Visit to Armenian Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator

Step two in my ambitious plan to grow my own orchids?* A pilgrimage to the tombstone of Agnes Joaquim, AKA Ashkhen Hovakimian, (1854 – 1899) on the grounds of the Armenian Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator on Hill Street.

Joaquim is best-known for discovering the hybrid orchid, Vanda Miss Joaquim, in 1893 in her Tanjong Pagar garden. In 1981, the flower was selected as Singapore’s national flower.

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This neoclassical building is the oldest Christian church in Singapore. A plaque at the entrance of the church reads: “There were only about a dozen Armenian families in Singapore when they commissioned George Drumgoole Coleman, an Irishman and Singapore’s first architect, to build the Armenian Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator in 1835. The church was consecrated on 26th March 1936 and dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator, the founder of the Armenian Church. Originally, it had a circular pitched roof with a bell tower. The present tiled roof with tower and spire was added about 1853.”

More information about the once-influential Armenian community in Singapore can be found on the church’s website.

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Singapore’s National Parks website tells me: “Vanda Miss Joaquim requires full sunlight, free air movement, high humidity and heavy fertilising to achieve optimum growth and flowering. It needs support to grow straight and tall but it flowers only when the top of its stem rises above the support. It is a robust, sun-loving plant with slender stems best grown in beds against post supports.”

I suppose I’ll have to strike this variety off my list as I don’t have garden beds, just a small balcony. Container-friendly orchids, here I come.

* Step one: Visit the National Orchid Garden.

5 responses

  1. Hi just stopped by your blog and saw this post. I’m not sure if you’ve been to Far East Flora – they have a great selection of orchids there (and also other plants). I’m not in any way affiliated to them but I love their plants.

    A friend’s mom grows prize winning orchids – and she says the trick is to give them a can of beer every now and then.

  2. You should keep a look out for the Singapore Garden Festival (usually in the summer) which always has a fantastic orchid display…as well as incredibly imaginative flower art. We went last year and spent hours walking around the convention centre with our mouths open!