Tree Planting Day: PM Lee plants bonsai trees at Hougang rooftop garden

The Straits Times / Gin Tay

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong planted bonsai trees at a rooftop garden in Hougang on Sunday morning (Nov 1) to mark Tree Planting Day, an occasion that scored several firsts in the history of the annual event.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was held without participation from residents for the first time in its 49-year history.

It was also the first tree planting event to be held at a rooftop garden and the first time bonsai trees were planted.

Armed with shovels, PM Lee and fellow Ang Mo Kio GRC MPs — Darryl David, Gan Thiam Poh, Nadia Ahmad Samdin and Ng Ling Ling — planted 10 Podocarpus macrophyllus trees, commonly known as the Buddhist pine, in their bonsai form at the rooftop garden of the multi-storey carpark at Block 933 Hougang Avenue 9.


Kebun Baru SMC MP Henry Kwek and Yio Chu Kang SMC MP Yip Hon Weng joined them at the event.

The origins of the event go back to June 16, 1963, when Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew started a tree-planting campaign by planting a mempat tree in Farrer Circus.

The first Tree Planting Day was held on Nov 7, 1971, when then-acting prime minister Goh Keng Swee planted a rain tree on the summit of Mount Faber.

The annual event is usually held on the first Sunday of November. Each town council usually holds tree-planting day activities with its own Members of Parliament.

The event on Sunday was streamed live on the Ang Mo Kio Town Council's Facebook page. It was viewed about 13,000 times as of 11.30am on Sunday.

The Buddhist pine tree is a tropical, evergreen tree that can grow up to 20m tall. It has dark green and narrow leaves. It also responds well to pruning and trimming and is largely resistant to pests and diseases.

Due to their sturdy features, bonsai plants pose minimal safety hazards, especially when faced with strong winds during the rainy season.

After planting the trees, PM Lee visited the rooftop garden's herbs and spices area, which houses plants such as basil, rosemary, pandan and lemongrass, and was presented with various leaves and seeds from the garden.

From Monday, Ang Mo Kio Town Council will give out 160 bags of salad crop seedlings. Participants can go to the town council's Facebook page for details on how to get the bags.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction