Gardens by the Bay: A Photo Essay

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This is a photo essay about the new botanical destinations in Singapore. These are world-class venues that should be on all Singapore visitor's list of things to do.

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  • Gardens by the Bay

  • Gardens by the Bay

    A photo essay based on a trip to Singapore, September 2015.

    Text and photos by Kim Bridges and Nancy Furumoto

    Cover: View of the Supertree Grove and some ship loading cranes in the background as seen from the Top of Cloud Mountain in the Cloud Forest dome. This image was heavily processed to remove the smoke filling Singapores sky.

  • Gardens by the BayA brief overviewSingapores Prime Minister has promoted a shift in vision from Singapore as a garden city to a city in a garden. One of the centerpieces in the perceptual change is the creation of Gardens by the Bay. This is all happening on a 101 hectare (250 acres) plot of reclaimed land alongside Marina Bay.

    Gardens by the Bay is a big vision that attempts to create an icon for Singapore, an international destination magnet and a place for the local people to enjoy nature.

    Big developments are expensive. This project is expected to cost $1.03 billion dollars. The annual maintenance is $50 million, half paid by visitor admissions and the other subsidized by the government.

  • The Gardens by the Bay project consists of three areas. This brief overview focuses on part of one of these areas. This includes the Supertree Grove, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest.

    There were impediments on our coming to understand these botanical attractions.

    Our visit was limited to part of a single day. We were there only during daytime hours. The sky outside was choked with pollution from the fires

    burning in Indonesia.

    These constraints are significant. This is a large and complex attraction that is fully worthy of a several-day exploration. Nighttime brings additional features, such as lighting displays. A white sky is dull and obscures much of the surrounding landscape.

  • Development model of Bay South GardenCredit: Wikipedia

    Cloud ForestFlower Dome

    Supertree Grove

  • Supertree Grove

    There are 18 trees in the Supertree Grove. These structures range in height from 25 m (82 ft) to 50 m (164 ft) tall. Some of the trees are connected by a bridge that is 20 m (66 ft) above the ground.

    These striking structures serve important functions. They catch water and have photovoltaic cells on top. They are also an integral part of the cooling system for the two domed conservatories.

  • The base of each tree is covered with epiphytes, such as bromeliads, ferns and orchids.

    Opposite: The Supertree Grove is in a large parklike setting. Note Flower Dome in the background.

  • The Supertree Grove and the surrounding gardens are worthy of a separate visit.

    There is a bar located at the top of one of the trees. This provides a great view of the areas in Gardens by the Bay. We didnt have time to go there.

  • Cloud Forest

    Cloud Mountain is a 42 m (138 ft) tall structure inside the Cloud Forest dome. The conservatory itself is 58 m (190 ft) tall. (Kew Gardens Temperate House is, by contrast, 19 m high.)

    The Cloud Forest conservatory covers 0.8 ha (20 acres). The inside temperature is kept at 23-25C (73-77F) with a humidity of 80-90%. This is about 7C (11F) cooler than typical daytime high temperatures in Singapore, and a bit more humid.

    The design of Cloud Mountain mimics the environments of tropical mountains in the 1000-3000 m (3,300-9,800 ft) elevation zones.

  • You are greeted with a 35 m (115 ft) waterfall, the worlds tallest indoor waterfall, pouring off of Cloud Mountain.

    The mountain itself is covered, largely with epiphytic plants. There is a great abundance of ferns, bromeliads, begonias, orchids and pitcher plants.

    Diversity is on display as many of the species are not commonly seen.

  • The plants have been selected for foliage that has bold textures and interesting colors.

    The plants are very abundant and cover most of the surfaces in 3D. There are regular periods of misting and, with the high humidity, everything appears to be damp.

  • A few areas have trees, often species that are quite rare.

  • Colorful flowers are one of the star attractions. The bright colors punctuate the green background of the Cloud Mountain.

    Diversity and emphasis on the unusual appear to be themes. There are orchids, of course this is Singapore. But there is much, much more to enjoy.

  • The Anthurium species which are woven into the vegetation of Cloud Mountain show the kind of diversity that is not often seen.

    This is one example of how the plants in the Cloud Forest are familiar yet different.

  • You can view the waterfall from near the top of Cloud Mountain.

  • Lost World Pond, on top of Cloud Mountain, has carnivorous plants.

  • Pitcher plants are well represented in the Cloud Forest collection.

    These are not the only insect and small-animal eating plants. There are also sundew and Venus fly catchers.

  • Cloud Walk is a walkway around the outside of Cloud Mountain.

    This walkway, sometimes near Cloud Mountain, other times farther away, lets you see details and the broader perspective.

    Having a walkway take people down the mountain helps with the general flow of traffic. Nice design.

  • Cloud Walk takes you close to the dome, as well as the vegetation.

  • Flower Dome

    This is the worlds largest conservatory that doesnt have internal support columns.

    The height is 38 m (125 ft) and the structure covers 1.2 ha (3 acres). About 2.25 American football fields would fit in here.

    The environment simulates a Mediterranean climate with temperatures of 23-25 C (73-77 F) and a 60-80% relative humidity.

  • Australia

    SouthAmerica

    The BaobabsFlowerField

    Flower Dome is arranged in sections for each regions with a Mediterranean climate. The Flower Field section is reserved for seasonal or topic displays, such as orchids or Chrysanthemum varieties. This is a big place with lots and lots to see.

  • This view shows about 20% of the inside of Flower Dome. Note the size of some of the trees and the general use of the 3D space.

  • Flowers are on display here. There are also big, old trees. But were here to look at flowers. Some are familiar, many are new to us.

  • The Flower Field had a lot of orchids (after all, this is Singapore). The displays often had many of the same variety so that you become overwhelmed by the abundance.

    Similarly, many Chrysanthemum varieties were on display, also shown with great abundance.

    There were lots of interesting arrangements. Creativity was at work here.

    We also found lots of varieties of another favorite, Fuchsia.

  • Photography seems to be encouraged. They even provide frames for your snaps.

  • We were exhausted after seeing three of the main attractions at Gardens by the Bay. Our overall impression is that this has been a very successful addition to Singapore and to the worlds venues for botanical conservation and education.

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