Lush tropical palms, graceful ferns, vibrant orchids and sophisticated landscape design make The Hidden Beauty of Kranji one of the most eye-catching gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015. You can just imagine this oasis as a secret urban escape, where the stresses of the day simply fade away into the ferns and the foliage, all to the tranquil sound of the multi-tiered waterfall as it cascades down a living wall, built to resemble a cliff face.
The Hidden Beauty of Kranji is a silver gilt winner at RHS Chelsea 2015. It is the first appearance at the show for acclaimed tropical garden design duo John Tan and Raymond Toh. Kranji is the only ‘green’ suburb of Singapore, a city where land is at a premium and green space a luxury. Co-designer John Tan informs us while this is a ‘garden in the city’ rather than a garden city, the philosophy behind The Hidden Beauty of Kranji is conservation, preservation and the co-existence of modernity with nature. It is also to show the diversity of what could be lost if we do not consciously preserve our precious green spaces.
The Seating Area
The Hidden Beauty of Kranji is a tropical-inspired garden of sensitivity, creativity and great attention to detail – the longer you look, the more you discover. The centre piece is a circular shaped, living seating area surrounded by lush greens. It is crowned with a green roof garden containing a circular glass window filled with water, which creates a wonderful diffusion of light when the sun shines through. Climbers cascade downwards to mirror the waterfall, the other dominant feature in this garden. The vertical metal strips framing the seating area signify modern Singapore and city life, but blending in with the garden so as not to disturb the delicate eco-system.
As one sits, to the left, a three-tier waterfall cascades down a three metre high living wall, packed with soothing green ferns and the odd splash of exotic red foliage. What makes this living wall unique is the non-linear form of the frame. It is undulating rather than flat and this gives the three streams of water a truly cascading feel.
The use of colour throughout this garden is subtle with splashes here and there rather than loud displays. Orchids adorn the garden pathways, catching the eye’s attention as the path meanders like a river through the lush tropical plants and towards the cascading trio of waterfalls in front of a living wall of ferns.
The vertical dimension throughout is provided by diverse trees such as tall tropical palms, ficus and some species less well known in Western Europe. One of these is the evergreen Cerbera Tree – John informs us it has fruits the size of tennis balls which weigh as much as a baseball. Consequently, the Singapore council had banned them from public places. In this garden, Raymond and John found a place for it – in the interests of preservation.
The garden boundaries or outer borders are marked using felled tree trunks, a subtle feature, once again embracing conservation and sustainability.