A review of Gardens by the Bay,Singapore's wonderful contribution to the environmental cause
I was looking for places to go to with my husband on his day off and to hopefully take some wonderful pictures, so we decided on the Gardens By the Bay, built on reclaimed land in the Southern sector of Singapore. The gardens, with an eco-friendly theme and a wealth of picture-taking chances, is a refreshing gem which will not disappoint any visitor.
The Gardens are Singapore’s latest contribution to our fight to preserve our environment. Created by Singapore’s National Parks Board, its objective is to capture the essence of Singapore as a Garden City with a good environment in which to live and work. Just a 2 minute walk from the Bayfront MRT, it is highly accessible.
Gardens by the Bay
Fun facts about Gardens by the Bay
- Gardens by the Bay spans 101 hectares.
- The gardens comprise three main spaces, Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central.
- It houses 250,000 rare plants.
- It houses 2 main conservatories for rare plant species, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest Dome.
- The Super Tree Grove is located in the Bay South Gardens and are an impressive vertical gardens, 16 stories tall.
- Don't miss the OCBC Garden Rhapsody, which takes place amid the impressive Supertrees at night, accompanied by dazzling lights.
- You can take in the view of Singapore's financial district from the skyway amid the Super Trees.
The History of Gardens by the Bay
These Gardens were developed after after an international master plan was launched to seek design ideas for it. Design ideas were drawn from more than 70 entries submitted by 70 firms from over 24 countries, including 35 from Singapore herself. Grant Associates was announced as a winner to develop the Bay South Gardens and Gustafson Porter, another company from the United Kingdom, was shortlisted as the winning developer for the Bay East Gardens.
Consisting of 7 wonderful attractions, the first, Bay South Gardens, broke ground in 2006 and started development, followed by the Bay South Gardens in 2010. In November 2011, a special preview of the Bay South Gardens was held, including one of the stellar attractions, the Flower Dome.
Gardens by the Bay
Attractions in Gardens By The Bay
The Flower Dome is a cool-dry conservatory, one of the icons in the Bay South Gardens. It replicates the mediterranean climate including South Africa and parts of Spain and Italy. Step into it to experience the eerie profile of boabab and bottle trees, surrounded by bushes of flowers and succulents. At the same time, immerse yourself in a spectacular view of the skyline of the Marina Reservoir. Discover many plants and flowers all over the globe! I will detail my experience walking through the Flower Dome in a later part of this article.
The Cloud Forest replicates a cool climate high up in the mountains. In this attraction, you can learn more about rare plants that are disappearing. Learn about different vegetation and discover many floral gems.
Stand in awe of the amazing Super Trees, vertical gardens 25 to 50 meters tall. These have large canopies that provide shade in the day and and come alive with an exhilarating visual display of lights at night. In addition, it also serves as a beautiful venue for events.
Get to know about Singapore’s history and culture through a visit to the Heritage Gardens. It is a collection of four themed gardens that take visitors through the history and culture of Singapore’s various ethnic groups. These refer to the Malay, Indian, Chinese and Colonial Gardens.
Night Life of Trees Panel
A feature to look out for will be the Night Life of Trees Panel in the Indian Garden. Keep an eye out for the decorative motifs on the circular blue fence that surround the Gardens, based on the artistic book The Night Life of Trees. Look out for the snakes that morph into an extraordinary tree.
The Benevolent Buddha
Another feature to look out for is the Benevolent Buddha located in the Chinese Gardens. Spot the statue of Buddha reclining under a sacred tree.
The Kampong House
The Kampong House in the Malay Garden is another feature to look out for. Houses mainly used by the Malay community in days of old, they were crafted from materials like Rumbia or Nipah Palm. The walls and floors were made using wood from the Nibong Tree, while mats and beds were made from bamboo. In the Kampong House, be treated to a film on Malay Arts and Crafts.
White and Black Verandahs
The black and white verandahs in the Colonial Garden reflect the bungalow houses that were a feature of Singapore’s colonial past. White paint was quicklime made from crushed shells, and black paint protected the house from termites.
The Heritage Gardens is a great, natural way to access Singapore’s culture. This section of the gardens also presents many photographic opportunities!
The Kingfisher and Dragonfly lakes
Discover a world that exists in these lakes. These are a haven for aquatic life and plants, besides being waters of scenic beauty. The plants help to cleanse the water than has been pumped from the nearby Marina Reservoir. Take beautiful pictures as you enjoy the boardwalk surrounding the lake. They play an important role in maintaining a healthy level of nutrients.
The Bay East Gardens
The Bay East Gardens is a beautiful place to relax, with beautiful pavilions, wide open lawns and flowering shrubs. Take photographs of these awesome gardens and the Marina Skyline.
World of Plants
Venture into a tropical world full of surprises and wonderful tropical plants and wonderfully sculpted botany!!
The Gardens boast 4 event venues, namely Jubilee Hall, The Meadow, Silver Leaf and Supertree Grove as mentioned earlier. Of these, The Meadow is a large venue suitable for
large concerts, with a capacity of about 30000 people. The Silver Leaf is smaller, suitable for private functions and events. Guests will be dazzled by lights and music at the Supertree Grove.
Each of these places boasts lush, well tended greenery and the to die for scenery means a wealth of photographic opportunities. One would spend more than a day visiting all the attractions!
Our walk through Gardens By the Bay
The Dragonfly Lake
This lake, supplied with water from the nearby Marina Reservoir, is home to a wealth of vegetation that helps to cleanse it. Home to the Blue Dragonfly and other aquatic life. It is a place for a quiet stroll and many photographic opportunities.
