The shop has been around for more than four decades. It began as a farm selling flowers for tai-tai (upper class) living in nearby condominiums. After all these years, it is still blooming at the exact location where neighbors have come to rely on them to celebrate special occasions such as weddings and birthdays with fresh bouquets of luxury blooms at affordable prices. Though it may have adapted to changes in society by taking online orders, the florist remains rooted in its friendly service that has become part of life for Singaporeans before they score their first A levels or graduate from university. A trip to Toa Payoh, decades ago after Singapore’s independence, will undoubtedly remind us of happy yet straightforward times.
Toa Payoh Florist occupies one corner unit at Toa Payoh Lorong 5 behind Block 24, located beside City Square Mall. The florist was built around the same time as the blocks of flats surrounding it, most likely in the late 1960s or 1970s. It is a single-story building with its facade painted light grey with dark grey accents to match the black grills on its windows and doors.
Despite being tucked away in an obscure corner, Toa Payoh Florist has garnered support from netizens after they were featured on various Singapore television programs for their innovative floral designs. One example was when radio DJ Mike Kasem ordered flowers online for his wedding ceremony at Marina Bay Sands Resort & Casino through the shop’s website flower2u. His unconventional order of five million dollars worth of Lily-white chrysanthemums drew unanimous praise from television viewers and customers for their stunning designs. Other online reviews rated the florist as one of the best in Singapore because they never fail to impress, whether with military precision or delicate accuracy.
Toa Payoh Lorong 5 was a road I traveled several times a week after school during my primary years at Bendemeer Primary School between 1986 and 1990. The street no longer exists since flats have been built over where they were many years ago. The site now houses Blocks 24 and 27D, which were completed in 1985 according to HDB’s online records. According to those who lived nearby, a Chinese herbal medicine center had occupied that corner unit decades ago before it became a florist.
It was heartwarming to know that an increasing number of the younger generation was learning about Singapore’s culture through one of the most enduring local TV dramas ever, 118, which told stories about their lives after primary school. Each episode began with a scene where students gathered at Toa Payoh Town Park for morning exercises led by their teachers. It was an effective way to introduce viewers to familiar landmarks around Toa Payoh Central, such as the hawker center across Block 24 and bus interchange located along Lorong 1 that are no longer in existence today. This is especially important since the television series aired more than two decades ago and introduced topics relevant during its production periods, such as bilingual education and single-parent families.