The Singapore Botanic Gardens are a UNESCO world heritage site. That was the first thing that I read as I approached the gate. It baffled me because I had no idea why the gardens have achieved the status. From what I knew off the UNESCO world heritage sites, the site had to have a significant amount of history to be awarded the status. I couldn’t help wondering how the Singapore Botanic Gardens was classified under that list. It turned out that I did not have to wait long to find out.
THE HISTORY AND HERITAGE OF THE SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDEN
The history of the Singapore Botanic Garden can be traced down to way back in 1859 to man named Lawrence Nicen. It Lawrence who designed the gardens in his famed style that later went on to influence numerous English landscape gardens and public parks. While this took place in the 18th century, his designs and work can be seen even in today’s era.
The early role of the garden was to foster agricultural development in the region. This was done by collecting, growing, experimenting and finally distributing plants that were considered potentially useful. One of the biggest successes that arose from the garden was that off rubber or as its generic name is ‘Hevea Brasiliensis’. It was the crop that transformed the region which includes that of the neighbouring countries as well. Another plant that the garden had success with is orchids. There is an entire section dedicated to the plant.
Not only has the Singapore Botanic Garden led the way with research and practice, it also has a rich history. So, in a way you can say that it earned its place in the UNESCO sites. That and the fact that the garden is gorgeous. Let’s take a look at the garden, shall we?
LOCATION AND ENTRY FEE
The downside to visiting the Singapore Botanic Gardens is that they are located a bit far away from the centre. Not as far away as the zoo but I guess it depends largely on where you are heading to the gardens from. It is located on the outskirts of Singapore’s Orchard road shopping district but if you want a more accurate address, it is ‘1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569’.
There is no entrance fee to this garden. There is only one spot in the whole garden that has an entrance fee and that is the National Orchid gardens. The cost of the ticket is 5 SGD.
THE SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS
The Singapore Botanic Gardens cover a vast expanse of land so be ready to walk. Cycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed in the park, so you would have to scratch that off the list too. The quiet stroll around the gardens is definitely worth the effort. The garden is divided into different sections. Each section has a theme. The garden also has a number of different exits. I got in through the Tanglin Gate (since I arrived by bus) and exited via Bukit Timah Gate (and aught the MRT from there). This meant that I covered the expanse of the garden diagonally without doubling back too much.
Let me take you through some of the themed gardens that I found fascinating.
THE SWAN LAKE
The statue in the centre of swan lake in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Not a garden but it is in one. The swan lake has a couple of gorgeous swans drifting around in it. That is where it got its name no doubt. The centre of the lake has an impressive piece of art. It depicts a number of swans flying out of the water all at once. The lake, the solitude and peace give you a sense of calmness. There are nice sheltered spots where you can sit and take in the surroundings. In case you find yourself tired or thirsty, a drinking water fountain and a vending machine are nearby.
THE SUNDIAL GARDEN
The sundial garden in Singapore Botanic Gardens.
At first, I did not get way it was called a Sundial garden. Instead of the usual circle, the garden is rectangular with some really pretty statues at its four corners. A short tower rises at its centre which I believe is meant to represent the sundial. Truth be told, I’m still mulling over that in my head. It is a beautiful place to see though.
THE BONSAI GARDEN
One of the many bonsai.
The Bonsai garden is a small garden (pun unintended) and has just a couple of plants on display. Bonsai’s are miniature trees that are cultivated using a Japanese art. The end result is that even though the tree is years old, it is small and mimics the shape of the larger trees of its own species.
The bandstand area in the Singapore Bonsai garden.
I think that the Bandstand are is the most peaceful area in the Singapore Botanic gardens. At one point of time it was used for performances given by different bands. That is probably where it got its name. The octagonal gazebo at the centre is beautifully framed by the Yellow Rain Trees in the backdrop. I think that is what makes it so peaceful.
THE SUN GARDEN
In the sun garden you can catch a glimpse of different types of cacti. Hence, the name ‘Sun Garden’. It lies on the edges of the Bandstand. I should know because for some reason I lost all sense of direction (it always has to happen to me!) and I landed up at the sun garden three times before finally finding my way forward.
THE GINGER GARDEN
I loved the girl on the swing statue in the middle of the pond.
Yes! The Singapore Botanic gardens also has a ginger garden. No! The ginger isn’t exactly on display. The plants are. I was quite surprised to find that there were numerous plants from the ginger family. I think one of the characteristic features are their long leaves. While you are wandering around area, don’t forget to catch a glimpse of the child in the water chestnut pond.
THE NATIONAL ORCHID GARDEN
The National Orchid Garden in Singapore has a collection of different types of orchids and colourful displays.
As I mentioned before, the National Orchid garden is the only part of the Singapore Botanic gardens that has an entrance fee. As off now, that fee stands at 5 SGD per adult. I was running late, and the skies were threatening to explode so I did not visit the inside of the Orchid garden. I do plan on heading back when I get a chance.
THE SYMPHONY LAKE
As you head forward you will come to an impressive lake and sprawling grounds. This lake is called Symphony lake. The green expanse at the side of it is called Palm valley and it adds a certain charisma to the ambiance of the place. This is another great place to sit down for a while. It is away from most of the crowds and is quiet.
THE HEALING GARDEN
The healing of plants extends to us too!
The Singapore Botanic Gardens seeks to educate people about the healing properties of plants through the healing gardens. The displays of plants include a description of which part of the body they are good for and what they treat which makes walking around the healing garden educational and intriguing.
THE FRAGRANCE GARDEN
One of the places that I was looking forward to in the Singapore Botanic gardens was the Fragrance garden. As I entered I had struck up a conversation with a security guard and he said that no matter how bad the weather got, the fragrance from the garden was something that one needed to experience. The Fragrance garden has a number of flowering plants that add their own unique brand of scents to the air. It’s an experience that cannot truly be described by words. It certainly is worth a stop on your way.
THE ECO LAKE
A glimpse of the black swan.
The Eco lake was my last stop on my walk through the Singapore Botanic gardens. In fact, the lake was one of the reasons I kept walking despite the heat. The Eco lake has a few black swans. I had never seen black swans before, so I had to stop for a look. Make sure that you don’t feed the swans. There are signs everywhere. The swans have their own diet and by feeding them you can make them vulnerable and even ill.
With the Eco lake, I was done for the day. There are a couple of other attractions which I missed but I was short on time. If you do stay in Singapore or you have time when you are visiting, consider having a picnic in the gardens. It’s a great place to chill and enjoy nature. I found it educational too!