Strange Horizons: seeing the future

29 05 2014

The future world does seem to have arrived in Singapore. Rising out of what used to be the old harbour is a new world, the seeds of which were really sown at the end of the 1960s. It was in 1967 that Singapore embarked on the State and City Planning Project (SCP) in 1967 with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme’s special assistance scheme for urban renewal and development for emerging nations. 

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The SCP completed in 1971, identified the need for a coastal highway to divert traffic out of the city, requiring land to be reclaimed for what was to be the East Coast Parkway (ECP) and the Benjamin Sheares Bridge. It was with this that the planners recognised that there was benefit in further reclamation of land to provide land for the city’s expansion south, land on which a new downtown is now, some four decades after the initial reclamation commenced, in the process of being built.

Among the first structures rising in the new world are several that have since become one of the most photographed and recognisable structures in Singapore including the Sky Park topped hotel towers and lotus flower inspired ArtScience Museum of Moshe Safdie’s Marina Bay Sands integrated resort complex (2010) and the Supertrees and cooled conservatories of the Gardens by the Bay  (2012) that is seen in the above photograph, which was taken across what today is a fresh water channel of water at the Bay East garden of the Gardens by the Bay.





Strange Horizons: reflections on the alien invasion at the bay

28 05 2014

Maybe now not such a strange horizon – the view of the alien structures that have invaded the new world at Marina Bay’s Garden’s by the Bay, reflected off the Dragonfly Lake. The structures are probably among the most photographed in Singapore and are now very recognisable across the world. In the foreground, three of the garden’s 18 Supertrees are seen with the two cooled conservatories in the background. The taller of the cooled conservatories is the 58 metre high Cloud Forest, which replicates the moist cooled environments of the tropical montane regions and features a 35 metre man made mountain along with a 30 metre high waterfall. The longer of the two conservatories is the Flower Dome in which the cool-dry springtime climates of the Mediterranean and semi-arid sub-tropical regions is replicated. The Gardens by the Bay, which is now in its second year (having opened in June 2012), has become one of Singapore’s most visited tourist attractions.

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Fields of gold and more

22 04 2014

The Gardens by the Bay’s tulips are right at this moment, in full bloom and there will be just a few days to catch them before the next round of replanting commences. The tulips, at the Flower Dome, have been brought for Tulipmania and will colour the Flower Field until 4 May 2014. There was a little more excitement at this year’s Tulipmania – with appearances made by Miffy, the very popular Dutch children’s book character, who has been brought in by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Miffy was also around to witness an Easter egg hunt that was organised by KLM, on Sunday – a day that saw huge crowds descend on the Flower Dome and some lucky children walking away with much sought after Miffy merchandise. More information on Tulipmania including on a photo competition the Gardens by the Bay is running together with Canon Singapore can be found on a previous post: Colours of April: Going Dutch at the Gardens.

Photographs from Tulipmania 2014

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Colours of April: Going Dutch at the Gardens

14 04 2014

The Gardens by the Bay’s Flower Dome will take a distinctly Dutch flavour from today as the flower field takes on the colours of springtime Keukenhof as Tulipmania returns. From 14 April to 4 May 2014, will be treated to tulip fields, decorated with replica windmills and canal houses in a setting inspired by Madurodam that is intended to resemble the canals of Amsterdam.

The Flower Dome goes Dutch with KLM and Miffy from today.

The Flower Dome goes Dutch with KLM and Miffy from today.

Tulipmania returns.

Tulipmania returns.

Some 50,000 tulip (and hyacinth) bulbs of many varieties and colours have been brought in by the Gardens by the Bay from the Netherlands for Tulipmania this year, and visitors will get an opportunity to also see the popular Dutch children’s book character Miffy, who has been brought in by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – one event that will see Miffy appear will be an Easter Egg Hunt that will be held on Easter, 20 April 2014.

A hyacinth bulb.

A hyacinth bulb.

A tulip bulb.

A tulip bulb.

Miffy oversees kids who had lots of fun planting tulip bulbs.

Miffy oversees kids who had lots of fun planting tulip bulbs at the Flower Field.

Miffy did also make an earlier appearance when she was on hand to see to the planting of tulips by volunteers in the lead up to Tulipmania. The volunteers included a group of children who were more than thrilled by the appearance of the not so little “little rabbit”. There was also an opportunity to learn more about tulips – such as that they originated from Central Asia, and that the bulbs, their source of energy, takes four to five years to mature to the level that will provide the energy for the tulips to flower as we are used to seeing them.

Happy tulip planters.

Happy tulip planters.

Tulips at last year's Tulipmania.

Tulips at last year’s Tulipmania.

More information on Tulipmania can be found at the Gardens by the Bay’s Tulipmania event page. Do also note that the Gardens by the Bay is also running a photography competition in partnership with Canon Singapore for Tulipmania – more information on it an be found at: eosworld.canon.com.sg/tulipmania.


