The Gift of a Lifetime

Christmas is just around the corner. My wife Tina and I were cracking our heads thinking about an appropriate gift for our four year old Ethan. Should we get him yet another Power Rangers toy? Or maybe a pair of rollerblades?

Inspired by NParks' Plant A Tree programme, Tina suggested that we give him a tree. This will be meaningful as trees help to beautify our environment, reduce our carbon footprint, and restore Singapore's once lush tropical forest cover. More importantly, it could be a gift that will follow him for a lifetime as forest species do grow rather slowly. At $200 a piece, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to do our bit for our future generations.

Our ardour for arbor began at the foot of Mount Faber Park, just next to Marang Road. This route was named after the Marang trees which used to grow in the region.

Here's Ethan and Tina listening intently as our intrepid guide from NParks explains how the forested Kent Ridge, Telok Blangah Hill, and Mount Faber regions used to be one continuous strip of tropical rainforest. Now they are dissected by roads that ply the region.

Our tree planting adventure started with the removal of the loose soil from the hole. The nice folks have already dug the hole for us with a changkol and spade. You can see the sapling in its potting mix ready to be planted.

Daddy jumped into the fray soon after and abandoned his camera. Many hands make light work.

Soon the pit was large enough for us to plant our newly leafed sapling. Ethan of course was all studied concentration, focusing on the task at hand.

The next step is to water the little tree - an important ceremony to give it a taste of its new home.

A Kodak moment for us, after the hard work of planting a tree. Notice the colour coordinated purple tops.

Our tree's name? Marang or Artocarpus odoratissimus of course! With its characteristic three-pronged leaf, this plant bears edible fruits related to the jackfruit and breadfruit.

After our tree planting chores were done, we were treated to a guided tour by NParks' Tan Aun Yee, who brought her son Yuh Yang. Together with us were Mr Steven Ong, who planted his first of 20o trees. Yes, he is a nature lover extraordinaire!

Yuh Yang and Ethan took the lead.

A red saga seed (Adenanthera pavonina), one of many treasures in the forest.

This unfortunate herbaceous plant was infected by galls. Apparently, it is nature's way of removing the weak and maintaining the balance.

These low lying runners are actually medicinal in value, and are used to treat fevers. (Update: Aun Yee updated that these plants are actually used in ulam as raw vegetables to be eaten. Oops hope nobody swallowed these in a bid to cool their heads!)

The Singapore rhododendron or Melastoma malabathricum is a common species at secondary forests like these. I have especially fond memories of this plant because I conducted experiments on them 14 years ago when doing my honours in botany.

One of the few lovely black and white bungalows up on Mount Faber. Living in the lap of luxuriant vegetation beside nature's splendour.

Park benches like these help to provide temporary respite for those un-accustomed to trekking in highly urbanised Singapore.

This huge and sprawling sugar palm tree (Arenga pinnata) is frequently sighted at the forest. It was once planted as a crop species decades ago.

Here's the fruit of the sugar palm tree.

A shot of a massively magnificent Pulai tree (Alstonia angustiloba), one of the taller tree species which can be found in primary rainforests too. (Update: this is the species that can treat desu ne)

Huffing and puffing our way up to the summit.

Finally, the top of Mount Faber can be seen. We never knew that walking through this boardwalk could be so much fun.

A shot of the tree planters cum trail trekkers looking smug after our forest adventures...

... and a friend made amidst caring for and appreciating nature.

Labels: , , , ,