I was in Singapore recently and, while I didn’t plan to, I ended up visiting two very different gardens the two days I was there.
One was Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. Beautifully designed and maintained gardens built on reclaimed land. It has quickly become a huge tourist attraction for the island nation.
I was taken there around sunset so that I could catch the daily light show that takes places at the super trees.
What’s a super tree I hear you ask? It’s a huge 2 to 3 storey metal structure in the shape of a tree that is used as a support for various species of orchids, bromeliads, air plants and flowering creepers. One of the trees even has a revolving restaurant at the top. They make a colourful tapestry as they grow up the sides of the super tree.
There is also a bridge suspended from the super trees that patrons can walk along to enjoy an aerial view of the gardens. I was wearing a dress, so there was no way I was going to attempt the bridge walk that night!
The second garden was on a much smaller scale but much more impressive in my books. My uncle, took me to see some vegetable gardens that residents of a nearby housing development board (HDB) apartments had created.
I was expecting to see herbs, green vegetables and beans at the most. I wasn’t expecting a test garden for varieties of fruits and vegetables from other parts of the world.
We were lucky enough to meet one of the gardeners, watering his plants. Mr. Lee had one of the healthiest and most abundant gardens in the place.
Each plot has been fenced along the sides and the top to keep out birds and small animals. It varies in size but Mr Lee’s was about 2 metres by 5 metres. There were two types of grapevines growing along the top support structure, rare chinese dates, purple chilli plants, a curry leaf plant, spinach, choy sum, kailan, other herbs and a variety of flowering plants. He also had two large pots – one with a lotus and another with a waterlily. And both pots had iridescent guppies swimming around. They are pretty to look at and they eat up all the mosquito larvae.
Mr Lee, who was very kind in answering all our questions, said he developed his garden primarily for exercise. He started by getting permission to farm the strips of land next to the walkway near his HDB flats and his garden grew from then on.
It’s obviously a labour of love for Mr. Lee. He goes on trips to Europe, China and America to source plants for his garden. He also goes out after dark with a torch to pick off slugs and snails. He says that’s the only way to bring them under control. He does this for 3 days running and his plants are safe from the depredations of these creepy crawlies for a time.
Other residents have also joined in and started their own gardens. Now the whole strip of land is full of vegetables and flowering plants.
I thought what these residents were doing really wonderful and special, considering how many people live in apartments in Singapore. It’s wonderful that they get the opportunity to work the land and special that they feel the need to connect with the land. This is one of the places I want to visit again to see how it progresses over the years.
Unfortunately, I have no pictures. Long story for another time. The photos you see here though are from my uncle’s garden in Singapore. The plants were so pretty, I just had to take pictures.