The Airplant Expert: Lynnette Terh, Punggol Coral RC Garden

This is the first of a series where we get up close and personal with the Community Gardening personalities. In this issue, we had a chat with Lynnette Terh from Punggol Coral RC Garden. She’s an ardent airplant enthusiast and a strong advocate for community gardening.

Edgefield Plains is perhaps not a particularly well-known part of Singapore. And yet, this serene housing estate is perhaps one of Punggol’s best kept secrets. It is home to a community garden that has, over the years, blossomed into a green haven that its community is proud of.

Ask any of the community gardeners and they will identify airplant enthusiast Lynnette Terh as their ‘ringleader’. When their garden was first started in 2006, it was hardly a little more than a few raised beds and DIY wooden trellises where the gardening enthusiasts would grow edible plants, Hoyas and Orchids. Today, the beautiful, lush garden makes it hard to imagine that it began with so little.

“We 'DIYed' what we could, and saved our own pocket money to buy what could not be recycled or built,” said Lynnette, cheerfully. “Much of our resources went into improving the soil – not to mention the time and effort that we spent during the weekends to work the compost into the soil.”

Lynnette and the rest of the Punggol Coral RC gardening group share some traits common to successful gardeners: enthusiasm, determination, and a capacity for hard work. These steered them to a Platinum award during the 2010 Community In Bloom (CIB) awards.

Their community garden, a lush green oasis, blends creativity and beauty with functionality. Five years since its humble beginnings, it now yields some edibles and herbs alongside an amazing collection of airplants, orchids and even specimen-sized staghorn ferns. Lovely sunflowers grace the edge of the garden’s fence now and then, and it even features a pond in which the gardeners rear fish and keep lovely aquatic plants.

The journey was not an easy one, but the community gardeners never gave up. “Sure, there were issues. We had to look for a water source since we didn’t have a piped-in water supply. But looking at the kind of harvest that we get to share with our neighbours, and the relationships we’ve built up over the years, I would say that the journey was well worth it!” Lynnette shared.

With every visit, there’s always something new to discover. “The group members are always trying out something innovative,” said Lynnette, who is also known for her love of airplants. For her own contributions to the community gardening scene, Lynnette was also selected as one of the Community In Bloom ambassadors. Her face lights up at the mention of her favourite plants, and she can’t help but show off her airplants in the hope of getting you interested in her hobby. “Get this one! It’s a Tillandsia capitata ‘Peach’ - you’ll absolutely love the colour.”

So, what’s next for Lynnette and her merry band of community gardeners?  Without any hesitation, she answered like a true leader and ambassador: “I’d love to help all the groups in Punggol North win a Platinum in the upcoming CIB awards!”

By Lily Chen

Lynnette with Mr Lim, one of the many community gardeners who lovingly tend the garden alongside her.

The garden’s specimen-sized Staghorn ferns and Spanish moss are the result of many years of tender, loving care by the community gardeners.

Airplants, edibles and orchids grow side by side in this lush oasis in Punggol.

One of Lynnette’s stunning airplant specimens.

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