1001 Garden Plants in Singapore

by Boo Chih Min, Kartini Omar-Hor, Ou-Yang Chow Lin

Reviewed by Wilson Wong

Online 3 November 2005

Have you encountered the following scenarios?

First scenario:
You are looking for a plant but you do not know its scientific or common name. After an attempt to describe a plant to its most minute detail, the nurseryman still cannot grabble which plant you are referring to?

Another one:
You know the scientific name of a plant. Unfortunately, this plant doesn't have a common name. You blurted out some Latin to the Pasar Malam vendor, wet market florist or Hokkien-speaking nurseryman, and all you get is a blank stare?

How you wish you had the picture of the plant on hand right?

Forget about lengthy taxonomic descriptions and boring line drawings. This book goes by the popular saying, "A picture tells a thousand words."

Finally, the first extensive pictorial directory on the common plants of Singapore has surfaced. According to its title, it supposed to cover at least 1001 garden plants that can be found here. (I haven't attempted to verify the total number of entries. I think I will fall asleep before I finish counting them. Talk about counting sheep!)

The book's publication is kind of late, but better than never. And you can easily grab a copy just about anywhere. You can borrow it from the public library or purchase a copy from the local plant nursery or any large bookstore. Priced at less than 20 bucks, you get a directory of plants whose pictures are all in full colour. Where on Earth can you get such good deal?

Forget about lengthy taxonomic descriptions and boring line drawings. This book goes by the popular saying, "A picture tells a thousand words." Armed with colorful pictures, all you need to do is to flash the picture of the garden plant you are looking for at a plant dealer and he will instantly know what you wanted.

Not forgetting that the book just weighs a forgiving 850 grams, with dimensions of 210 mm by 149 mm, it fits easily into a carrier bag and you need not have to worry that you will get a backache after carrying it during any lengthy nursery trip. For those plant lovers with cars, you may just want to get a copy of this book and stuff it somewhere in the car like what you did with your indispensable Singapore Street Directory! You never know when you need it.

This book is not about just convenience and its rock-bottom price tag. For those who want to learn more, the book provides the scientific name; local names, if any; its place of origin as well as symbols to convey each plant's characteristics and needs. Take your time to browse through the book to look for a plant that's suitable for your home's or garden's conditions.

With indices of scientific and common names, one can easily find the plant he is looking for. If not, simply flip through pages in the various broad plant categories that the book adopts to classify the numerous plants - Climbers, Ferns & Allies, Shrubs, Cycads & Palms and Trees.

As with all publications, none should be expected to be perfect. I can easily pick out a few inaccuracies here and there, like on page 123, there is no Episcia known by the name of Episcia 'Yellow'. I only know that there is a similar plant known as Episcia 'Tropical Topaz'. Some may criticize and ask how useful can a description get if we are given a name like Aglaonema cultivar? I have no complains about the quality of the pictures since none are pixellated and at most, a handful are blurry. But one can still make out how the plant looks like. Most importantly, do not be disappointed if you cannot find your favourite plant in this bible. A slight excess of 1001 plants is just only a tiny population of the entire Plant Kingdom!

I would rate this book four stars out of a maximum of five. It is a must have for all Singapore plant lovers.

Book Details:

Price: About SGD 18.00
Format: Paperback, 500 pages
Dimensions: 210 mm by 149 mm
First Published: 2003, Singapore, 1st Edition
ISBN: 9810492685

Chapter Headings:

How to use this book
Ferns & Allies
Cycads & Palms
Index to Scientific Names
Index to Common Names

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