Welcome! Selamat Datang! Bien Venue!

Dedicated to all those who are interested in world folklore, culture and nature. Comments and constructive criticisms are welcome!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Singapore's Garden by the Bay

After admiring all the photos on the Internet of Singapore's Garden by the Bay, Shona and I decided to take a look for ourselves when we visited the city state, last week. The 18 'Supertrees' were spectacular and so were the two massive glass domed conservatories. 

The award winning supertrees of the Garden by the Bay
The Garden by the Bay opened to the public in 2012 and is reputed to be one of the most costly projects undertaken by the Singapore Government. It sprawls over 101 hectares of reclaimed land.

I'm not surprised this Garden won so many awards - it's not just an architectural show piece or an amusement park,  the Garden and its man-made  'supertrees' serve a function in urban climate modification. These trees collect rainwater, generate electricity via solar cells and they also maintain the micro climate inside two massive glass domes by dispersing heat. Excess water collected by the supertrees are drained into a man-made lake called the Dragonfly lake.

 Dragonfly Lake helps to store excess water collected by the supertrees

The Garden by the Bay also provides recreational activities and is fast becoming a tourist attraction. The ultimate aim is to attract 5 million visitors a year (!!!) which I suppose would make it self-sustaining, financially. Besides the visual feast, the park is positively educational and provides an opportunity to exercise both your brains as well as your muscles. The dizzying sky walks will take your breath away. 

Take a walk in the sky! In the background is the equally spectacular Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
All pictures taken by Tutu Dutta, using an Olympus camera as I disdain camera phones.
There are three heritage gardens on the grounds: a typical Malay garden, a Chinese garden and an Indian garden. There are bamboo groves in the Chinese garden but we did not find them all that impressive. What is a Chinese garden without a a small lake surrounded by weeping willows and of course a pergola... perhaps a lotus pond and a little temple for the Indian garden? There was a Banyan tree and numerous frangipani trees but a few parijata and pala trees might add to its charm. The kampong house in the Malay garden was underwhelming...

Moon Gate entrance to the Chinese Garden. Note the fake-looking concrete coloured rocks.
The Garden by the Way is barely a decade old - the project probably started at around 2006. Gardens, especially gardens especially park-like gardens with trees may take a few decades to reach full maturity. So we should expect to see the Heritage Gardens in all their glory in a couple of years...
What were truly impressive were the two glass domed conservatories: a tall narrow one which simulated a hill housed the Cloud Forest and a long low one, which housed the Flower Garden. 

The Flower Dome as seen from a distance

 The interior of these domes are climate controlled- the mountain like Cloud Forest is chilly and moist while the Flower Dome replicates the cool and dry of the Mediterranean and cool semi arid regions such as South Africa. The roof gardens are in the Cloud Forest.

As the entrance fees were quite expensive, we decided to only visit one of the domes. We love flowers but we chose the 'Cloud Forests' because of its more interesting ecology. The pictures speak for themselves...

The cloud forest has a towering indoor waterfall...
The first thing we noticed when we entered the dome was the cool air, in fact it was positively chilly inside. A huge relief to escape from the sweltering heat outside and we decided to take our time exploring this dome. An impressive waterfall added to the allure of the cloud forest.

Metal walkways circle the dome at a few levels...

Shona had to conquer her fear of heights to traverse these walkways...

Insect eating pitcher plants up close...
 Pitcher plants grow on nitrogen poor soil so they depend on insects for nitrogen. But I didn't see any insects in the dome, so I suppose the gardeners just give them nitrogen supplements wink emoticon

Plant diversity on a man-made mountain. 

This is a remarkable project which one hopes will serve as a model for future parks and tourist attractions. Instead of the multitude of theme parks with roller coasters, fake cliffs, caves and castles which only serve to entertain, perhaps we will have parks which serve a biological and educational purpose.

No comments: