow as high as 2 metres.  It is especially popular with floral arrangement.

Forest Gardenia

It is of the Coffee family.  It has about 140 species.  The shrub can grow to 2-5 metres tall. It was used as a traditional medicine for skin including leprosy.

King Sugar Bush

This is the African National Flower.  It is fire resistance as it has dormant bud underground allowing it to survive bush fire.

South American Garden

Trithrinax is an ancient Greek name.  It is a type of palm that grows well in rocky soil & high latitude.  It is resistant to drought.  The leaves can be used to make shoes, hats, fans, etc.  The yellow or green fruits can be fermented to make alcoholic & honey beverage.

Chilean Wine Palm

Those in the conservatory are about 200 years old & are called the Incredible Hulk of the Palm World.  Both male & female flower on the same plant so it can produce its own seed, which is edible.

Their dried leaves can be used to make basket. The palm sap (about 300 litres per palm tree) produces palm wine or honey.

Monkey Puzzle Tree

It is the National Tree of Chile.  It can grow up to 40 metres tall & its trunk 2.5 metres in diameter.  The seeds are edible, the timber hard & excellent in quality.  It has prickly leaves growing on its branches. 

Mediterranean Garden

Canary Island Palm

It is also called Pineapple Palm because it looks like when trimmed.  It is a slow growing plant but it can grow up to 15-20 metres tall.

Cork Oak Tree

It has many species.  It will grow up to 250 years but it will take half a century for this tree to be profitable.  The bark is fire resistance.

Date Palm

This is a very useful plant that grow up to 15 metres tall.  The fruits is the date, & can be eaten by Muslims with yoghurt, milk & honey on the 1st day of Ramadan.  The sap can be made into jam, the timber can be used for construction & the oil can be used in cosmetics.

Promegranate Tree

The name in Latin means many seeded apple, & is commonly found in parks & landscape.  There are about 200 seeds in every fruit & the seed, which is high in anti-oxidant, can be eaten.  It can grow up to 5-8 metres tall.  It is also used to treat diarrhoea & intestinal parasites.

Olive Tree

Olive is a key crop species across Mediterranean Basin.  Olive oil is amongst the best oils for human consumption because it is monosaturated.  Olive oil is not only used as food but in the cosmetic & medical industries, to manufacture skincare products.

Photo Credit

Missed Tulipmania in 2013? It's back, bigger & better than before! Find yourself transported to a Dutch landscape as your discover not just a diversity of tulips but other bulbs, at the Flower Field. Learn more about the world of bulbs in this very special Garden Trail!  It is available from 14 Apr to 4 May.

Do consider guided tour or audio tour to gain more knowledge on the characteristics of the plants in both Flower Dome & Cloud Forest.  If you have missed my write-up on Cloud Forest, please click here.

In my post next month, I will write about the energy saving features of the 2 domes & the Supertree Grove.

[Media Invite] How Cool Is Your Poo?

I had always wanted to attend talks on colon cancer but, somehow, I always couldn't attend one.  When Abeille d'Or invited me to attend this talk on 19 Apr, I knew I must make time for it.  In fact, it turned out to be a really educational one.

As a parent, I always request to examine my son's poo.  By that, I don't mean taking them out to check.  I will observe the colour, the texture & the smell left in the toilet bowl.  This helps me to ascertain whether he has been eating correctly or whether there could be any signs of virus in the stomach (stomach flu, diarrhoea, etc) or constipation.

But, as adults, are we also that diligent in checking our poo?  I bet not many of us have 'premium type' of poo as shown in this picture.

I learnt from Dr. Haresh Kumar Kantilal that day that Colorectal Caner is the no. 1 cancer in Singapore & Malaysia now.  The primary causes of constipation can be faulty nutrition, ignoring call to eliminate, lack of physical activity, emotional & mental distress, extrinsic poisons & medications, & lack of adequate amounts of water.

What is scary: What goes in doesn't always come out.  Drugs (medication) can settle in the tissues of the body & the colon catches a good deal of these.  Laxative is not to be consumed on a regular basis as it is harmful.  So what is the remedy?

The different types of deformed colon

Dr. Haresh Kumar Kantilal recommended:
(1) Drink lots of water;
(2) Exercise
(3) Eat plenty of whole grains, high fiber foods, food that will spoil easily (i.e. non-processed food), go organic, low fat meat & poultry, & fish; &
(4) Eat lots of vegetables from the Brassica species. Broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts & kale belong to that species.

Seriously, it means you will have to eat a lot of vegetables. I really mean A LOT.  But, most of the meals served outside lacks that.  If you really really can't take in as much vegetable, at least drink it.

