She gets National Orchid Garden all ready for visitors... before 10am

It takes more than sunlight, weeding and watering for a garden to thrive. The National Orchid Garden's manager Sheryl Koh, 25, is part of a team responsible for its year-round care. She starts work at 7am, before the garden opens at 8.30am.

It takes more than sunlight, regular weeding and watering for a garden to thrive.

Especially one that is part of a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The National Orchid Garden, nestled within the leafy compounds of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, is the result of year-round care and cultivation.

Ms Sheryl Koh, a manager at the garden, can attest to that.

The energetic 25-year-old, part of a team of 14, starts refreshing the floral displays at 7am, before the place opens to the public at 8.30am.

As the garden's name suggests, orchids are its pride and joy, with many varieties on display.

To maintain just one pot of five flowering plants throughout the year, there needs to be a stock of 200 plants. This is because the plants need to be of a "display standard" for visitors to enjoy.

"The plants must definitely be robust," said Ms Koh.

"We pluck the flowers when the petals are bruised or if they are eaten by slugs. So those that are chewed, yellow or bruised - we will remove them."


As a manager at the National Orchid Garden, Ms Sheryl Koh starts refreshing the floral displays at 7am, making sure that the plants are of a "display standard" for visitors to enjoy, before the place opens to the public at 8.30am. PHOTO: SAMUEL RUBY RIANTO

Leaves must also be green and succulent.

"It's not natural for gardens to look like that. If you leave a garden to itself, it's not going to be flourishing like what you see here in the Orchid Garden," she said.

Besides looking after the garden, Ms Koh also plans and executes orchid displays with her colleagues, such as for last month's Singapore Garden Festival, which was held at Gardens by the Bay.


Ms Sheryl Koh, 25, Manager of National Orchid Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens, National Parks Board, at The Mountains. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

 
 

Added Ms Koh: "It is really quite satisfying to be able to see something come to fruition from your planning, because it's actually not as easy working with plants as people think it might be."

In video miniseries Before 10am, OurSTories talks to Singaporeans who work behind the scenes in the early hours of the morning to ensure attractions and services are ready for customers well before 10am.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2018, with the headline 'She gets garden all ready for visitors... before 10am'. Print Edition | Subscribe