Posts on last year’s Tulipmania


 





The Singapore 2015 launch party

17 02 2014

Photographs from the grand party held at the Gardens by the Bay’s Meadow on Saturday to launch Singapore 2015 (the 28th SEA Games and 8th ASEAN Para Games). The event was graced by Guest-of-Honour, President Tony Tan Keng Yam and attended by athletes past and present and saw the unveiling of the games mascot Nila as well official songs for the games performed by various local artistes. The line-up of the artistes included Daphne Khoo, a survivor of a rare form of Ovarian Cancer, who performed ‘Greatest’ and Tabitha Nauser performing ‘Unbreakable’.

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Splashing by the bay

30 11 2013

A sneak peek at the Gardens by the Bay – Far East Organization one hectare Children’s Garden which is scheduled to be open in January 2014. The garden, being set up on a site adjacent to the Cloud Forest will feature river scapes, lush greenery, a special toddler’s play zone, Rainforest tree houses and a water play area and on the evidence of the sneak preview that the young guests of the Gardens by the Bay and Far East Organization got over the weekend, will provide kids a splashing good time.

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A big stink (but a welcome one) hits the Gardens

18 09 2013

The very first successful hybrid of the so-called ‘Corpse Flower’, the Amorphophallus titanum and the Amorphophallus variabilis, the Amorphophallus ‘John Tan’ – being seen for the first time in Singapore, has bloomed and now on display at the Cloud Forest, one of the two cooled conservatories in the Gardens by the Bay.

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The Corpse Flower, which is native to Sumatra and grows at 120 to 365 metres above sea level, is so-named for the foul smell it emits which is similar to the smell of decaying meat. The hybrid is attributed to Ralph D. Mangelsdorff who was successful in crossing the seed parent plant of the Amorphophallus variabilis, which grows at 700 to 900 metres above sea level in Indonesia and the Philippines, with the pollen parent plant of the Amorphophallus titanum. The flower of the Amorphophallus variabilis produces a durian-like smell to attract pollinators.

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The Amorphophallus ‘John Tan’ on display, the blooming of which is unpredictable, stands at 205 cm and is named after a Singaporean, John Tan Jiew Hoe, for his support of the Amorphophallus hybridisation programme. The 5.9 kg tuber was donated by John Tan to the Gardens by the Bay on 27 August 2013. The bloom is expected to last for only two days and for the very rare opportunity to view it, the Gardens by the Bay is offering 15% discount off standard rate single conservatory tickets on 18 and 19 September 2013. The conservatory is opened from 9 am to 11 pm on both days (I did not quite get a smell – but I was told it is stronger in the evenings).

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The glow in the park

16 09 2013

The Mid-Autumn festival is one which always provides a burst of colour to light the evening up. The glow from a burst of colour which is definitely worth being bathed in is the sea of lights found at one of Singapore’s latest and most popular attractions, the Gardens by the Bay which plays host to a magical display of light and colour in the form of hand-crafted lanterns from 13 to 22 September at Mid-Autumn Festival @ The Gardens 2013.

Being bathed by the glow in the park.

Being bathed by the glow in the park.

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The display in the outdoor gardens and The Meadow is free and is arranged around several themes which include Jurassic Park, the World of Fairy Tales and zodiac signs. During Mid-Autumn Festival @ The Gardens 2013, which is organised by Chinese Newspapers Division of Singapore Press Holdings, People’s Association and Gardens by the Bay also sees various fringe activities such as stage performances, competitions and exhibitions.

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There is food glorious food to also look out for at Asian Food Street at The Meadow with delicacies from China, Taiwan and Singapore on offer, including those brought in by the China Hainan Provincial Committee. The committee will be at the event to showcase the Hainan region’s specialties which also include dance and music performances and the sale of handicrafts. The performances can be caught from 6 to 11 pm on Monday to Friday; and 3 to 11 pm on Saturday and Sunday during the event period. There will also be fundraising activities held, the proceeds of which will go to President’s Challenge 2013. The fund raising activities include the release of water and sky lanterns and a one-day Family Fun Walk.

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Release of water 'Loi Krathong' lanterns.

Release of water ‘Loi Krathong’ lanterns.

Another highlight to look forward to is the new Mid-Autumn themed floral display in the Flower Dome. This see three dragonfly lanterns perched over a field coloured by “lantern flowers” such as Begonias and autumn-blooms like Chrysanthemums, Astilbes and Celosias.

A dragonfly lantern in the Flower Field of the Flower Dome.

A dragonfly lantern in the Flower Field of the Flower Dome.