Yakult Health Foods has Maroyaka Kale Powder in sachet form which is very convenient for you to bring around. It is available for sale in Guardian Pharmacy.  Do make it a point to take baby step to help yourself attaining better health.  You may read up on my review of this here.

 Maroyaka Kale Powder

If you don't take vegetable, at least drink it!

After attending this talk, I tell you, I am sore afraid.  What's inside our body we can't see, what's happening inside we do not know.  The unknown is always scary.

What I'm going to do next is to contact my doctor to do a cancer marker test. I shall do this yearly.  This will help to detect early stage of cancer. 

If you are above 50, Health Promotion Board (HPB) has an Integrated Screening Programme for you.  Please click this link to know more about it. 

Following a good diet & establishing a regular health check routine are some simple ways we can help ourselves to better manage our health.  Don't wait till it is too late.

[Review] How To Think Like a Scientist

This is a monthly post on 'Book or Web/Mobile Application for Children'. Every 3rd week of the month I will post on a review on books that AJ has read or web/mobile application that he has tried on.

We started AJ on Science more systematically recently since he will be officially adding it to his school curriculum next year.  So we went through themes that are covered in the syllabus in Primary 3 & 4 as stated in Ministry of Education's website.  

Along the way, we realised that we may need to 'train' him to think like a scientist to appreciate Science better.  The father then came across this book & decided to borrow it. 

How To Think Like a Scientist is appropriate for Primary 3 & 4 students.  The book teaches children not to see things at face value, instead, they are recommended to use the 5-step scientific method taught in the book to verify them.  In a way, this helps the children in the development of logic & reasoning too.  

We went ahead to borrow 3 other books for him to read, which use the same 5-step scientific method to analyse a situation.  This series do help him to realise that one could almost use the 5-step scientific method anywhere.

Of course, reading is reading.  In order to cultivate the mindset of thinking like a scientist, one has to put the 5-step scientific method into practice regularly.  We are trying to cultivate that on him.  :)

[Review] Yakult Health Foods - Maroyaka Kale Powder


Have you eaten Kale before?  It is a vegetable with green or purple leaves.  Kale is very high in Calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K & beta carotene (provitamin A).  Kale also contains sulforaphane, a natural chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. 

Such power food, but it is not available in supermarket most of the time. :(

Maroyaka Kale Powder

I was introduced to Maroyaka Kale Powder by Yakult Health Foods (YHF) when it hit the shore recently.  I went for the product launch debut on 29 March 2014.  I must say, I am truly impressed with how YHF kale & barley grass were farmed, cultivated, harvested from the soil of Kunisaki Peninsular of Oita Prefecture, Japan. It is 100% organic - no preservatives, no additives, no artificial colourings & no pesticides were added/used.  The factory in Oita is ISO 9001 certified for quality assurance, ISO 22000 for food safety, ISO 14001 certified for environmental management & the health food it markets are all GMP certified.

No pesticides are used, so all bugs are removed by hand.

I eat fruits & vegetables, in fact, I love them.  I also take raw vegetables because they are a lot more nutritious than cooked vegetables.  In a way, I am used to eating raw vegetables, & I don't mind the taste. But, many people today lead a hectic lifestyle with the habit of eating out & not eating enough greens. Greens are essential in our diets to achieve optimal health and wellness. YHFs’ Maroyaka Kale offers consumers the goodness & benefits of genuine, premium kale, readily available for easy consumption. 

I tried 2 ways of consuming Maroyaka Kale Powder. The 1st way was to simply dissolve the powder into a glass of water (100ml).

A sachet of Maroyaka Kale Powder added to 100ml of water

I have to tell you, the taste of raw vegetable is real (after all, it is made from raw kale).  If you are not the type who take raw vegetables, you might not like the taste, so this way of consumption is not for you.

The other way I tried was to add the Maroyaka Kale Powder to yoghurt.  

A sachet of Maroyaka Kale Powder added to a small tube of yoghurt

In this case, the flavour of the yoghurt helped to disguise the taste of Maroyaka Kale Powder (raw vegetable) which some of you may find it easier on you.

If you are convinced that you should eat your greens yet lacking opportunity to, YHF's Maroyaka Kale Powder is a good way to supplement your greens intake.  All you need is to try out different ways of consuming it & settle for 1 or 2 that is easier on you.

If you don't take vegetable, at least drink it!

A box of Maroyaka Kale Powder contains 30 sachets, each sachet is 9g.  It is recommended to consume 1-2 sachets per day.  It is retailing at Guardian Pharmacy at $79.90 from now till 30th September 2014, after which the usual price of $87.90 will resume.

