Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Garden City: Singapore

SuperGrove at The Gardens by the Bay in Singapore 
What do you do when you have two weeks off from the studio? Travel to "The Garden City," of course. Singapore has to be the greenest and cleanest city I have ever had the pleasure of visiting; and here's the thing: it was designed to be that way. The story goes that in the 1960's the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew flew over the city and decided that a lush green landscape would result in a happier and healthier society.  A tree-planting initiative was started shortly after, along with putting aside land for parks and green spaces for every development; the green spaces act as a natural air filter for the populous city. Today, parking decks, high-rises, and shopping malls are all draped in green; roads are lined with shady trees; and the public parks are otherworldly in their beauty. The green spaces and parks have increased from 879ha in 1975 to 9,707ha by March 2014, and the number of parks from 13 to 330.   

For the next several days, I will attempt to give a visual tour of my favorite Gardens in Singapore: from the airport Sunflower garden to a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  My First Stop on the Garden tour is the relatively new Gardens by the Bay (opening in 2012). The Gardens by the Bay has three main attractions: the Supertree Grove and the two enormous conservatories: The Flower Dome and The Cloud Forest.

The Supertree Grove is as spectacular as the photos suggest; they tower over the rest of the park and connect with a skywalk enabling visitors to experience life above the canopy. Plants line the sides of the metal structures; you kind of feel as though you've landed on Avatar's Pandora.  Encircling the Supertree grove are a number of smaller Gardens divided into distinct areas: the Colonial Garden, the Malay Garden, the Chinese Garden, the World of Palms, etc.
View of the Harbor and the Flower Dome from the Tallest Supertree 
The Flower Dome is the largest glass greenhouse in the world as of 2015. The plants and flowers are from the Mediterranean and semi- arid regions. The Dome is divided into 9 seamless sections: The Baobabs, A Succulent Garden, The Australian Garden, The South African Garden, the Californian Garden, the South American Garden, the Olive Grove, the Mediterranean Garden, and the Flower Field at it's center. As it was shortly after Christmas, the large central flower field was replaced by enormous decorations that I felt distracted from the natural beauty of the surrounding plants. I would love to see what this greenhouse looks like on a normal day.

Christmas in the Flower Dome
Inside the Flower Dome
Visitors strolling through the Flower Dome
Several impressive driftwood sculptures were scattered throughout the Dome
The Cloud Forest was my favorite part of the Gardens at the Bay. Immediately as you walk into the conservatory, a light mist tickles your face and you smell the earthy scent of wet earth. The mist is coming from the world's tallest indoor waterfall cascading from the side of a mountain that doubles as a six story hanging garden. . . that you can climb.  Each level that you travel up gives you a new perspective with secret views from inside it's core.

The Cloud Forest Dome
A real life Hanging Gardens in the Cloud Forest Dome; world's tallest indoor waterfall

A small piece of the massive green mountain; the variety of plants covering every inch was unbelievable.  

What you find at the top of the Cloud Forest: The Lost World

Walking through the inside of the structure can be just as interesting 
A view from above in the Cloud Forest 
Stay Tuned for Day Two: The Singapore Botanic Gardens (aka I found Eden).

Enjoy a green space today!
The Bayou Botanist

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