Saturday, August 11, 2012

Strolling through steamy Singapore Botanic Gardens

Water is an ever-present feature of the Singapore Botanic Gardens - even if you unfortunately can't jump in, its sound provides a relief in the hot, humid climate.

Midst all moving bustle, we managed to squeeze in a morning walk at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a favorite from our earlier trips to Singapore. Dog-friendly (they even offer bowls to fill from a special tap) and with a good coffee-house, it makes a perfect treat before the equatorial sun climbs too high and turns the gentle activity of garden strolling into a high-endurance sport.

The National Orchid Garden is situated in the middle of the Botanic Gardens. It holds many unusual plants I've never seen before, but unfortunately most of them don't carry any signs to tell their names, which I would expect from a 'botanical' garden.
With a history reaching over 150 years back, Singapore Botanic Gardens has often been called the "leading equatorial botanical garden" and for long, it has been the uncontested crown jewel of all Singaporean green spaces. It was only this June that its prime position was challenged by the bold, new "Gardens by the Bay" park (more about it in my next post). Starting from quite practical beginnings - its initial task was to introduce economic crops as cocoa, rubber and nutmeg to cultivation- Singapore Botanic Gardens has evolved into a delightful park that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also has world-class plant collections, research and educational facilities and a pronounced recreational agenda.

Groups of Singaporeans - old and young - fill the open spaces of the gardens, practicing tai chi, yoga or Chinese dances.

Walking through the gardens, groups of Singaporeans - old and young, native and immigrant - were using the Gardens as their outdoor living room. Expat moms practiced baby yoga with their mats spread out on the lawns, retirees with silver hair flowed though their tai chi-moves in deep concentration, dignified old ladies danced with red fans in their hands to traditional Chinese music. There was place for everyone, and everyone seemed to be able to enjoy their activities without disturbing each other or being distracted by passers-by.

Heliconias, Costus and other members of the ginger family form a large part of the vegetation - there is even a special section called the Ginger Garden.

For a tiny island nation with population density 457 times higher than my native Finland (!), it is essential to have a well-defined "green" vision about how to provide a sustainable and high-quality lifestyle for its citizens. This is something that Singapore and its government have taken seriously. Its recently minted slogan "City in a Garden" was chosen to express their deep commitment to creating, developing and utilizing green spaces, and they are doing much more than just creating slogans (more of this later...). But already from my short experience here, I can see that Singaporeans don't need any encouragement in embracing and using their abundant and lush gardens. Just like the wonderful Botanic Gardens, these green spaces are already a great public asset for all who wish to enjoy them.   

A pearl-pink Calathea loeseneri opening its delicate petals in the darkness of the jungle floor.


James Golden said...

It's great to see you settled and blogging again. I look forward to learning about the horticultural life in Singapore.

Nic said...

It really is lovely, is it not? I visited for the second time a little over a month ago and also checked out the Gardens by the Bay just after they opened and I have to say that as impressive as the latter are, I much prefer the serene lushness of the Botanic Gardens.

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hello James, I feel quite "rusty" after such a long break, but also very inspired by my new environment. I can't wait to explore the gardens here!

Hello College Gardener - I agree with you; whilspectacular, the Gardens by the Bay need time to develop to their best. It will be interesting to follow them evolve.

Ella said...

Great shots! I love going to gardens. It is so relaxing and I can have peace of mind even for a short while. Good to see a garden in a city. :)

Ruben said...

Fantastiskt med dessa aktiviteter i parken, ett riktigt skådespel i sig, antar jag!! Jag fascinerades av trollsländan, vilka färger, trodde först den var av metall.

Ha det fortsatt gott!

Leighla Holt said...

This is a very beautiful garden. I'm sure it is a perfect place to relax and find peace and serenity. Seeing beautiful flowers and hearing birds chirping calms my spirit.