Count Your Blessings!

With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

Count Your Blessings!
Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
Count Your Life With Smiles And Not The Tears That Roll.
..... Author unknown.

Knowing me, Knowing you..... Aha.....!

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Malaysian Flora USDA Zone 11
Welcome to our exotic world of everlasting summers and tropical rainforests!

Monday, June 1, 2009

About Me - Part 1

My real name is Elaine Yim.

I'm a DIY gardener living in the city in the tropics. I come from a family of avid gardeners.

Life at the temple
I had a happy childhood growing up in a small town in Perak where my free time after school was spent helping my grandmother pottering around the compound of our village home or the temple grounds when she was the caretaker. We reared free range chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys for our own consumption. We had dogs; "Lucky", "Wong", "Lassie", "Spunky" and "Kopi" to help guard the house and cats; "Spots" and "Tiger", "Tan Ngan Chai (One-eyed), "Short Tail", "Fatso" to keep the rats population in check. All of them were strays or newborn giveaways adopted during different time periods of course. Sometimes even tortoises (turtles) and pigeons wander into our kitchen but we didn't slaughter them to make delicacies and herbal soups! You see, some people believe that "fong sang" or releasing animals in captivity was good for the soul, hence tortoises, pigeons and other types of tweety birds were released during birthdays and festivals at temples. Whenever there was a heavy downpour, the water from the pond nearby would overflow and fishes would be washed off to the drains that flow into the temple grounds. My siblings and I would be happily fishing - i.e. scooping fishes; mainly fighting fish, sometimes snakeheads (ikan haruan) or Clarias batrachus (ikan keli). We liked to rear the fighting fish in used glass jars.

My grandma was an avid gardener. She never went to school but she was already well equipped with much of the necessary living skills when she married my grandpa at the age of 16(?). Her specialty was ornamentals like bougainvilleas and dahlias. Whenever there was an important event in town, e.g. a singing competition or fund raising, my grandma's colourful and blooming, potted bougainvilleas would be used to adorn the stage and venue.

Life in our home, then,
My father was an orchid enthusiast and loved the challenge of taking part in orchid competitions. We were very proud of his gorgeous orchids and most of my evenings were spent watching him painstakingly tending to his prized orchid collection. Friends and visitors from far and near came to our house to view his flowering orchids.

We also had a big compound around our house where we grew fruit trees like jackfruit, custard apple, guava, papaya, rambutan and mango. Believe me, yes! we had a mini 'farm' and an 'orchard' within our house compound. We composted the dead leaves, collected rain water and recycle our rinsing water for the plants. Excess rice, vegetables and cooked dishes were shared with our chickens, ducks, turkeys, dogs and cats. Dad's idea was to save cost but now we know that he was already helping to reduce our carbon footprint!

Mom was a great cook. She grew aloe vera, tapioca, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, pandan, chili, lemon grass and the curry leaf plant. With so many fresh ingredients at hand, Ah Ma was never short of supplies for her beauty regimes and culinary adventures.

This is how I learnt most of my gardening, cooking and home living skills.

And now,
Currently, I have a small garden plot where I try out many different types of plants, vegetables, fruits and flowers. My references are from gardening books, magazines, TV, public gardens and the internet. I also regularly visit The Secret Garden on the rooftop of 1-Utama which to me is like a 3-in-1 mini encyclopedia, self-learning institution cum showchase of live flowering and foliage plants. I also visit MPH Bookstore to update myself on the latest information. I am actually a Bookworm who loves Gardening.

However, I do strongly believe that what matters most is the personal, hands-on experience gained through the years of working on the soil. Each garden plot has its own unique micro-climate and hence requirements pertaining to sunlight, shade, soil, temperature and water, therefore we have to adapt ourselves in order to succeed.


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