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For Mid-Autumn Festival @ The Gardens 2013 there will be an extension of operating hours as well as a 15% discount on admission tickets to the conservatories. The discounts are applicable on the prevailing Standard and Local Resident admission rates only and applies only to tickets purchased at on-site Ticketing Counters. Discounts are limited to 4 tickets purchased during each transaction and does not include OCBC Skyway and Garden Cruiser. The extension of opening hours applies to the two conservatories and OCBC Skyway which will be opened from 9 am to 11 pm (last ticket sale 10 pm / last admission 10.30pm) from 13 to 22 September with the operating hours for selected F&B outlets in the Gardens also extended.

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A Snap & Win! Instagram photo contest will be held in conjunction with the event with 3 winners walking away with Gardens by the Bay memorabilia gift packages worth $50. To participate, visitors can upload photos of the Mid-Autumn celebrations at Gardens by the Bay on their Instagram account with the hashtags #midautumnatgb and #gardensbythebay.

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For me, one of the highlights is an installation put up by Keppel Club at the Supertree Grove – the 3D Pandora Exhibitions which requires 3D glasses to be worn. This is opened from 6 to 11 pm on Monday to Friday and 3 to 11 pm on Saturday and Sunday and involves props made out of recycled materials. More information on this and the whole big glow in the park can be found at the Gardens by the Bay’s website.

Look Ma, I have three toes!

Look Ma, I have three toes!

Through the #D Pandora Exhibition.

Through the 3D Pandora Exhibition.

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The Gardens by the Bay turns one

30 06 2013

The Gardens by the Bay turned one yesterday. To celebrate the anniversary, a huge party, the Gardens Party One, was thrown, with the thousands of visitors and guests who attended, treated to a live concert in the cool evening breeze whilst having a picnic under the stars at The Meadow. The party was organised by the Gardens by the Bay as well as the West Coast GRC and Pioneer Constituency CCCs and was hosted by Minister for National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan with the Guest-of-Honour, Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Lim Hng Kiang also attending.

Visitors to the Gardens by the Bay and guests to the Gardens Party One were treated to a concert under the stars.

Visitors to the Gardens by the Bay and guests to the Gardens Party One were treated to a concert under the stars.

The early birds at the Gardens One Party.

The early birds at the Gardens One Party.

Besides the first birthday, the Gardens by the Bay had another reason to celebrate. It recently saw its fifth millionth visitor, Singapore student, Harlynna Bte Rahmat who received a gift from Minister Khaw at the party. The concert saw the likes of Li Feihui, Jack & Rai, and the contestants of “The Final 1″ on stage as well as two huge local favourites, Taufik Batisah who showed some rather cool dance moves as well as Kit Chan, who ended the concert very aptly with a beautiful rendition of the very popular “Home” to which the crowd sang along – a great way to bring a wonderful first birthday party to a close.

The crowd on the lawn at The Meadow.

The crowd on the lawn at The Meadow.

Minister Lim Hng Kiang greeting those who attended.

Minister Lim Hng Kiang greeting those who attended.

Guests were treated to a host of fringe activities ...

Guests were treated to a host of fringe activities …

... including learning to juggle.

… including learning to juggle.

Jack and Rai on stage.

Jack and Rai on stage.

Li Feihui.

Li Feihui.

Peering through a crystal ball.

Peering through a crystal ball.

A "The Final 1" contestant.

A “The Final 1″ contestant.

Blowing out the symbolic candle.

Blowing out the symbolic candle.

Taufik show off some of his dance moves.

Taufik show off some of his dance moves.

Another of Taufik.

Another of Taufik.

Kit Chan on stage.

Kit Chan on stage.

Another of Kit Chan.

Another of Kit Chan.





I (certainly) Don’t Want to Miss a Thing

27 05 2013

What is probably one of the biggest rock acts to perform in Singapore is Aerosmith, the legendary rock band said to be “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”, took to the stage on Saturday in the second of two Singapore Social Concerts. The concerts held as part of the inaugural Social Star Awards, the first of which featured social media stars such as Psy, Carly Rae Jepsen, CeeLo Green and Blush, took place at what is proving to be a wonderful outdoor concert venue, The Meadow at the Gardens by the Bay.

The tireless Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.

The tireless Steven Tyler of Aerosmith on stage at The Meadow.

The Aerosmith concert was without a doubt the highlight of what was a great week to be a music fan in Singapore, following hot on the heels of the annual Indie music mayhem, Music Matters Live, held earlier in the week. Watching “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” must could as an huge experience for anyone, fan or not. It is live on stage where the rock band’s lead, Steven Tyler, find himself in his element. Now sixty-five years of age, the energy levels he exhibited on stage all through the performance, must have been equal to that of a hyperactive child six decades his junior. Armed with his his trademark microphone stand, – streamers and all, he left even those who weren’t moving as vigourously as some of the more youthful members of the crowd I found myself squeezed  in next to, breathless.

