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.