Singapore has done it again. Gardens by the Bay, which recently opened in the Lion City's Marina Bay area, is unique for its size and landscape design.
Most people tend to think that the man-made garden is a synthetic park. But the two famous conservatories in the project, Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, are more than warehouses of exotic plants, and the "Supertrees" are not only towering steel installations.
Located on a 101-hectare plot by Marina Bay, Gardens by the Bay boasts two temperature-controlled conservatories that house exotic plants from around the world, and offer interactive environmental information; and an outdoor vertical garden, named Supertrees. The Supertrees are replicas of big trees which are home to hundreds of plants.
"It is always nice to have another botanical garden in Singapore that is easily accessible to the public," said Lynda Lim, PR manager of Gardens by the Bay. The venture has been criticised for turning a plot in a prime area into another botanical garden, said Lim.
Some say the area should have been used for commercial purposes, while others complained about the high entry fees for the two conservatories. Only three months after opening, however, the number of visitors has hit one million, and more than half are locals.
Located by the bay just across from the new shopping complex, Shoppes at Marina Bay, the gardens are open daily for the public to go jogging, exercising and picnicking as well as to enjoy the exotic plants. The landscape of the two conservatories and the Supertrees is unique.
Within the Flower Dome conservatory, there are nine different zones: Baobabs and Bottle Trees, Succulent Garden, Australian Garden, South African Garden, South American Garden, Californian Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Olive Garden and Flower Field.
While most of the floral displays are permanent, the Flower Field reflects the changing seasons as well as featuring various festivals and themes. It recently displayed the "Autumn Harvest Garden" with pumpkins imported from the US especially for Halloween. The corner will be turned into a Christmas/winter corner next month.
On the walkway linking the two conservatories there are interactive screens on the pollination process involving bees.
The Cloud Forest conservatory houses a mountain and waterfalls. The displays, hidden on the surface and in the mountain, are divided into nine sections; Lost World, Cloud Walk, The Cavern, Waterfall View, Crystal Mountain, Tree Top Walk, Earth Check, +5 Degrees and Secret Garden.
Apart from 130,000 plants (comprising over 400 species and cultivars) that represent the cool, moist climate, the most interesting part is the informative +5 Degrees video clip. It predicts what the Earth will encounter within the next 100 years if we continue to waste natural resources. Unless we act quickly to change fate, we are likely to encounter droughts, dwindling food sources and more diseases. Some estimate that half of the world's animal species are doomed to extinction by 2060.
To encourage the use of alternative energy in real life, Gardens by the Bay has implemented an energy-saving project. Some of the energy used within the gardens comes from alternative or recycled sources. For example, the transparent glass of the conservatories reflects heat out of the dome but leaves enough light for the trees inside.
Part of the energy used in the conservatories comes solely from recycled horticultural waste. Collected from all over Singapore, this horticultural waste is turned into biogas that powers the chillers that keep the conservatories at a constant 23-25C.
Part of the water used within the gardens is from the reservoir; recycled water and rain water is also collected.
In addition, solar panels have been installed on 11 of the 18 Supertrees. Alternative energy is also used to light up the Supertrees in the evening.
The Outdoor Gardens are open from 5am-2am and entry is free of charge.
The conservatories are open from 9am-9pm. Admission fees start from S$8.
About the author
- Writer: Sirinya Wattanasukchai