Steven Tyler exhibited the energy levels of a hyperactive six year old.

Steven Tyler exhibited the energy levels of a hyperactive five year old.

It was in all a mesmerising performance, which made the long wait for the group to appear on stage, well worth the while. Scheduled to start at 8 pm, things only got moving at 8.20 pm with the opening act, Euphoria Audio. The rock band from Wakefield in the UK did a wonderful job of getting the crowd in the mood with some wonderful numbers of their own. Led by Matt Shirty, with Ben Lloyd and Ben Hughes on guitar and Josh Hughes on drums,  the band entertained for some 40 minutes.

Opening act Euphoria Audio on stage.

Opening act Euphoria Audio on stage.

Matt Shirty.

Matt Shirty.

It was another 40 minutes after the initial Euphoria have left the stage before the so-called Bad Boys from Boston, made their entry with Steven Tyler, appearing at the end of catwalk-like to the stage which placed him right into the heart of the crowd. Dressed in a hat, red glasses and a sequin studded jacket (which he later threw into the screaming crowd) with scarves draped over it, he would not have looked out of place in a theatre act, wielding the microphone stand with the words “lick me” at the bottom of its base almost as if it was a part of him.

Aerosmith finally came on at around 9.40pm.

Aerosmith finally came on at around 9.40pm.

Steven Tyler.

Steven Tyler.

Joe Perry on guitars - was almost as energetic as Tyler.

Joe Perry on guitars – was almost as energetic as Tyler.

Joey Kramer on drums.

Joey Kramer on drums.

Brad Whitford on guitar.

Brad Whitford on guitar.

Tom Hamilton on guitar.

Tom Hamilton on guitar.

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The band which goes back more than four decades, does on the evidence of the crowd, have a following here spanning the generations. At what probably was the highlight of the concert, the delivery of their greatest hit, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from the 1998 movie Armageddon, a large portion of the 10,500 strong crowd – many who looked like they were in their teens (or just out of it), moving with the music and singing along at the top of their voices.

Joe Perry on guitar behind his back.

Joe Perry on guitar getting to work behind his back.

While it might have been the flamboyant Tyler who stole the show the rest of the band wouldn’t have gone unnoticed. Joe Perry gave a masterclass, particularly in going back to basics revisiting the Blues. There was also two guest appearances with Japanese beatboxer Hikakin and hip-hop dancer Marquese Scott making an appearance late on during a rendition of “Walk This Way”. It seemed like it only just started when Aerosmith’s first full concert, which did go on for an hour and fifty minutes, did as all good things have to – come to an end with a grand piano wheeled down the stage for the encore of “Dream On” which was followed by “Sweet Emotion”. When the end did come, many in the crowd, myself included certainly would have loved to dream the concert on. And if they do come to town ever again, borrowing from the title of their biggest hit,  I (most certainly) Don’t Want to Miss a Thing!

More of Joe Perry.

More of Joe Perry. 

Japanese Beatboxer Hikakin with Joe Perry.

Japanese Beatboxer Hikakin with Joe Perry.

Steven Tyler waving to the crowd.

Steven Tyler waving to the crowd.

The many faces of the flamboyant Steven Tyler during Saturday’s concert:

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Tulip fever hits Singapore

2 05 2013

On the evidence of the crowds that turned up for Tulipmaniaat the Flower Dome of the Gardens by the Bay on May Day, Singapore’s largest display of tulips which was in full bloom, is certainly a huge hit with Singaporeans. The three week long event which kicked off on Monday, sees some 40,000 tulip bulbs flown in from the Netherlands by official sponsors KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. More information is available on a previous post: Tiptoe through the tulips at the Flower Dome.

Photographs of Tulipmania taken on May Day:

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Tiptoe through the tulips at the Flower Dome

29 04 2013

While you can’t quite tiptoe through the tulips there is a good chance you can imagine yourself doing it right here in Singapore. For what could be the first time in Singapore at the Gardens by the Bay’s Flower Dome, a mini field of tulips will be in full bloom – from today, 29 April 2013 right up to 20 May 2013, the Flower Field will see a colourful sea of tulips. Some 20,000 tulip bulbs which were planted on last Tuesday by 100 volunteers have already started to bloom and are expected to be in full bloom this week.

It won't be hard to imagine tiptoeing through the tulips at the Gardens by the Bay's Flower Dome this May.

It won’t be hard to imagine tiptoeing through the tulips at the Gardens by the Bay’s Flower Dome this May.

Yellow tulips in the Flower Field are already in bloom.

Yellow tulips in the Flower Field are already in bloom.

Some of the other coloured tulips such as the pink ones are expected to bloom from Monday.

Some of the other coloured tulips such as the pink ones are expected to bloom from Monday.

