Saturday, 7 May 2016

Garden Mania in Singapore

The Supertree Grove in Gardens by the Bay and you can walk the walkway
Just a few more posts on Singapore before we catch up on Hong Kong and China...

The Lion City is very lush and green, even more so with a relatively new additional garden -- Gardens by the Bay near Marina Bay Sands.

Gorgeous orchids in the Cloud Forest garden
It's a massive 101 hectares (250 acres) that offers a respite from the humidity and heat with an amazing array of flowers, plants, trees and sculptures. There are various sections and a lot of ground to cover.

While most of the park is free, there are areas where you need to get tickets and it's definitely worth it.

We first ventured to the Supertree Grove, and my first reaction on seeing these tall verdant columns was feeling like we were in Pandora, the setting for the movie Avatar.

A levitating baby, a sculpture by Marc Quinn called "Planet"
Visitors can buy tickets to go up to the vertical garden columns via an elevator and walk along the elevated walkway to get a panoramic view of the city, and in the evening the Supertree Grove lights up with a colourful display.

One garden had a massive sculpture of a baby -- floating. UK sculptor Marc Quinn's Planet features a baby boy -- his son -- who seems to be levitating, if it weren't for its right hand on the ground. It was quite bizarre, but the sculpture is made of heavy metal, making it seem like more of an engineering feat than an artistic statement.

Wonder what his son thinks of himself immortalized in a park in Singapore!

Plants found in semi-arid conditions are in the Flower Dome
The themed gardens like Chinese and Indian were stereotypical, and seemed like token gestures that weren't impressive in their execution.

Nevertheless, we were completely wowed by the Flower Dome, one of the conservatories we had tickets for.

It's a massive dome covering an area of 1.2 hectares, or 3 acres, and it's the perfect place to spend the afternoon because of the cool temperatures in there. Inside is a massive collection of all kinds of plants, trees and flowers found in semi-arid tropical regions, like Australia, South America and South Africa.

There were so many kinds of succulents and cacti, and there were even very old olive trees, and aloe vera plants.

Beautiful tulips in bloom in the seasonal floral display
As you wind your way down, there's roses, more olive trees, and shrubs. But interestingly there were no bees or insects that we could see. At the bottom is a seasonal floral display and when we were there, it was tulips. There were all different kinds and colours, some seemed wilted, others had yet to bloom.

When we asked about this, we were told the flowers were replaced almost on a daily basis. Imagine how much money was spent to do this. My Singaporean friend told me before tulips it was sakura, or cherry blossoms. Did they import the trees over? And did they survive? What did they do with them after they finished blooming?

The 35-metre high waterfall at Cloud Forest
Then we headed next door to Cloud Forest, which is more vertical. Right at the entrance you're greeted by a massive waterfall that has a 35-metre drop, immediately creating a naturally cool (and wet) start to the visit here. People can slowly wind their way up and just marvel at how cool (temperature and hip factor) it is.

We took the elevator to the top and walked along an elevated walkway before going down again, and marveled again at the waterfall and soaked in the lushness and cool temperatures.

There were a few exhibits of stalactites and stalagmites that seemed incongruous with these gardens, and there were also videos about what the world would look like if the earth was five or six degrees hotter (flooding, drought, water refugees).

One small exhibit showed flowers and pitcher plants that catch insects made from Lego -- while it was cute, nut why not see the real living thing? It was quite amusing to see these colourful bricks integrated with real plants, but seemed out of place.

Nevertheless we still enjoyed these gardens and have already recommended others check them out too. If anything they're a wonderful place to beat the heat and take in some nature too.

More beautiful floral and verdant displays at Cloud Forest
Gardens by the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive
Singapore 018953
www.gardensbythebay.com.sg



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