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.
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.
There are some exotic and colourful plantings –
– the main purpose of which is for taking selfies judging by the number of people they attracted.
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.
A lift takes you up to the top level, with a view over the bay area of the city.
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.
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….
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.
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)!
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.