Visitors to the Flower Dome admiring the tulip field which has started to bloom.

Visitors to the Flower Dome admiring the tulip field which has started to bloom.

The 20,000 bulbs in the Flower Field are part of a total 40,000 which were flown in from the Netherlands by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the official sponsor for Tulipmania. The three week event, will not just see the field of red, pink, yellow, white and purple tulips, but also other colourful spring flowers such as  lilies, hyacinths, daffodils and muscari. To complement the display of tulips and the Dutch theme, five miniature windmills and giant wooden clogs placed both inside and outside the cooled conservatory. Further information on Tulipmania is available at the Gardens by the Bay’s Tulipmania page.

Purple tulips in bloom.

Purple tulips in bloom – some 40,000 bulbs were flown in courtesy of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – the official sponsor.

Visitors can pose for a photograph in front of the Flower Field wearing giant wooden clogs.

Visitors can pose for a photograph in front of the Flower Field wearing giant wooden clogs.

More wooden clogs.

More wooden clogs.

A miniature windmill.

A miniature windmill.

Red and white tulips.

Red and white tulips.

There is a chance to smell the roses too.

There is a chance to smell the roses too.

In addition to the tulips there are also other spring blooms.

In addition to the tulips there are also other spring blooms.

Other spring blooms include daffodils.

Other spring blooms include daffodils.

White tulips in the Flower Dome.

White tulips in the Flower Dome.

Pink tulips.

Pink tulips.

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During Tulipmania, visitors can also look forward to activities that will appeal to the young and old. These include the opportunity to learn more about tulips through an Acivity Sheet; create handmade tulip clips; taste Dutch cheeses; create tulip postcards which can be mailed to friends; and celebrate Mother’s Day. Promotions during Tulipmania include discounted admission (15% discount) into the cooled conservatories during Mother’s Day weekend (10-12 May), and  a chance to win a pair of tickets to Keukenhof, Holland, in 2014.

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A look into a tulip (photograph taken with LG Optimus G).

A look into a tulip (photograph taken with LG Optimus G).





The making of Marina Bay

8 11 2012

The decades that followed Singapore’s somewhat reluctant independence from Malaysia were ones of enormous growth and development which has led to an amazing transformation of a city state, with a burgeoning population, the threat of unemployment and facing much uncertainty into the modern city that it is today. One place where that transformation is very apparent is in and around the city centre, particularly in the Marina Bay area which has seen it morph from the old harbour on which Singapore’s wealth was built into the city of the future built around what has become Singapore’s 15th fresh water reservoir that it is today.

The dawn of a new Singapore at Marina Bay.

View of Clifford Pier, the Inner Roads and the Breakwater in the 1950s from an old postcard (courtesy of Mr. Low Kam Hoong).

Map of Singapore Harbour in the 1950s showing the Detached Mole, Inner Roads and Outer Roads.

The transformation that took place was a story that began in the years that followed independence. Singapore embarked on the State and City Planning Project (SCP) in 1967, assisted by the United Nations under the UN Development Programme’s special assistance scheme for urban renewal and development for emerging nations. The SCP which was completed in 1971, Singapore’s first Concept Plan, identified the need to build an adequate road transportation network. This included a coastal highway to divert traffic that would otherwise have to go through the city. For this land was to be reclaimed, with the construction of what is today Benjamin Sheares Bridge providing a vital link. Initial thoughts were that a green belt could be created on the reclaimed land with space created providing for a future expansion of the city. What did become of the plan and further developments over the years was to give us not just the highway which is the East Coast Parkway (ECP), but in addition to that a city of the future, a city in a garden, and certainly what is a truly amazing new part of Singapore we celebrate today.

Singapore’s City in a Garden concept is very much evident in the transformation of Marina Bay.

The last decade has seen the many developments which were the result of decades of planning take shape around Marina Bay.

You can find out more about this transformation and how it took place by participating in a guided walk this weekend or the next, ‘The Making of Marina Bay‘ which be conducted by Zinkie Aw, held as part of a month long ‘Loving Marina Bay‘ event organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). Details of the walk (and also one more that I will be conducting on 25 Nov 2012 entitled ‘A Walk Around the Old Harbour’) can be found at The Loving Marina Bay site. To sign up for the walks, do visit the Eventbrite signup page. The month long event will also feature a street museum exhibition at Clifford Square (in between Clifford Pier and One Fullerton) in which photographs of the old have been superimposed on the new to provide an appreciation of the changes around the bay through which you can also discover where places such as the Satay Club once were.

A ‘Street Museum’ panel at Clifford Square.

Discover where places such as the Satay Club were through the street museum.


About Loving Marina Bay

See the story of Marina Bay through our AmBAYssadors

Located at the heart of Singapore’s city centre, Marina Bay is the centrepiece of Singapore set to be a thriving 24/7 destination with endless exciting events and a necklace of attractions where people from all walks of life come together to live, work and play.

This photography exhibition showcases the different facets of the Marina Bay precinct through over 100 enthralling photos taken by 20 of our beloved AmBAYssadors made up of Singapore’s popular bloggers and photographers.

Heritage is very much part of the precinct’s foundation, captured in key historical landmarks such as Merlion Park and Collyer Quay.

An interesting Street Museum section chronicles Marina Bay’s story over its first few decades since the 1960s, telling a story of strategic, far-sighted and meticulous planning and committed engagement to reach its present state through archive photos superimposed on its modern-day context.

Join us during the month-long event where every weekend is full of exciting activities such as heritage walks and photography workshops led by our very own AmBAYssadors. We want you to be part of Loving Marina Bay too – submit a photo taken at Marina Bay anywhere, anytime to win prizes; or simply pen a Love Note to your family/friends, drop it into the red pillar post boxes at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and we will send it anywhere in the world for you! Visit www.marina-bay.sg/lovingmb for more details.






An invasion of pumpkins

3 10 2012

Step into the Flower Dome, one of the two cooled conservatories at the Gardens by the Bay, this October and November and what will greet you is the surprise of the orange glow of 1,500 pumpkins, on show as part of the Autumn Harvest seasonal display at the Flower Field. The 850 square metre Flower Field, the centrepiece of the Flower Dome, has as part of the Autumn Harvest display, been decorated with some 18,000 blooms – Sunflowers, Marigolds, Lavenders, Heucheras, Calla Lilies, Tomatoes, Kales and Chrysanthemums, which mixed with scarecrows, wheelbarrows, hay, hay rabbits, a cornucopia, and different coloured ears of corn, gives that sense of the time of harvest that is associated with the warm glow of autumn.

Some 1,500 pumpkins will colour the Flower Field orange.

The Flower Field will be decorated with scarecrows and wooden wheelbarrows to give a sense of the harvest season in the warm glow of autumn.

They are sunflowers ….

and some 18,000 blooms as part of the Autumn Harvest display on the Flower Field.

The pumpkins, a fruit which ripens in the autumn, are at the heart of the display. A total of 10 varieties including green marbled and white miniature pumpkins with a combined weight of 1 tonne have been flown in from Oregon, USA, specially for the display. Amongst the 1500 pumpkins and exotically shaped gourds, there is one that will certainly catch the eye – a giant pumpkin, the diameter of which I have been told is about 1 metre!

The giant pumpkin.

A rabbit made of hay.

Autumn Harvest will be on display from now up until the end of November and is part of the changing display on the Flower Field that reflects different seasons and festivals through the year. More information on the Gardens by the Bay, opening times and admission charges to the conservatories can be found at the website.

Varieties of corn and a cornucopia – the horn of plenty also decorate the Flower Field.

Autumn Harvest provides a wonderful backdrop for photos.


Other recent views around the Gardens by the Bay

The 30 metre high waterfall off the Cloud Mountain in the second cooled conservatory – the Cloud Forest.

The Supertree Grove at sunset.

The OCBC Skywalk at the Supertree Grove.





The royal couple visits the new world

12 09 2012

Photographs from the visit of the royal couple, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton to the Gardens by the Bay this morning. Many Singaporeans and members of the British community braved the blazing sun for a chance to catch a glimpse the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on a 3 day visit to Singapore, hoping for a chance to say hello – and most were not disappointed, as Prince William and Kate Middleton who looked ever so lovely in a white Alexander McQueen dress, stopped to shake the hands or greet many in the crowd.

The flags were out early on in anticipation of the visit of the royal couple to the Gardens by the Bay.

Schoolchildren arriving to greet the royal couple.

A girl sits on a lawn under the shade of an umbrella.

A flag flapping in the breeze.

A boy in the crowd.

Union Jacks strung on a barrier.

Faces in the crowd.

Some found a better vantage point as the royal couple approached.

Press photographers spring into action.

First glimpse of Prince William.

Happy faces as the Prince shakes hands with many in the crowd.

A section of the crowd at the Gardens by the Bay.

The Duchess of Cambridge saying hello to a baby.

The couple leaving the garden.





Kids at the Conservatories

4 09 2012

With the September school holidays upon us in Singapore, the Gardens by the Bay which has not seen any let up in the flow of visitors since it opened at the end of June, has been running what is the first of their school holiday programmes which they hope to extend to the future school holidays as well. The programmes, named “Kids at the Conservatories“, is a series of specially curated guided tours aimed at children between the ages of 4 to 9 and each includes a tour of the two conservatories with an interactive activity at the end of each which reinforces the key lessons learnt during the tour.

