Friday, October 31, 2008


Founded in 1859 in its present site, the Singapore Botanic Gardens epitomises the tropical island's luxuriant parks. Spread over 52 hectares and close to the centre of the city, the Gardens showcases many outstanding plant collections. Some highlights include the National Orchid Garden, the Ginger Garden, and the Evolution Garden. The numerous plant species here, including many rare specimens, reflect the Singapore Botanic Gardens' richness and diversity of plant life. Love orchids? The present orchid enclosure has 20,000 orchid plants on display. The National Orchid Garden promises sprawling orchid displays, water features, and an exotic bromeliad collection from Central and South America. Or head on down to Symphony Lake where outdoor concerts provide entertainment amidst a lush milieu. (Source: Singapore Tourism Board & The Singapore Botanic Gardens)

In comparison however, the Jardin Botanico of Manila was established during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. The garden was resurrected by the Americans under the supervision of John C. Mehan, who was in charge of sanitation and cemeteries. It was the place of choice for weekend outings with its mini-zoo, decorative ponds, and diverse flora (Source: The Heritage Conservation Society). It is now more known as the Mehan Gardens and is nowhere near what it originally was. In 2002, the NHI declared the area a National Historical Landmark because it was the site of the Parian and the city's first botanical garden. But I digress.
The main entrance where you get a copy of the map and other brochures.

If you visit early in the morning, the park is already full of people jogging.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Built in 1866, Burkill Hall is a fine example of an early colonial bungalow. Burkill Hall used to be the Director’s House, and its current name commemorates the only father and son pair, Isaac and Humphrey Burkill, to hold the post of Director of Singapore Botanic Gardens. Weddings and receptions are also held here.At the back of the Burkill Hall is the VIP Orchid Garden and here the real hybrids of some of the VIP orchids are on display.

Isn't this so amazing? This is the Dendrobium Michael Jeffrey named after the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia during his visit in 2004.
And of course, one which is named after our President - the Aranthera Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It wasn't in bloom during my visit. Too bad. :-(

This is GMA's Aranthera. They are taller than the President herself.

Singapore's national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquin. Our sampaguita, on the other hand, was adopted as the Philippines' national flower in 1934 by Governor Frank Murphy through Proclamation No. 652.
White dendrobium sprays line the pathways. So, so beautiful. We have this kind of variety in Davao and is very expensive at Php 250/dozen. The Bangkok dendrobiums are cheaper at Php 320/3 dozens. Tsk, tsk.

The Tan Hoon Siang Mist House is home to several more rare orchid varieties. Misters are all over and sprays the plants on a regular basis. Tan Hoon Siang is Chinese of Perenakan descent, a descendant of a philantropist who is widely respected in Singapore.

My favorite orchid, the Phalaenopsis amabilis. Nothing can compare to the graceful elegance of pure white Phalaenopsis in full bloom. Their popularity helped increase the worldwide demand for orchids. The good thing is, they are among the easiest plants to grow indoors thus making them a very popular choice as indoor ornamentals in Asian homes and hotels around the globe. Whenever I am hospitalized (which is rare), some friends would send me pots of white Phalaenopsis. Sweet! In Manila's flower markets, a long stem of 10-15 flowers sell for Php 500.
The beautiful Cattleya, my mother's personal favorite. In Manila, this sells for Php 250-350 per flower.

A popular orchid among florists, the Oncidium, it belongs to a large family of 750 epiphytic orchids which grow in select areas around the world. It is commonly known as the Dancing Ladies.

Now that is a tall durian tree!


Located in the heart of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the Cool House houses several species of plants usually found only in rainforests (of the montane kind). It has a collection of several upland orchids as well as very interesting carnivorous (or insectivorous) plants. Some of the plants are quite common in the Philippines and are usually found in places of not very high elevations like Bukidnon or Antipolo.

C'mon, let's get in!
The Cool House has a daytime maximum temperature of 25 Celsius and a night time minimum of 15 Celsius, with daily relative humidity of about 90%. It was designed to capture for the public the beauty of canopy landscapes of tropical montane forest with their many interesting epiphytes. It is no wonder that this newly added gem of botanical display has become one of the main attractions for the half a million visitors to the National Orchid Garden each year.

A man-made stream which is probably run by a motor pump gushes through this gully. It intends to imitate the streams in the uplands which cut through thick vegetation and provides the much needed moisture for the plants in these areas.

Is this the Darlingtonia californica ?
There's the stream behind and beneath this railing. Also, you can see the airconditioning vents which control the temperature inside this facility.

A tree fern (the Dicksonia antartica ?) from Australia reaches as high as the glass ceiling.
Pitchers, probably the Heliamphora chimantensis.
The Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). It's so beautiful to see one up close. You can actually reach out and touch it - that is, if you dare. Just kidding! :-) If you feed a Venus Flytrap something that doesn't move, e.g., a dead insect, it will not close tightly over it. You need to squeeze the trap and move the food around so it imitates the action of a live insect.
On a regular basis, mist is released by vents from the ceiling. Once outside again, you can complete the tour of the Garden via a pathway. The signages are very helpful so do not fail to read or you'd get lost.

After a looong tour of the Botanic Gardens, you'd end up at this gift shop near the entrance which sells orchids dipped in gold. Perfect for framing or as jewelry accents. Other products are also available.

I forgot to do the standard pose at the Orchid Garden Gate. When in this humid city, it helps to bring with you a HUGE bottle of water and, well, in my case, a fan. Very helpful. After this, you can exit the Garden via the long paseo as seen below passing by another lake (the Swan Lake). The gate at the end of it exits at Bukit Timah Road, if I'm not mistaken.

Swan Lake. The beautiful sculpture called Flight of Swans (for obvious reasons) was installed in May of 2006.

And with that we end our tour of the National Orchid Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. :-)

For more information, please contact:
Visitor Services
Singapore Botanic Gardens
1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569
Telephone: 6471 7138/6471 7361
Fax: 6473 7983
Email: NPARKS_SBG_Visitor_Services@NPARKS.GOV.SG