The Supertree Grove, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
On the way home, a brief stopover. Well it would be rude not to. One gets turfed off the plane in any event while it refuels so why not extend the walk through the terminal just that little bit further and hop in a taxi to a hotel?
Why not indeed. The view from our hotel room, looking out over the iconic Marina Bay Sands.
The odd shaped and very pink structure at right is the Art Science museum, an invasion from outer space, an unfurling bloom or a sugar coated Terry’s chocolate orange depending on your point of view.
I wasn’t sure what to expect if I’m honest. As I’ve mentioned on many previous occasions I’m no city girl. Give me vast empty spaces, desolate and dramatic landscapes, huge skies and panoramic vistas, enough bird calls just to break the silence.. and maybe the odd emu bounding through. But concrete, steel, 24 hour traffic noise and light pollution sufficient to blot out the stars? Well not so much. The weather was never going to be brilliant either. Like most of south east Asia come mid January, in Singapore it’s the monsoon.
The Conservatory Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Let’s play it safe to start with and head for the botanicals. The Flower Dome is the largest glass greenhouse in the world, featuring an oft changing display of plants from Mediterranean and semi arid regions. It’s kept at a constant 23-25C, worth the ticket price alone when the external temperature is in the mid 30s and the humidity is off the scale.
This place really is enormous, enough to fit in whole palm trees with room to spare. Phoenix canariensis, the Canary Island Date Palm.
The bizarre Drunken Trees, Ceiba chodatii
‘La Famille de Voyageurs’, 2014, by French sculptor Bruno Catalano
It was difficult to get the best photo angle without a lot of background clutter, so look closely. “It depicts a family visiting the Gardens by the Bay before heading to the airport for the journey home. As they depart this tropical garden city they take with them beautiful memories and leave a part of themselves behind.” The sculpture was a gift from Singapore Changi Airport to the Gardens by the Bay.
Sculpture of various sorts popped up throughout the planting. Pigs, alpacas, mischievous imps, elegant insects.. and these two characters:
“So did you enjoy your day in the Flower Dome Piglet?”
“Oh yes Pooh, hugely!”
To be honest, some of the displays were on the rather vibrant side for me.
Not all though. A touch of the familiar in a most unexpected place. Geranium ‘Rozanne’.
But if you thought the Flower Dome was amazing, wait till we cross over the concourse and enter the Cloud Forest..
Sheer terraced walls filled with moisture loving plants, shielded from the fierce tropical heat at a constant temperature of 23-25C.
The walkways have a dual purpose. Not only do they give an incredible perspective of the structure, and close up views of the plants, every two hours sprays of mist from underneath the paths provide the moisture which keeps it all looking so lush.
Orchids revelling in the mist
I loved this way of displaying tillandsia and all manner of miniature treasures in the perspex globes.
Cloud forests are among the most threatened ecosystems on the planet, as a result of climate change. As we leave the dome we are channelled through a video presentation on the likely impact of climate change over the next few decades. It was a powerful presentation and interesting to see just how many people were actually stopping to watch. Of all nationalities. Perhaps, at last, the message might finally be getting through.
Ironically of course Singapore is itself a vast consumer of power, it takes only the briefest glimpse of the city at night to appreciate that, but sustainability efforts are starting to gain ground. The cooling systems within the Gardens by the Bay domes apparently achieve a reduction of 30% over conventional cooling technologies and small amounts of energy are generated on site via horticultural waste from both here and other parks and gardens across the city. There is just such a long way still to go.
An acknowledgement of the role of science was something that cropped up frequently in Singapore. This is the double helix bridge, inspired by the structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the substance from which all our genes are made.
Inset into the floor of the bridge at regular intervals along it, a representation of the paired bases of DNA, the fundamental units of the genetic code.
Guanine and cytosine..
Adenine and thymine.
Biology lessons brought into the 21st century.
From the photo of the helix bridge above you may have spotted this:
The Singapore Flyer. At a height of 165m it’s one of the world’s largest observation wheels. And of course Mike wanted to go on it.
Top tip: Get there early in the morning, before the crowds. We even managed to persuade the nice ticket collector to give us a pod of our own.
The Flower (right) and Cloud Forest Domes and the Supertree Grove. Singapore is a major south east Asian shipping port. The queue of vessels moored up in the Strait never diminished.
Looking the other way towards the Marina Bay Sands complex. At centre a vast shopping arcade and casino. Vegas style. The three towers of the hotel itself between them provide 2500 rooms. Imagine the queue for breakfast. Perched on the top, in the structure mimicking the cruise liners often seen docked in the harbour beyond, the famous infinity pool with its views out across the city. Instagram heaven. Or hell.
Back in the Gardens by the Bay a brown-throated Sunbird, almost hidden within the structure of a Supertree. We were alerted to its presence only by its shrill call.
The OCBC Skyway
After the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk this one was a veritable walk in the park. A solid floor. No wobbles. And even a lift!
Next time.. a curiosity or two from Singapore. This post is already getting rather long.
Funny how someone who professes not to like cities very much can manage to include so many shots.. ?