A school holiday kids programme in the clouds! The Gardens by the Bay’s school holiday Education and Outreach Programme has kids on the Cloud Walk learning more about plants and their usefulness.

I was able to follow one of the activities, Talented Plants, designed for children of ages 4 – 6. While at the initial introduction, many of the young participants seemed reluctant to part with their parents, most had warmed up by the time the guided walk took them into the cool conservatories, starting with the Australian Garden in the Flower Dome and participated in answering questions that the guide, who introduced herself as ‘Teacher’ Grace, posed along stops where she introduced plants and their usefulness to other living things around them.


‘Teacher’ Grace introducing water holding bromeliads in which tree frogs lay their eggs at the Cloud Forest.

The walk also took the kids (and their parents) through the Cloud Forest, where one of the things I did learn was that tree frogs lay their eggs in water holding plants known as bromeliads. The walk which took a little over an hour ended with an activity during which the participants were able to participate in a craft activity using recycled materials – used plastic bottles and newspapers – which were transformed into a ‘bottle tree’ which they were introduced to during the visit to the Flower Dome – which judging by the smiles on the faces of the kids at the end of it, was very well received. The tours, more information about which can be found at the Gardens by the Bay’s website (click here), are unfortunately all fully booked for this holidays, but do look out for more at the next school holidays.

Grace and the participants in the Cloud Forest.

The participants at the source of the waterfall.

The interactive activity at the end of the programme which saw the kids turn recycled materials into a bottle tree which they could each take home.

Real plants were used.

A proud owner of a ‘bottle tree’.





A garden in bloom

10 07 2012

In Pictures: The Bay South Garden which opened on 29 June 2012 and its two cooled conservatories in full bloom.

A place for community activities … both those that are organised …

… and those that are not …

Ticket queues for entry into the cooled conservatories … the two conservatories which offer a peek into botanical worlds that are out of reach for many are proving to be a hit with visitors to the Bay South Garden.

Cacti in the Flower Dome which replicates the cool dry climate found in areas such as the Mediterranean and Semi-Arid sub-tropical regions around the world.

Ghost Trees from Madagascar.

A thousand year old olive tree.

The Baobabs section of the Flower Dome.

The Flower Dome also features a changing floral display in the Flower Field.

The Cloud Forest replicates the Cool Moist climate of the Tropical Montane regions.

Pitcher plants are abundant in the Cloud Forest.

As are some rather unusual orchids.


All photographs in this post have been taken using a Sony α57 (SLT-A57) DSLR camera.


More information:






The enchanted garden

5 07 2012

The opening weekend of Bay South Garden of the Gardens by the Bay saw crowds turning up in droves to have a look at the latest attraction – one of several developments that adds to the futuristic looking part of the city that is fast coming up on land that once had been the sea. The opening day – a Friday, had attracted as many as 30,000 visitors to the garden, 15,000 of which came for the first of two open air concerts held at the garden’s The Meadow – a sellout featuring Jason Mraz. The concert was part of a host of activities held to celebrate the garden’s opening. I managed to attend the second concert, a one-and-a-half hour performance in which Singapore born singer – the very talented Corrinne May, impressed the 5,000 audience with a soulful repertoire of songs which she had herself written. Both concerts were very well received and the garden is set to become the location, much as New York’s Central Park is, for open-air concerts in Singapore.

The enchanted garden – the Bay South Garden by night.

Concert goers at the Corrinne May concert on 30th June.

The Meadow seen during a free screening of an open air movie during the opening weekend.

After the madness that accompanied the opening weekend, I was glad to able to find the time to take a walk through part of the 54 hectare garden without the distraction of the crowd on a weekday evening. Free from the distraction of the weekend crowds, I was able to see how, as day turned into night, the garden being transformed into a world like none other – a world bathed in a magical glow of the illuminations of its rather curious but strangely captivating man-made structures. The visual highlight of the garden by night must certainly be the garden’s Supertrees of which there are three clusters which seem to sprout around the two cooled conservatories. The Supertrees, of which there are 18 in total, are really vertical gardens that are planted on steel structures arranged around a concrete core that ranges from 25 to 50 metres in height. The vertical displays of plants are primarily of tropical flowering climbers, epiphytes and ferns. The largest cluster, the Supertree Grove, is made up of 12 Supretrees. The other two clusters are each of three Supertrees in the Golden Garden (near the Arrival Square) and in the Silver Garden (near the Dragonfly Lake).

The Supertree Grove – a cluster of 18 Supertrees including one that is 50 metres high and two 42 metres high ones – one of which is dominates this scene.

Two other clusters of three Supertrees can be found at the Silver Garden (seen here) near the Dragonfly Lake and the Golden Garden near the Arrival Square.

The moon rises over a Supertree in the Golden Garden.

