Singapore aggressively pursued its reputation as a green city as early as the 1960s and 1970s, when the newly independent country was in the rush of rapid economic development and urbanization. While the authorities built thousands of public housing blocks, they also planted trees and shrubs along the main highway bringing visitors from the airport to the city center.
The first phase of the SG$1B Gardens by the Bay project, Bay South Garden, project opened today. The garden includes two giant conservatories: a 1.2-hectare Flower Dome conservatory replicates the climate of the Mediterranean and includes a semiarid subtropical environment and a .8 hectare Cloud Forest conservatory replicates the cool-moist climate found in tropical mountain regions half a mile to two miles above sea level. Eighteen “Supertrees,” or tree-like structures, dominate the garden’s landscape. They are home to unique and exotic ferns, vines, and orchids. This being Singapore, the gardens also house dining and retail offerings. A friend described Bay South Garden as “one crazy mash-up of space alien horticulture meets heritage industry meets unabashed tourist trap.”
I can’t wait to visit. We have plans to do so next week as my in-laws are in town. (No need to join the throngs this opening weekend!)
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Deanna Ng, a photographer whose portraiture I admire very much, documents her “garden city” in a solo exhibition at OBJECTIFS Centre for Photography and Filmmaking. “I’ve always been fascinated with the trees on our little island,” she says. “I can’t help but marvel at how [they transform] our landscape from an urban city into something that looks like it came out from a fairy tale.”
Garden City closes on Saturday. Go, go, go!
(Additional credits: Photographs via Time Out Singapore.)