Gardening in Singapore
peaceful oases, serene passersby: a visit to Singapore's
Botanical Gardens leaves Phil McCann wanting more
At best you can be fined for dropping litter, chewing
gum, swearing and jaywalking. At worse you could face
a corrective work order - Singapore certainly sounded
like a place worth visiting.
On entering the airport I was hit by the sheer blooming
brilliance of its horticulture. Orchids draped themselves
elegantly around the arrival hall, landscaped gardens
embraced the airport terminals and the drive into the
city was a journey through belts of lush tropical green.
All tended to perfection, with I suspect fallen leaves
and broken branches being swept away before they had
the chance of creating any unease in visitors and residents
All bridges across
the main roads were clothed in bubbling bougainvillea,
most in flower, but I was worried. Would the botanical
gardens, the main reason to visit along with afternoon
tea at Raffles Hotel, be gardened to the point of sterility?
Could the showpiece gardens of Singapore, and indeed
Asia, be too manicured and too clinical? I'm not saying
that dropping my chewing gum wrapper on the lawn while
swearing at a local jaywalker is my thing, but the occasional
tree stump ripped out by tornados and monsoons would
be interesting. I needed to be impressed.
And I was - Singapore Botanical Gardens is an absolute
delight. Entering the gardens, free of charge, through
the Tanglin Gate entrance, clumps of bamboo, 20 feet
high, punctuated the vast areas of tightly cropped grass.
Swan Lake was a peaceful oasis in what is a throbbing
city, with the delicate and underrated Singapore Rhododendron
(Melastoma malabathricum) looking serene in the early
took notes and looked as if they wanted to learn about
the plants as they crocodiled through the orchid displays.
Poets and artists sat and contemplated whatever poets
and artists contemplate, lovers strolled hand-in-hand,
and picnickers enjoyed the perfect surroundings, meticulously
taking home every piece of litter. Amazing specimens
like the Cannonball Tree (Couroupita guianensis) had
me gasping in wonderment, flowers and fruit emerging
from the massive, craggy trunks. And yet, with the hustle
and bustle of the vibrant city all around, I felt that
I was the only person in the place. Before long I was
playing a vital part in this spectacle of nature. Singapore
Botanical Gardens needs to be visited and admired, and
leaving the main gates and visitor centre, on to Cluny
Street, I vowed to return. It's that kind of place.
Oh yes, I nearly forgot, afternoon tea at Raffles is
Visit our Helping Hands Workshop to see how you can
introduce exotic plants into your garden click
with premission from Greenfingers.com