The Singapore Botanic Gardens opened in 1859 and has been in continuous operation, even through the Japanese occupation of Singapore in World War 2. It’s a huge space – 183 acres, and about 2.5km long – with lots of special spaces and gardens-within-gardens.
I had been to the Botanic Gardens in Singapore before, but hadn’t looked around much. I had some time on the last day of my recent trip to Singapore so I spent two hours wandering the gardens. I couldn’t possibly do everything in that time, and I didn’t do anything thoroughly – I just got a taste of some of the lovely spots on offer. My camera isn’t working at the moment, so I found some photos of the beautiful gardens on various blogs – each photo links to a post with more photos and stories you may enjoy.
I started at the Bukit Timah gate, at the north of the gardens. I wandered through spots familiar to me – the trellis garden, past the eco lake, and into the bouganvillea garden. At the eco lake there were black swans having fun. One was sitting on a visitor’s picnic blanket! I always enjoy bouganvilleas – the bright colours, the interesting shapes, and the fact that my Pa grew them on his back fence for years when I was younger. The bouganvilleas in the Singapore gardens have a variety of sizes, too – small and highly pruned, and huge towering sprawls.
Next up was the Foliage Garden – one of many spots I could have spent a MUCH longer time in, and would love to returm to! There were lovely curving walks through layers of different plants – a lush mix of different colours and shapes. From ground cover at the base to medium sized plants and taller leaves peeking over the top. I was tempted to stop and sit on a wooden bench surrounded by greenery, but there was so much more to see!
I walked down the western edge of the garden, past the Evolution Garden, up the hill, til I came to the Corner Green. Again, I nearly walked across the green to sit on a bench and read a book in the lovely surrounds – but I kept walking. A walkway covered in vines led down toward the Cascade Garden and Palm Court. Next came Palm Valley, with the view down to Symphony Lake. I nearly detoured down into Heliconia Walk, but in the end stuck with enjoying those along Upper Palm Road as I made my way to the garden I really wanted to see – the National Orchid Garden.
The National Orchid Garden is probably the biggest attraction in the gardens. It was opened in 1995 but the Botanic Gardens have had an orchid breeding program since 1928. It is the only attraction in the Gardens with an admission fee – but $5 SGD is a small price to pay for 60,000 orchid plants! There are 1,000 different species of orchid, and 2,000 hybrids. I found it a very calming and peaceful place, and really enjoyed wandering and looking at all the beautiful blooms.
There were orchids in every colour I could have imagined – and some that surprised me! Every possible shade of pink and purple, from the barest hint of colour to deep and dark shades that looked almost unreal. There was a wide range of yellows, oranges, and reds, often layered near each other. There were even pale greens and brownish tints. And of course, the purest of pure whites. Then there were the textured patterns – different colours combined in different ways – and a wide range of sizes, from large and bold to tiny and delicate. What surprised me most, I think, were the range of petal shapes. There were big rounded petals, of course, but there were also all sorts of thinner shapes, and even twisted petals!
The garden is huge and I didn’t see anywhere near all of it. There are lots of small, quiet walks. There are water features and lovely sculptures – cranes in a fountain, giraffes amongst foliage in a rainforest garden. There are a series of arches covered with tiny yellow orchids. The paths curve up and down and around the hill, with constantly changing vistas and quiet spots to stop and soak in the sights. I could happily spend hours there alone.
Next was a quick walk in Ginger Garden. I learned quite a bit reading the information boards – I never knew how diverse the Zingiberaceae family of plants is. I loved the cone shaped flower pods and the twining branches of the spiral gingers.
Continuing south I stumbled upon The Dell – a damp and dark garden of ferns and twisting paths. It felt like a secret garden that I had all to myself. I walked through and out to Swan Lake. As the lake opened out to my view, I saw two lovely white swans gliding across it. Then the path curved around and I saw the lovely swan sculpture rising out of the water.
At this point I thought I was heading straight to the Tanglin Gate and out – but I kept finding more places to explore. On the south end of the lake was a lovely big flowering tree. To me the flowers seemed to be large versions of the crape myrtles I grew up with. Curious, I went looking for the name plate, and when I got home looked up Rose of India. I was delighted to discover it is in fact a Giant Crape-myrtle!
Next I stumbled upon another garden I hadn’t planned to explore – the Marsh Garden. Once there, though, I couldn’t resist! Once I walked down into the south end of the garden I ended up walking all the way to its north end and back around, enjoying the quiet, the flowers and the layers of plants. I was confused by the white blossoms I saw littered everywhere. The looked like frangipani at first, but the petals were thinner than I’m used to and when I looked closer I saw a lovely star shape in the centre. After a little research online at home I believe they were falling from the tall Pong Pong trees everywhere in the garden.
My last favourites were the big trees I came across on my way out. At the north end of the Marsh Garden was a gorgeous Burmese Banyan tree. Further south I came across a huge Senegal Mahogany which I was surprised to discover was only planted in 1980!
All the trip was missing was my grandparents! I thought of them a lot, knowing they would enjoy the gardens, and wondering what my Pa would have to say about it all. He is extremely knowledgable about plants and gardening; he taught me a lot of about it when I was young and is part of the reason I enjoy gardens as much as I do.
All in all it was two hours very well spent! Hopefully I’ll be able to spend more hours there in the future.