Tag Archives: International

Gardens by the Bay & HortPark

January 11, 2012 – Gardens by the Bay & HortPark, Singapore
(written by Quill Teal-Sullivan, photographs by Wonsoon Park and Sara Levin)

The past two days have been full to the brim with visits to many of Singapore’s beautiful parks and urban green spaces. Tuesday morning started at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore’s newest and largest garden project sitting on one-hundred and one hectares encircling Marina Bay.  We were greeted by Chris Dalzell, a former Longwood international intern who recently moved from South Africa to act as the garden’s Assistant Director of Garden Operations.  Chris and his colleagues toured us around the site, which will be completed for an official public opening in June of this year. Gardens by the Bay features two large conservatories – one that will create a cool-dry Mediterranean climate, and the other a cool-moist mountain climate.

Flower Dome of the Gardens by the Bay

We were able to tour the Flower Dome, freshly planted with remarkable specimens imported from around the world.  Most notable were the enormous baobabs planted on a cantilevered overlook, and the gnarled one-thousand-year old olive trees just in from southern Spain.  Another highlight of the gardens were the eighteen “super trees” gracefully arching overhead, clad with epiphytes and climbers.  The “super trees” are one of the spectacularly clever aspects of the garden design, acting as a venting system for the glasshouses, water catchment mechanism, solar energy receptor, as well as an aesthetic wonder.

Super Tree

After a lunch of various local delights, we met with Dan Burcham (our host with the most and LGP alumn), and his colleagues at the National Parks Board (NParks) to tour four exceptional urban greening sites. As part of Singapore’s vision of “the city in a garden”, NParks offers financial assistance to green the exterior of existing buildings.  Three of the sites we visited were vertical green walls each designed by a different firm with a unique system and design philosophy.  The end of a long and most stimulating day of garden touring culminated in a trip to the top of Marina Bay Sands Sky Park to decompress and admire the city from above.

Green wall at the F1 race track

On Wednesday we traveled to HortPark, a display garden within the NParks system that features small-scale garden exhibits aimed to inspire Singaporean residents to include gardens and horticulture in their home life.  HortPark partners with local landscape companies that rent small plots to display their design, acting as publicity for the company and inspiration for the visitors.  As Abby says, “it is the perfect collaboration between government, industry, and community”.

Vegetable Garden at HortPark

Silver Garden at HortPark

HortPark sits within the Southern Ridges region, a chain of parks, gardens and natural areas linked with ‘park connectors’.  Two knowledgeable NParks staff, Wilson and Eric, led us on an excursion through a few of the natural areas. This included a jungle accessed by a 9 km canopy bridge, home to a delinquent gang of macaque monkeys, as well as a most beautiful wooden bridge with views to the sea and the city.

Dillenia suffriticosa

The evening was capped with a barbeque accompanied by the senior staff of NParks at the Outwardbound Singapore headquarters.  We ate satay and fresh fruit in the evening heat, feeling so grateful for the generosity of our Singaporean hosts and, the incredible opportunity we have as Longwood students to experience the ‘city in a garden’.

Canopy walkway at southern ridges

Henderson Waves

Singapore Botanic Gardens and CUGE

January 9, 2012 – Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore
(written by Wonsoon Park, photographs by Martin Smit and Wonsoon Park )

Even though Singapore can be very hot and humid the weather was cool enough for us to forget about our jetlag and be immersed in the beauty of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Imagine vast breathtaking tropical gardens with enormous trees and extraordinary flowers, all without the need of any glasshouses or conservatories.

Tour of the orchid breeding program facilities of SBG

The SBG was established in 1859 as the very first garden in Singapore and was initially used in introducing various tropical crops to Southeast Asia. These days the SBG is conducting all the functions of a modern botanic garden. Amazingly, it is open to public from 5am to midnight daily and attracts more than 4 million visitors per year, making it one of the most publically used gardens of the world.

The national flower of Singapore, Vanda Miss Joaquim

The national flower of Singapore, Vanda Miss Joaquim

The Cool House for displaying orchids needing cooler conditions

After a brief meeting with the director, Dr. Nigel Taylor, and various heads of departments, we had a tour of the facilities and gardens. We ended our visit to the SBG with a Q&A session with the SBG staff.  Our last activity of the day was a quick visit to Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (CUGE). Assistant director, Chong Whye Keet, gave a quick presentation on CUGE that provided a greater insight into this unique department.

Oncidium arches in the National Orchid Garden

A strangler fig growing in the remnant rainforest in the SBG

 

Travel to Singapore and Indonesia: follow us

This January the first year fellows will be traveling to Singapore and Indonesia for what promises to be an amazing International Experience 2012. Longwood staff members, Shawn Kister and Sharon Loving, will be joining for the Singapore leg of the journey while Tom Brightman and Wendy Gentry will be traveling with the fellows to Indonesia.

Inside one of the new conservatories at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. (Photo, courtesy of Chris Dalzell)

This travel opportunity will be the culmination of months of preparation in which all fellows were working diligently to make contact with and plan visits to various institutions. We will kick off our International Experience when we arrive in Singapore on the 8th of January. From Singapore we will be traveling on to the island of Bali and then on to Bogor, located on West-Java, before returning on the 21st of January. Some of the diverse sites that we will be visiting include the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Gardens by the Bay, Pulau Ubin, Bali Botanic Garden, Bogor Botanic Garden, Cibodas Botanic Garden, Taman Bunga Nusantara and the Gede-Pangrango National Park to name but a few.

We invite you all to follow us on our Blog and share in this unique experience.