The Visitors Centre
Wishing to purchase tickets to enter the two air conditioned plant conservatories, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest meant a stop at the Visitor’s Centre. This is where we met with perhaps the one disappointment we had with the gardens.
It would have been useful for visitors to have maps detailing the layout of the gardens, which did not seem to be present. We were actually able to rent headphones with in built recordings describing the flora and fauna, which would have been extremely useful, but were not told of this by the service staff. We only found out about this useful when we were in the Cloud Forest Dome later.
The Cloud Forest Dome
The Cloud Forest Dome, as explained earlier, is a conservatory that boasts the flora and fauna present in cool mountain climes. It is a superb replica of nature’s creations in the mountains. Learn about the unique biodiversity and geology that is a true wonder of nature.
Upon entry into the Cloud Forest Dome, we were greeted by a huge, cascading waterfall. Though a simulation of the waterfalls of nature, it is an object of beauty indeed. Surrounded by natural vegetation, the falls are a scenic spot for budding photographers to take a few pictures. We saw many children excited by the constant splashes as they took pictures.
The dome cleverly utilizes dry ice to simulate the cloudy, cool mountain climate not possible in low-lying tropical Singapore. It made the walk through the conservatory seem like a stroll through a world of mist.
The Lost World
The Lost World boasts a wealth of rare and other vegetation. Look out for the Wollemi Pine, first discovered in the Australian National Park in 1994. Prior to that year it was only known from fossils. Look out for the better known pitcher plant, which uses cup shaped leaves to attract and capture its insect prey.
Planted Walls along Cloud Walk
View the many planted walls along Cloud Walk. These are adorned with a mixture of fascinating orchids, delicate ferns and colorful bromeliads. Remember to snap some interesting photos along the way.
The Treetop Walk
More rare vegetation awaits along the beautiful Treetop Walk. Step into a wonderful world of flora, fauna and rare vegetation on your stroll.
The Crystal Tower
The Crystal Tower hosts a display of dazzling crystals which can be found in many caves in mountains. Take a couple of snapshots of these white beauties.
A presentation on the climate of today
In the middle of the dome is a little computer graphics grotto. Within, view panels that detail the make up of rain forests and the endangered state they are in today. Be treated to a presentation which speculates on what would happen if the Earth were to warm by 5 degrees.
It was thoroughly informative, yet horrifying to find that nearly all the Earth’s coral reefs would disappear if the Earth were to be heated to that level. Further, 1 in 10 of birds, plants and animals would disappear. Many left the presentation informed, though somewhat mortified by the heartfelt narration.
All in all, we had a thoroughly informative, calming and cool walk through the painstakingly created Cloudforest Dome with a treasure trove of photographs taken sent to our accounts at Flickr.com. It is certainly worth a visit.
We managed to get photographs of red, white and yellow roses in bloom. Though a common flower at the florists, it is mentionable here because it is a definite impossibility to find a rose bush here in sunny Singapore, where they would begin wilting almost immediately because of the too-warm climate. The temperature in the conservatory wonderfully allows the world’s favorite flower to thrive and grow.
Cactuses are aplenty here in the Flower Dome, and many species of it thrive and grow. There are many examples of barreled cactuses that can be found in Mediterranean regions.
The Flower Dome
The Flower Dome, as explained earlier, boasts a host of flora and fauna from the Mediterranean regions of South Africa and parts of Spain amongst other countries. The cool conservatory houses plants in a well-emulated Mediterranean climate. It Minimises solar heat gain while allowing maximum light through the use of spectrally selective glass and light sensor operated shadings. It uses thermal stratification to ensure that only areas occupied by plants are cooled and warmer air gets vented to the upper levels.
The bottle tree, or is a tree native to South West Australia. Named for its bottle like structure, it is found in many plantations in the country. It can grow to 18–20 meters (59–65 feet) in height. I am also happy to say that there is a a park here in Singapore devoted to the growth of this tree, named, aptly, The Bottle Tree Park. That though, will be the subject of another review.
The Baobab,or Adansonia is an umbrella term for 8 species of tree native to the equatorial regions of India, Africa and some parts of Australia. Of the 8, 6 are native to Madagascar, one native to mainland Africa and another to Australia.
Adansonias reach heights of 5 to 30 m (16 to 98 ft) and have trunk diameters of 7 to 11 m (23 to 36 ft).
The stoutest of these has got to be the Sunland Baobab, which is native to South Africa.
This is a species of tree native to South Africa. A slow growing tree, it can reach up to 18 m in height and about 0.9 m in diameter. Often an ornamental plant, it has tubular, rose pink flowers and pollinated by Sunbirds.
The Desert Rose
The scientific name for this plant is the Adenium. It is hardy and succulent, and can grow to 2m in height.
A misconception among those who do grow this plant is that it does not need water or attention. It does, and is sensitive to how much water it gets! Grafting is the best way to propagate this lovely plant.
The trip through the Flower Dome was informative. Much care was taken to lay the botany in a really attractive way for visitors. However, more could have been done to label the plants for those who are not familiar with their names. The view of the Marina Bay Skyline from the dome is also breathtaking and photo worthy.
Journeying around the bay
If one has no desire to embrace all the flora and fauna in the conservatories but just take in the scenic beauty of the Marina Bay, that itself presents many chances for photographs. My husband and I enjoyed ourselves snapping pictures of the bay, which includes the famous revolving observatory, The Singapore Flyer. The skyline is breathtaking at night.
Would you like to pay these gardens a visit?
All in all, Gardens by the Bay is a treasure trove for botany enthusiasts and photographers. It is truly a scenic, almost natural wonder and truly represents the part that anyone can play to save the environment.
Copyright (C) Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin All Rights Reserved
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