Singapore, 6 June 2012 - Residents now have more chances to revel in and appreciate quality gardens in their neighbourhood. At this year's Community in Bloom Awards, the number of Platinum Awards given to community gardens has nearly doubled. This shows a significant improvement in the quality of community gardens and their level of community participation.
Set up in 2005 by National Parks Board (NParks), the biennial Community in Bloom Awards recognises excellence in gardening efforts by community groups in public and private housing estates, educational institutions and organisations. Since 2008, community gardens have been ranked into achievement bands -Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze -so that participants are aware of their standing and are better able to make improvements to their gardens. The number of Platinum gardens has been increasing since - from 13 in 2008 to 27 in 2010. This year, it went up to 47.
Gardeners are thinking of increasingly innovative ways to enhance their gardens. For example, employees at Singapore Technologies Kinetics, a participant in the Organisations category, creatively used helmets, PVC pipes and storage boxes to transform the factory grounds into a blooming garden. Thomson Sin Ming Gardens Residents Committee not only grows lush, ornamental plants, but also vegetables and fruits, which are regularly harvested and shared among neighbours. The gardeners also cleverly made their own trellises and footpaths using inexpensive and recycled materials.
Community gardeners are also reaching out to and collaborating with other groups to promote gardening. For example, Ivory Heights Condominium Garden, which had consistently won the Platinum Award since 2008, exchanged gardening ideas and plants with its neighbour Al-Mukminin Mosque. The latter recently expanded its gardening reach and worked with neighbouring groups like Jurong Central Zone Residents Committee and Lakeside Neighbourhood Committee to set up a Streetscape Garden along Jurong East Central just in front of the mosque building (a Streetscape Garden is a linear garden along heartland streets that enhances visual aesthetics, provides shade and creates communal bonding spaces).
Chief Judge, Mr Tan Jiew Hoe, who is also President of the Singapore Gardening Society, said, "The standard of community gardens has improved significantly over the years. Gardeners are getting better at improving their garden design and maintaining their gardens well. Apart from providing a visual feast for all, gardening is now an enjoyable and sustainable activity that the young and old can benefit from."
Mr Ng Cheow Kheng, NParks' Deputy Director, Horticulture and Community Gardening, elaborated, "Community involvement has also taken on different heights. We have observed that community gardeners are taking greater ownership of their gardens and expanding their reach. One example is the Bukit Gombak Hillview Gardens Neighbourhood Committee. Apart from maintaining an exceptional garden, the residents have taken it upon themselves to sustain an interim neighbourhood park. In realising our City in a Garden vision, this is the kind of self-help community network which we want to see - where individuals and groups take the initiative to make their surroundings liveable and endearing."
This year, 257 community gardens took part in the competition, including 114 entries from public housing estates; 22 from private housing estates; 68 from educational institutions; and 53 from organisations.
In addition to the achievement bands, special awards - four "Best Community Garden", four "Best New Community Garden" and three "Environment and Biodiversity" - are given in honour of the exemplary achievements by community gardening groups. These Gardens will receive $1000 cash in addition to a plaque each. Please refer to Annex A for the results of these special awards.
The CIB Awards judging panel consisted of 12 representatives from government agencies, professional bodies and interest groups, including guest judge Mr Ted Blowes, who is the founding member of Communities in Bloom International (Canada).
The awards will be presented to all gardening groups during the Singapore Garden Festival 2012 at Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Centre in July:
(i) 7 July 2012, 3pm
- Special awards: "Best Community Garden", "Best New Community Garden" and "Environment and Biodiversity"
The guest-of-honour is Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development.
(ii) 14 July 2012, 8.30am
- Platinum and Gold awards
- Silver and Bronze awards
- Certificates of Appreciation
The guest-of-honour is Mr Poon Hong Yuen, Chief Executive Officer, NParks.