Well, this was a day we had been looking forward to for some time and was probably the main reason for our trip to Singapore. We actually ended up visiting ‘Gardens by the Bay’ twice as one trip was definitely not enough, not to mention its not like we live around the corner that we can just pop in whenever we want. I have broken this garden up into three separate posts as it’s a little too much to cover in just one. Today’s walkabout will take us through the outdoor area of the gardens and in subsequent blogs, the ‘Flower Dome’ and ‘Cloud Forest’ (these are truly amazing).
We set out in our tourist bus once again on a very (surprise, surprise) humid Singapore morning. We were well prepared with backpacks, lunch, snacks and water. Your choice of food in the gardens is either relatively expensive restaurants with (of coarse) happy hour to entice you (we didn’t come here to get boozed up) or McDonald’s so I do recommend you BYO especially if you have some kids as it may get expensive. The garden itself was only officially opened on the 29th June 2012, so is still in its infancy. The key consideration when designing ‘Gardens by the Bay’ was the sustainable use of energy and water (more about this in my soon to be released section, ‘A Green Mindset’). It also had to fall in line with the cities vision of a ‘City in a Garden’, which it has done brilliantly. One thing I noticed when walking around Singapore (as is the burden of most modern cities) is that cars seem to take priority over pedestrians and bicycle riders. This whole marina area, on the other hand, is filled with people friendly walkways and bridges in and around the gardens that are unavailable to the motorist. It is a haven for walkers, joggers and cyclists and is, maybe, a glimpse into the future of city living as it is amazing how many people come here just to do that.
The ‘Garden by the Bay’ is set on 101 hectares of land with the main concentration of the garden, so far, being north and centre. From hear it trails out south-east and south-west in what looks like a giant boot shape. It is open from 5am until 2am (between 2am-5am the Oompa Loompa’s come out with hoses and start watering I imagine) and has had over 20 million visitors in the last 3 years. If you want to avoid the crowds 5am and after 12pm is a good time to visit (are you kidding), the busiest time of the day being between 6pm and 9pm to watch the spectacular light show. Although spectacular, the light show wasn’t really top of my agenda, I was more interested in the million plus species of plants from around the world that the garden has to offer. I will now take you through some of the gardens that we observed in our walkabout, hope you enjoy.
Floral clock: was designed and given as a gift from ‘Audemar Piguet’ (watch company) as a gift celebrating Singapore’s 50th year of Independence. The Audemar Piguet Foundation is committed to worldwide forest conservation and has many wonderful projects happening around the world.
Discovery: Looks at the evolution of plants over the life span of the planet. It has a petrified tree (close up picture below shows rotting and termite damage of long dead tree) and some of the oldest evolved plants in the world still living today.
Indian Garden: Inspired on by a kolam (South Indian style of painting using rice flour) design highlights the religious role plants play in the Indian community in Singapore.
Chinese Garden: In China gardens are built to represent the natural world, rock imitating mountains and water features imitating rivers and lakes. Plants are chosen to symbolize resilience and strength in contrast to the momentary beauty of the individual blossom.
Malay Garden: represents the traditional kampong (village) culture that was the root of Malay community. Fruit and other traditional plants were shared among these communities that shaped the simple life of old Singapore.
Colonial Garden: represents the ambitions of early British settlers to the area such as ‘Sir Stanford Raffles’. This period was followed by intense horticultural activity that changed the world through cash crops to improve the economies of colonies and territories world wide.
Web of Life: has life-sized topiary animals that have been woven from fig. It represents the interrelationship of rainforest flora with native species that live in the forest.
Fruits and Flowers: looks at the forms and function of fruits and flowers, why plants need fruit and flowers and the domestication of rainforest fruits.
Understorey: looks at the forest floor, the root zones of plants, and how plants adapt to low light and poor soils.
World of palms: represents the incredible versatility and usefulness this plant has had on man. Palms contribute to shelter, fibres, fruit, starch and oils.
Secret life of trees: takes you through some interesting facts and figures about trees from trunk, bark, leaves and roots. One thing I learnt while here is that in the rainforest trees do not overlap each other but leave a gap creating an integrate pattern of perfectly shaped jigsaw pieces separated by a sliver of sky.
Heritage Gardens: reflects Singapore’s main ethnic groups and colonial heritage. It is a collection of four gardens themed on plants and people.
The Supertrees: range in height from 25-50m and are structures that are are literally covered in thousands of plants including many varieties of bromeliad, orchids, ferns and vines. Apart from their amazing visual presence they are also filled with hidden uses and technologies such as photo-voltaic cells that harness electricity and for the collection of rainwater both of which are used for the gardens light show, irrigation and filling of displays. Some of the trees even serves as intakes and exhausts in cooling the ‘Flower Dome’ and ‘Cloud Forest, conservatories. At a cost of $10 we took the ‘OCBC Skyway’ that lets you walk among the trees. The Skyway can only take a number of people at a time due to weight restrictions and they do encourage that people don’t loiter when they are up there. It was definitely spectacular but I felt a little overpriced for what it was. To finish off today’s walkabout I have attached some interesting photos that include Dragonfly Lake, some interesting portholes and one crazy big baby in The Meadow that appears to be weightless and was created by sculpture Marc Quinn. I hope you have enjoyed today’s addition and as earlier advised I will unveil the rest of this garden in the coming weeks. There are other areas that I have not covered today such as the ‘Children’s Garden’ and large areas of ‘Gardens by the Bay’ have yet to be developed. It blows my mind to think what it will be like in another 20 years considering it is currently only 4 years old. See you next time on ‘My Walkabout Plants’.
- Garden billboards.
- Garden brochure.