Singapore may be known for her gleaming skyscrapers, high-end shopping malls and glitzy night scene, but there’s a calming nature sanctuary on hand when the buzz of city life gets too much. The 101ha Gardens by the Bay – the nation’s largest green space to date – is due to be completed in 2015, but the first section has opened on June 29 this year is the Bay South Garden. At 54ha, it is the largest of three waterfront gardens – the other two being Bay East and Bay Central – and promises a spectacular showcase of horticulture and garden artistry after five long years in the making. Here are the highlights:
1. FLOWER DOME
At 1.2ha, the Flower Dome (above) is the larger of two cooled conservatories (sculpted, glass-panelled structures situated on the edge of the Marina Reservoir). Plants bloom here in perpetual spring because the energy-efficient architectural marvel replicates the cool, dry conditions of a Mediterranean and semi-arid climate. Besides baobabs (bottle trees), olive trees and date palms, the Flower Field will also feature changing displays of blooms to reflect different seasons, festivals or themes.
2. DRAGONFLY LAKE
One of the two lakes flowing through Bay South, the Dragonfly Lake teems with fish, plants and other aquatic life. Take to the boardwalk to understand how it provides naturally-treated water for irrigation in the Gardens, and how it is an ideal habitat for biodiversity.
The focal point of the Bay South Garden is the 18 Supertrees. Towering at between 25m and 50m tall, there are three Supertrees each in the Golden and Silver Gardens respectively, which also feature a variety of epiphytes, ferns and tropical flowering climbers with gold and silver hues. The other 12 Supertrees are clustered in the Supertree Grove.
4. HERITAGE GARDENS
The four Heritage Gardens are a diverse collection of themed gardens that reflect Singapore’s cultural heritage. They include The Colonial Garden, with spice trade and cash crops like cloves and cocoa trees; The Chinese Garden which showcases stone structures and symbolic plants like bamboo and pagoda trees; The Malay Garden and its glimpse of traditional kampong (village) life with fruit trees like jambu and breadfruit; and The Indian Garden – where plants associated with Hindu philosophy like the jasmine tree, bloom.
Gardens by the Bay has opened to the public on June 29. Admission to the Bay South outdoor garden is free; access to the other attractions are ticketed.