Shui Mei has always reminded me of my father's hospital stay. I first caught a whiff of the fragrance of shui mei which was grown in the Lau King Howe hospital when my father was admitted. He was given one of the First Class Ward rooms. Outside, there were many shui mei planted in large salted egg jars. I had often wonder who planted those beautiful flowers and other flowers like canna lilies in the hospital.
My father there and then told me that the fragrance of Shui Mei reminded him of Fujian, where it was a common plant and found in every household. He also told me that bonzais of Shui mei were popularly groomed by many academicians and especially poets. Years later bonzai became a craze and in fact even newspapers reported cases of people stealing shui mei from houses, from public places etc.
|Photo of Shui Mei from Jong Shiau Chin|
My pragmatic maternal grandmother said that only the rich and famous would grow a garden of flowers to look at. The poor must grow vegetables for food. My mother said it would be very advisable to grow fruit trees if we had the land and we did not have to buy.
Some how perhaps,was it Lau King Howe himself who introduced shui mei to Sibu in 1926??