Day 2

30 Days Of Art With NAC: Our Gardens, Our Homes by Christine Chia

To inspire and uplift readers as the country emerges from the Covid-19 circuit breaker, The Straits Times, supported by the National Arts Council as part of the #SGCultureAnywhere campaign, has commissioned 30 works by local writers and artists on the pandemic and what it will be like when all this is over


When this is over, gardening will become sexy again. It's always been sensuous, but now, it's necessary. Sunlight and fresh air are natural disinfectants and in the schools of tomorrow, I imagine gardening co-curricular clubs will gradually supplant choirs, unless choirs can still perform when each member is distanced 7m from one another, as that's the viral radius of a sneeze.

Some of our brightest minds will set up agri-businesses instead of working for banks or hedge funds.

Instead of working 70-hour weeks in carbon-guzzling skyscrapers, our bright young things will work under the open sky and, sometimes, in greenhouses, getting fit without going to the gym.

Instead of voluntourism, our best students will cultivate plant exchanges with their regional counterparts. Especially talented youth gardeners will form a new specialisation in the army, that of gardeners. It will be two such gardeners who patent the best durian hybrid: fleshy like the Thai variety, but with the bittersweet bouquet of the Malaysian durian.

Their company, however, decides to list on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, despite years of steadfast research and development support from the Singapore Government.

The founders and their team will instantly become semi-billionaires on the first day of trading. Chinese tourists thought nothing of flying to Pahang just for the best durians. Until they couldn't, because the great airspace of China was grounded.

The dashed dreams of millions of Chinese durian lovers will be revived when production of the "green gold" is granted to Hainan Island. It will be the final sweetener for the new Free Trade Agreement between China and Singapore.

When this is over, a thousand gardening clubs will bloom and they will bolster our food security.

People will be queueing at Ikea again, but masked and socially distanced. Not for meatballs or chicken wings, but for the special-edition gardening tools.

We will have gardening channels, podcasts, YouTubers and Instagrammers. #potd - plant of the day - will rival #ootd (outfit of the day) for hashtag supremacy.

Gardeleisure will be the fastest-growing category of clothing, not athleisure. Sales of extra-strength sunblock will soar, naturally.

Bees will no longer be endangered once we stop mowing down the wild grasses and flowers. Singapore will even export honey to Malaysia.

Beekeeping will be the new yoga and replace half the hot yoga studios in Singapore because being in the bee suit works up a sweat too.

When this is over, there will be a mushrooming of garden makeover shows. People with black thumbs will be subtly shamed for killing their plants.

Horticulturalists or plant doctors will set up shop in the heartland, like general practitioner clinics for sick plants.

They will have tie-ups with veterinary clinics because pet-stool samples are excellent fertilisers.

When this is over, housing agents will highlight the plot ratio of a condominium's garden, not the swimming pool or pools.

Developers will jettison bay windows for balconies and the East-West orientation of a home and how much sunlight it gets will become selling points, not liabilities.

There will be a new crest of condominiums riding the green wave, with names invoking gardens, naturally, flowers, trellises, vines, but never soil.

  • Christine Chia, 41, has published two poetry collections, The Law Of Second Marriages (2011) and Separation: A History (2014). During the circuit breaker period, she made a lot of banana bread.
  • For more local digital arts offerings, go to to appreciate #SGCultureAnywhere


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2020, with the headline 'Our Gardens, Our Homes by Christine Chia'. Subscribe