Hello and welcome back to the final edition of this 3 part series on ‘Gardens by the Bay’ Singapore. This last entry is about the fabulous ‘Cloud Forest’ which is basically straight across the foyer from the ‘Flower Garden’ in the second dome of the gardens. This glasshouse is slightly smaller than its ‘Flower Dome’ counterpart (0.8 hectares) but what it looses in width it makes up for in height. The ‘Cloud Forest’ represents the tropical mountain parts of South east Asia and South America where the conditions are cool and moist. As with the ‘Flower Dome’ the ‘Cloud Forest’ is open between 9am and 9pm and the temperature ranges between a comfortable 23-25 degrees Celsius.
The Falls: As we walked into this dome we were instantly greeted by a 35m tall waterfall (worlds tallest indoors) that dominates the entrance. There is a lot of water and air turbulence so it feels even cooler in here. We didn’t realize at the time but there are misters throughout the dome that go off every 2 hours beginning at 10am. These misters shroud the entire dome in an eerie mist and we just happened to time the beginning of this perfectly (arsed it so to speak).
From the picture left you can see that basically the entire dome is dominated by the ‘Cloud Mountain’ which is honeycombed and hollow in the middle. The entire mountain is completely covered in orchids, ferns, bromiliads, mosses and anthuriums just to name a few. The ‘Cloud Forest’ is designed to lead you in one direction to avoid overcrowding and allow you to see everything (a bit like an ‘Ikea’ showroom, once you start you can’t stop until the exit). It has a number of different themes and levels.
We have already taken a look at the ‘The Falls’ area. I should mention that we did come here twice and it does appear to be busier in the afternoon than in the morning. People do like to see the light show so come later to see both. The waterfall is also lit up at night but we didn’t witness this for ourselves.
Foothills: The foothills begin at the falls and is a very gentle incline around the base of the mountain. It has some cool sculptures and a huge variety of plants to look at, similar species to what you would expect to find in the real foothills in nature. At the end of this section we came to an entrance into the catacombs of the mountain and a lift into the ‘Lost World’.
Having kept our fluids up (as is one of the requirement for a healthy mind, body and soul) we felt the need for a toilet stop at this point, not knowing when the next one would be available. Now, don’t ‘ever’ let me here you say that the Singaporeans don’t provide you with ample choice when it comes to looking after their toilet patrons.
The Lost World:
We stepped out of the elevator and into the ‘Lost World’ which is at the maximum height of this exhibit. The whole thing is actually really clever because you get excited about what will be coming up next as you traverse this man made mountain. There is a large pond at the top and plants that you would typically find at the 2000m mark above sea level in an Asian mountaintop forest. We noticed Orchids, Pitcher Plants, Venus Fly-traps, ferns, pines and Rhododendrons just to name a few. I have always thought that the plants on mountaintops (particularly sub-tropical and tropical) to conflict, like they don’t belong together. Its most likely to do with there being both warm and cool climate plants mixed into the same environment. When I have noticed these conflicts I immediately think of the typical mismatched gardens you see around any neighbourhood. You know, the guy who can’t choose the style of garden he wants, so just chooses what ever plant takes his fancy at the time. Well maybe there is a style of garden for this guy with no idea, the ‘Mountaintop garden’.
The cloud walk takes you outside of the mountain itself to give you a view of the mountain and a birds-eye view of the whole dome. It was quite spectacular. I hadn’t really thought about those that are afraid of heights until we saw one guy freak out on this part of the walk. He had to shut his eyes while his girlfriend guided him back to solid ground.
Crystal Mountain: This section is back in the heart of mountain and has real stalactites and stalagmites on display (I am not sure where they were sourced from). You can see from the picture below the escalator (down only) and the honeycomb effect which is the whole mountain. Everything in and around this dome is wet and humid from misters, rivers and waterfalls. It would take some major upkeep and I would love to see the window cleaners in action, you would need to be Spiderman.
Treetop Walk: This walk takes you through the tree canopy up close and personal. Notice the Woolemi Pines.
The Secret Garden:
The ‘Secret Garden’ is the last garden before returning into the mountain. It is magnificently done and really does feel like a secret garden deep in the forest. There are many plants in here that are becoming increasingly rare on earth today including the Wollemi Pine that we also saw on our visit to Cranbourne Gardens in an earlier addition (hmm I think the Wollemi Pine has gone from extinct to rare to increasingly not rare).
The last two sections of the ‘Cloud Forest’ exhibit were extremely interesting but reminded me of a Sir David Attenborough series I saw that has always stuck out in my mind. David, as usual, presented a magnificent program with unbelievable footage of wildlife and scenery that kept me inspired and in awe. Then, in the last 10 minutes, he advised his audience that the habitats and species we had witnessed are not only the last on earth but also critically endangered and unlikely to survive the next 50 years thanks to the hand of man, major downer. That is, however, what these and many other gardens we have visited are all about, preservation and education that hopefully the next generation will be inspired to fix and protect.
Earth Check: We returned back into the heart of the mountain and into ‘Earth Check’ which is like a lab with facts and figures about the current state of our planet.
+ 5 degrees: From ‘Earth check’ we descended (via escalator) into the + 5 degrees section which was basically a cinema where we watched what will happen to our planet should the temperature rise just 5 degrees over the coming century (a scenario that is highly likely so it seems). The forecast wasn’t good I can assure you. It did finish up on a positive note, however, with some of the good things that are happening to make this prediction a non reality.
Well that’s it for the fabulous ‘Gardens by the Bay’. I hope you have enjoyed this 3 part series and if you have been already, hope you learn’t something new and if you haven’t been yet are inspired to take a look for yourself. See you next time on ‘My Walkabout Plants’.
Sources of Information:
- Information boards at the Gardens.
- Information Pamplet at the Gardens.