Johor Green hosts annual garden party for enthusiasts

Johor Green founder Chris Parry (third from left) with guests from the Singapore Consul Office JB, admiring plants in the Tropical Cottage Garden. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Peggy Loh, May 29, 2015. 

Johor Green, a group of people in Johor Baru who aims to inform, inspire, influence, encourage and connect with the community towards a greener Johor, recently held their annual Garden Party. Guests at the party themed “It’s Time” exchanged views and ideas of garden design elements and precise plant choices.

They were introduced to three garden areas, each with very different personalities and planting choices: a Native Garden that showcases flora native to the South East Asia region, a Dry Garden that encourages potential gardeners to use a hostile, dry and sunny space that requires little watering and maintenance, and a Tropical Cottage Garden filled with useful, edible, medicinal and decorative plants.

Since the inaugural Garden Party held three years ago, the three gardens have grown fairly mature and were able to show off their potential.

The party also showcased sustainable methods like organic gardening.

An interesting talking point was a rainwater harvesting tank, installed by DIY enthusiasts, Alex Kee and Koh Jit Huat, who talked to guests about the benefits of installing a similar system in their own garden.

“Every home should seriously consider having a rainwater harvesting system,” said Cheng Yun Wan, who already has plans to build this feature in her own home.

After the recent two-day experience when water supply was disrupted in various parts of Johor Baru, Cheng wanted to be sure that she would not be at the mercy of such a situation again.

Another guest, Sharon Teh, said she was inspired to make better use of the garden in her semi-detached home.

“It’s so creative and refreshing,” she said, impressed by the creative use of space in the Tropical Cottage Garden and where decorative solar lanterns provide light at night.

“My husband also enjoys gardening and we want to plant fruit trees so that we can enjoy eating the fruits,” she added.

Johor Green regularly hosts workshops, outdoor classes and nature walks with students to encourage youngsters to get closer with plants to learn more about the roles we play in the ecosystem.

Students who participated in these activities were at the Garden Party as volunteers and drew attention to the newly set up website: Straits View Garden.

This website is being developed with more details about garden plants and planting techniques and will become a reference tool for further engagement with gardening enthusiasts.

“It’s heartening to see how Johor Green brought together a community of like-minded people to talk about environmental conservation, raise awareness and spread more interest on sustainable issues,” said Singapore consul-general for Johor Baru, Ian Mak.

Johor Green also believes that art is a powerful way to engage people with ideas and emotional responses to our environment and its problems.

Two exhibitions were presented in the form of an Ikebana show themed “Summertime” and three exciting exhibits in “A Time for Action,” a showcase of collaborative works with artists and voices, with a strong message to rally civil society to become more aware and proactive in dealing with environmental issues.

The Ikebana exhibition was a collaboration between Johor Green and Ohara Circle, a study group in the Ohara school of Ikebana.

“A Time for Action” featured a digital wall art entitled, “No Smoke Without Fire,” a collaboration by artist Limei Shimmen with Greenpeace Malaysia social activist, K. C. Heng, that illustrates the choking haze in Johor during dry seasons as a result of increasing demand for oil palm-based products.

“Requiem for a Sea Meadow” was an installation that represented a small sea meadow with a live acoustic performance of “The Sounds of Silence” and “Big Yellow Taxi” by musician, Ong Tee Yau, to mourn the devastating impact of urban development on our environmental assets and the silent helplessness of ordinary citizens.

Johor Green adopted TapiTapir, a ceramic artwork created by Kuala Lumpur social activists and gave it a “star” turn as the “Reluctant Star” in their land art green star, an installation to draw attention to the protection of the animal.