There is a Colon Health Talk coming up this Saturday 19 April 2014.  The seminar fee is $10, fully redeemable for YHF's products during the seminar.  Please call to register your interest.

YHF's range of health supplement

Photo credit: YHF facebook fanpage

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Man of God - Rev. (Dr.) Prabhudas Koshy

This is a monthly post on 'Inspiring Individual'. Every 2nd week of the month I will post on individual who has crossed our path & how we were inspired by him/her.

Jan - The Music Conductor, Adrian Tan

Feb - Investor, Entrepreneur, Author, Success Coach - Ismail Gafoor
Mar - 儿子的华文老师 - 颜清碹老师

I came to know Christ some 20 years ago, my current church is not my 1st church.  It was another sister church, much bigger in terms of premise & no. of worshippers.  I grew (in the Lord) very well there, the spiritual food was healthy & good, & the fellowship bonding was terrific.  I fostered many deep friendships there, the ties that still bind till today though we are mostly in different churches now.

There was absolutely no reason for me to leave that church.  I was serving happily there too.  However, the Lord has His plan.  Just as He has planned for me to come to know Him & be rooted in that 1st church.

Rev. Dr. Prabhudas Koshy (pastor Koshy) visited my then church often as we invited him to speak in our service or fellowship group meetings many times.  I liked his preaching since the very 1st time i heard it.  His sermons were sound, well rooted on the King James Bible & they often pierced my heart, convicted me of my sins & encouraged me in my walk with Christ.

When life made a turn that I had to be uprooted from my 1st church, the next better choice (humanly speaking) was the church that pastor Koshy was pastoring.  So I went.

I cannot be sure how long i have been in my current church, it could be 12 or 13 years.  Over more than a decade, I have witnessed the work of this man & his love for the Lord.  There were so many times so many things that we (members of the church) have done that broke his heart.  But he never once stopped interceding for us, encouraging us, edifying us & forgiving us.  He had numerous sleepless nights either because of our sins or because he has many works to complete.  In most days, he slept only 4-5 hours.  Without doubt, his health took the hit.  But, instead of resting more to restore his health, he worked harder.  He believed that the Lord will watch over him, as long as he continues doing what he is called to do, the good Lord will grant him grace.  He is indeed a living testimony of a man who lives by God's grace.  

Pastor Koshy is an Indian from India, a permanent resident in Singapore.  He came to Singapore to study in Far Eastern Bible College in 1987.  He served in my current church in 1990 & was ordained as a minister & pastor in 1994.  The church grew from 8 worshippers to 200+ over the years under his minister-ship.  It might not be a fantastic figure to boast about, compared to many other churches in Singapore, but we are most glad with the increased because the preaching has not been compromised, & the church did not ascribe to the worldly way of promoting itself to gain numbers.

He has always been a spiritual support to me, particularly in times of trial like this.  Whenever I have doubt in my decision making, he is the 1st person I would think of to seek advice to confirm if my decision is right with the Lord.

He is musically talented, though he did not have any formal training on that.  He put music to many verses in Psalms, so that we could sing the verses & have those verses kept in memory.  He has composed so many verses in Psalm that we have compiled them into a DVD.  You may watch it in youtube

That's not all, he composed spiritual songs as well.  The most recent one is this piece, which I so loved.  The choir church sang it during our church 26th anniversary in March 2014.

I thank the Lord for this man, this servant of God.  I pray that the good Lord will continue to watch over him, protect him, grant him health so that he may continue to do more for Him.  This month, pastor Koshy will be celebrating his 49th birthday.  I take this opportunity to wish him a Blessed Birthday!  The Lord bless you & keep you!

Blessed Birthday to you, pastor!

A Glimpse of Me from aged 2 to year 2000

Feeling a little nostalgic today, I dug out all my old photos & looked through them.  Fond memories still flashing my mind.  Here's a glimpse of me from aged 2 to year 2000.  Yes, the cuteness stopped there.

I guess I was about 2.  I love that tummy most!

I was 4, I think, at Haw Par Villa

About 5, the tallest was my sister

At 7, you know how moms liked flowers when taking photos? 

Celebrating my 10th birthday at home with neighbours

PSLE year.  I was a prefect!

At 14, acting cute

At 16, in my secondary school uniform

Sweet 18th birthday celebration. That was my beloved mom.

Aiyo, I can't remember how old I was but I confirmed it was 青春123!

Year 1992. Those were the days we were dying to look old mature.

Year 1994. Wah, so demure!  Photo taken in Brisbane.

Year 1997. With my 14YO Toyota when I was studying in Melbourne.

Year 2000. With my best friend from Melbourne.  I went visiting.

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