Monday 16 February 2015

Gardens by the Bay

Occupying approximately 101 hectares of prime waterfront real estate in the Marina Bay area, Gardens by the Bay is part of Singapore's vision to be a City in a Garden. Bay South Gardens, Bay East and Bay Central make up the entire garden, and the most popular section is Bay South Gardens, where you can see the 2 conspicuous conservatories - Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, and the 18 Supertrees.

Contrary to what glasshouses (greenhouses) are normally used for, which is to keep plants warm, these 2 conservatories are to keep the plants cool.

The cooled conservatories - Cloud Forest and Flower Dome.

Flower Dome

When you enter the Flower Dome, the first thing that comes to mind is the space. It is very, very spacious. At the time of this writing, it is the largest glasshouse in the world. What is most amazing about the design is there are no internal columns supporting the structure!

The dome replicates the cool and dry Mediterranean climate of regions such as western and southern Australia, South Africa, central Chile, California and the Mediterranean Basin. You will see collections of plants from different corners of the world, including a thousand year-old olive tree. Also doing well in this climate are the baobabs and succulents.

Tip: Walk to the end of the Baobab garden where you can see a driftwood sculpture of a wyvern (not a dragon!). You have an aerial view of the entire gardens below.

No internal columns!

The Flower Field display theme changes
every few months.

Flower Field display for Tulipmania.

Cloud Forest

While the Flower Dome replicates the cool and dry Mediterranean climate, this dome replicates the cool and moist mountainous tropical rainforest climate. When you enter the dome, you will be greeted by the world's tallest indoor waterfall.

Cloud forests are found near the Equator and they must be at least 1000m above sea-level. Less than 2.5% of tropical rainforests are cloud forests and they are very rare. Many are relatively unexplored, and scientists are still discovering new species of plants and animals in such forests.

After the waterfall, make your way to the Lost World, which is the top of the 'mountain' inside the dome. As you descend the 'mountain', you can see different kinds of plants planted on the sides as well as views of the outdoor garden and surroundings.

Tip: Try to time your visit to the Cloud Forest at 10am, 12noon, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm or 8pm. Mist is released at these timings to make the 'mountain' look misty and foggy. If you are very lucky, you may even see a rainbow when the late afternoon sun shines on the waterfall.

World's tallest indoor waterfall.

Cloud Walk, which leads you down the 'mountain'.

Lady's Slipper Orchid.

Supertree Grove and OCBC Skyway

If you do not wish to leave the gardens without taking a picture of the 2 domes together with some of the Supertrees, then you should head over to the OCBC Skyway at the Supertree Grove. You get to walk from one Supertree to another via a walkway 22m above the ground.

Not only do you get an aerial view of the gardens, you get excellent views of the Marina Bay area and central business district.

Supertrees and the OCBC Skyway.

There is an admission fee to the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and OCBC Skyway. If you live in Singapore and will make multiple visits to the gardens, I highly recommend getting the Annual Pass, which is good value for your money.

Tip: The Flower Dome and Cloud Forest are usually closed for maintenance every last Monday and Tuesday of each month. Please check the maintenance schedule at the official web site for details.