My partner and I have just returned from a wonderful trip to New Zealand, travelling via Singapore.  By way of a change in this winter lull from the garden I thought I would write a few posts about some of the wonderful plants, places and people we encountered on our trip.

We had a stop over of several days in Singapore on the way there and again on the way back which gave us time to explore.  One of the big tourist attractions in Singapore are the Gardens By the Bay.

As well as beautiful outside landscaping and planting the main attractions here are two massive glasshouses – one is a recreation of a cloud forest and the other is called the Flower Dome.  This houses plants from every continent of the world, a bit like the Eden project in Cornwall.  I preferred the cloud forest as it was truly spectacular and really helped me envisage what the true habitat might feel like.

Gardens by the Bay, Cloud Forest Dome


The cloud forest dome is a very warm and damp environment that has water cascading down the walls and it is intensively misted every two hours as well.

water cascade in cloud forest dome

vertically planted wall

There are some exotic and colourful plantings –


– the main purpose of which is for taking selfies judging by the number of people they attracted.


with a touch of the exotic amongst the trees

Among the many fascinating and wonderful plants were these pitcher plants.  Just before going away I had watched a BBC programme with actress Emilia Fox telling the story of Marianne North a Victorian lady botanist and explorer with a passion for these plants so it was great to see some real ones.

pitcher plants

A lift takes you up to the top level, with a view over the bay area of the city.

Singapore skyline

And then you walk down this walkway to the ground level.  I found that hard as I hate heights and exposed places and in part the way down was blocked by more people with their phones taking selfies as I tried to scurry quickly down.

this gives an indication of the height of the building

Although there were impressive trees and plants in there at first I was a bit disappointed with the other dome (in part because of the very large and tacky Father Christmas at the entrance).  The Australian section had some marvellous plants though….

From the Australasian zone I think!

However I was unexpectedly entranced by the plants from arid zones.



As it happens I had just been reading about the remarkable ceibo tree in a new book The Songs of Trees by David George Haskell.

Ceibo tree

And I always remember the baobab tree because Robinson Crusoe spent his first night ashore in one – in the TV programme I watched as a child (though I never read the book so this may be wrong)!

baobab tree

Both ceibo and baobab are in the malvaceae family – the same as the hollyhocks and mallows in my garden – isn’t nature great!

And then outside were the structures that look like trees – they are not merely decorative, but are there to generate solar power.  Behind them is the Marina Bay Hotel – an improbable structure of three towers topped with a boat like construction across all three.  Up on top is an observation deck and infinity pool, it all sounds very impressive but I am glad I was staying somewhere closer to the ground.


solar generating ‘trees’ with Marina Bay Hotel behind



About Anni Kelsey

I love forest gardens and forest gardening, nature, reading and everything good about being alive. I have written two books - the garden of equal delights (2020) - about the principles and practice of forest gardening; and Edible Perennial Gardening (2014) - about growing perennial vegetables in polycultures, which is basically forest gardening concentrating on the lower layers.
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8 Responses to Singapore

  1. skyeent says:

    Thanks for sharing Anni. Fascinating structures (man made and otherwise). I have a friend who grew pitcher plants in his polytunnel….keep some of the flying pests down?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mortaltree says:

    Very beautiful images Anni. Thanks for sharing them!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. forestgardenwales says:

    Any chance to investigate forest gardens on your travels?


    • Anni Kelsey says:

      Unfortunately there wasn’t. But everywhere I go I am looking at the local naturally growing polycultures and people’s gardens and trying to learn from them. I have a few points to make in my next blog post, but am still formulating the content!


  4. tonytomeo says:

    Those are exquisite Yucca rostrata! They are not easy to grow in artificial environments. They are not easy to grow anywhere outside of their natural environment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anni Kelsey says:

      I wasn’t sure which of the plants these were, but have looked online now and yes those are particularly magnificent! It was called the flower dome, but in the arid area there were not many flowers, but the architectural shapes of the plants were more than compensation for that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • tonytomeo says:

        Yucca flowers are not very colorful, but the floral trusses can be spectacular. The Yucca whipplei (or Hesperoyucca whipplei) that I remember from a bit south of here is a terrestrial yucca with floral trusses that can grow past the eaves! Before they got more than two feet tall, we ate the new shoots like humongous asparagus when we were in college. Yucca elata is the state flower of New Mexico, although there is some uncertainty about which specie was actually selected. (It is usually described simply as Yucca, without a specie designation.)


  5. Mark Latimer says:

    Thanks for this lovely, descriptive account of your experience in Singapore. It shows that urban forests/ jungles are not only possible, but highly desirable!

    Liked by 1 person

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