Small is beautiful in this sun-filled apartment bursting with greenery, says Jamie Durie Photo: Jennifer Soo
I love a sunroom, especially in winter. Yew Kong Tham's Sydney harbourside 1920s apartment has two sunroom balconies – lucky him! Both spaces are lush garden rooms bursting with plant life and comfortable furnishings perfect for languid time spent with his elegant flatmate, a Russian blue cat named Tash. Yew Kong, owner of Japanese homewares store Ginkgo Leaf, grew up in the countryside of Malaysia.
"My mother would tell us to go out and play and wouldn't let us wear shoes because we would dirty them ... so we would run barefoot and play in the forests exploring," says Yew Kong. "When you spend a lot of time in nature it gets inside you and it's not alien any more."
Yew Kong hasn't studied horticulture, yet is knowledgeable. He is passionate about the Japanese art of bonsai, using Australian native plants. He began his Aussie native bonsai as a way to decorate his homewares store, but customer demand for his miniature trees is growing. Plants he likes to bonsai include river red gum, Huon pine, Port Jackson fig, Moreton Bay fig, silver banksia and lilly-pilly.
Yew Kong says Australian plants grew on him over time. "They always seemed so malnourished and straggly, but [now I see] they are so beautiful and unique!"
Yew Kong has extended his living room towards the harbour view by opening it up and creating a garden sanctuary on his enclosed balcony.
Learning the Japanese art of bonsai – it uses cultivation techniques such as pruning, root reduction, defoliation, potting and grafting.
The second sunroom, which feels like a mini jungle room. Yew Kong calls it his plant nursery, where he keeps his baby plants and does his potting work.
Production Nadine Bush. Photography Jennifer Soo