The hanging garden

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Hidden in Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar, above a busy street lined with cars and food trucks, up a staircase at the end of a small alley marked 6a, lies an oasis.

Part garden and part cafe, Planter Chin x TamanHati is a place to relax, learn, enjoy good company, and have some excellent coffee.

The proprietor of TamanHati – and the botanical curator of the establishment – is Jan Zainal, the green-thumbed garden fairy.

“I’ve always had plants around me. Growing up with my grandma, plants were common,” said Jan as she pointed out one of the many potted plants in the space. “All Malay homes would have these Episcia (flowering plants in the African violet family, Gesneriaceae).

“I call it the ‘aunty plant’ because whenever people see it in a nursery, they won’t bat an eyelid. But to me, it has sentimental value. I remember helping my grandma trim the Episcia that she had and getting rid of the dry leaves, I’ve always loved nature,” said Jan.

Jan’s journey to where she is today with Planter Chin x TamanHati began five years ago when she quit her corporate job and tried her hand at making terrariums, a skill she learned online.

“After making a few, friends told me that maybe I should try and sell them. At the time I thought no one would buy the terrariums. They didn’t look that pretty to me. But my friends encouraged me, because a lot of people don’t have time to make one on their own,” said Jan.

To her, terrariums are like mini gardens, a contained miniature oasis for those who can’t have their own garden at home for one reason or another.

“You can have it on your desk and it gives you a sense of nature. You can actually look after your pet plants,” said Jan. “From there I attended pop up bazaars, selling plants and terrariums before conducting classes on how to make terrariums.”

What began as a simple demonstration on how to make terrariums turned into a full-blown workshop when a client saw and loved her work. She was asked to prepare enough materials for 20 terrariums and teach a class on how to make them.

“It was thanks to that experience that I realised that doing terrarium classes is quite fun. I get to share my knowledge with people, and I enjoy the effort,” said Jan.

Back in 2018, Jan also organised and conducted extracurricular classes for school students to whom she taught basic practical skills, science, and knowledge on plants. It soon became the core of her business.

“Because of the MCO, I could not hold classes and I started to sell more plants. There was a demand as people were cooped up in their homes, they wanted something to do and something to nurture, and plants were a perfect choice,” said Jan.

She added that when it comes to taking care of plants, it’s all about the amount of effort you want to put in. You also need the right plant to fit your space.

“A plant is a living thing, you have to work on it. So when someone asks me to suggest what plant to get, I ask them two things: how much light do they have, and how much effort do they want to put in?” said Jan.

For those who are curious about how it feels to have plants in their space, and want to learn how to take care of them, they can visit Planter Chin x TamanHati and experience it for themselves. Think of it as a pet cafe, but the plants are the ‘pets’, instead.

“There are people who come to visit our space and ask if they could help trim the leaves, or water the plants, or pick out the dried leaves. It is an experience for them,” said Jan.

Most of the plants at Planter Chin x TamanHati are decorative. According to Jan, most urban green thumbs are either into decorative plants or consumable plants like herbs and ulam. And most urban fans of decorative plans love rare variants, but those tend to be difficult to care for.

Despite switching her focus to plants, Jan still holds classes on how to make terrariums at Planter Chin x TamanHati.

So if you are curious about bringing greenery into your living space, or are looking for a peaceful little spot in the city to relax and be surrounded by green, and perhaps learn a thing or two about plants, be sure to visit Planter Chin x TamanHati.

Source:Entertainment & Lifestyle


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