The Supertree Grove is the cluster that will certainly draw the most interest, not just because it is the largest cluster and also where the largest Supertrees are found – the 50 metre tall one which will house a treetop bistro and two 42 metre tall ones between which a curved 128 metre long aerial walkway, the OCBC Skyway, is suspended. The OCBC Skyway, 22 metres above ground, offers not only an amazing view of the garden, but also a view that extends east towards the Marina Barrage and west where the Marina Bay Sands Complex stands.

The OCBC Skyway at dusk.

The Supertree Grove also plays host to a 15 minute long audio-visual spectacle – the OCBC Light and Sound Show (which opened on 2nd July 2012). The show will come on twice every night at 7.45 pm and 8.45 pm and is something that certainly should not be missed.

The Supertrees during the OCBC Light and Sound Show …

Supertrees in the Supertree Grove and the OCBC Skyway against the backdrop of Marina Bay Sands.

Another part of the gardens that I found to be quite a wonder at night is inside one of the two cooled conservatories – the Cloud Forest. Whether by day or by night, the entrance into the Cloud Forest is one which would be greeted by a spectacular sight – that of a 30 metre high waterfall that falls from Cloud Mountain. It is however at night that the waterfall bathed in the purple-blue of its illumination takes on a magical appearance. The conservatory takes on a warmer and a more welcoming appearance by night and it is for this, the conservatories magical waterfall, and the glow of the Supertrees that makes what seems almost like an enchanted garden, very much worth a visit after night has fallen.

The 30 metre high waterfall that greets the visitor is bathed in an enchanting purple-blue glow at night.

The cantilevered Cloud Walk seen from ground level.

A view of the Treetop Walk, seen from the Cloud Walk at night.

The Cloud Walk and the Treetop Walk below.

The Cloud Walk, with Cloud Mountain and The Cavern, seen from the Treetop Walk.

Another view of the side of Cloud Mountain from the Treetop Walk.

View from the Secret Garden by night.


All photographs accompanying this post have been taken using a Sony α57 (SLT-A57) DSLR camera.


More information:






No wild boars here but definitely a ‘wow’

29 06 2012

Singapore wakes up today to a new wonder, the latest in a series of projects which sees a brand new world being built on land that was once the sea, as the Bay South Garden of the Gardens by the Bay opens to the public. The highly anticipated Bay South Garden was officially opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last evening at a ceremony held in one of the two cooled conservatories at the garden, the Flower Dome, which was attended by some 700 guests. Mr Lee in his speech touched on the ‘wow’ factor of the garden, remarking how he had looked up at 30 metre high waterfall in the Cloud Forest (the second cooled conservatory) and exclaimed ‘wow’, and being informed that was what one ‘was expected to say’.

The 30 metre high waterfall on the Cloud Mountain that had PM Lee exclaiming ‘wow’.

Mr Lee also spoke of the value of creating a green space as a motivating factor in the decision to devote what would essentially be prime real estate, giving Singaporeans not just a green lung, but also as a green oasis in the city where Singaporeans can enjoy and identify with much as New York’s Central Park is to New Yorkers. Mr Lee in touching on the desire to bring flora and fauna made mention of bringing plants, flowers, butterflies and ‘once in a while, a few wild boars’. A tongue-in-cheek reference to the recent debate on the wild boar population and the need to cull it.

PM Lee Hsien Loong speaking about being wowed and about wild boars.

One of two cooled conservatories – the 58 metre high Cloud Forest which replicates the cool-moist climate typically found in Tropical Montane regions between 1,000 to 3,500 metres above sea level.

Guests for the official opening visiting the Cloud Forest.

Although there were no wild boars in sight, I had a chance to say ‘wow’ by taking my own walk inside the completed Cloud Forest. I had once previously seen it during a media preview I had the privilege to attend in early April. Then, the man-made Cloud Mountain which dominates the interior of the conservatory, wore the green not of plants attached to its side, but the green of the netting that was laid around its sides mixed with the dull grey of the scaffolding that was put up all around it. It was a very different view that I got this time around. The 35 metre Cloud Mountain, on its 35 metres takes a visitor up some 1000 to 3500 metres above sea level to a replicated environment of high altitude tropical zones, was not just a lot greener, it was also shrouded in mist and certainly gave mean impression of an ascent into the clouds.

The mist shrouded Cloud Mountain. There are two walkways at its side, a 122 metre long Cloud Walk (above) and a 130 metre long Treetop Walk (below).

Guests for the official opening walking along the Cloud Walk.

The waterfall isn’t the only wow about the Cloud Forest. Ascending into the clouds – with the help of the modern convenience of an elevator, gives the visitor a whole new set of experiences that go beyond the display of fauna some of would not otherwise have been seen in Singapore. The ascent takes the visitor to the top of the ‘mountain’ to the Lost World featuring cloud forest vegetation typically found at around 2,000 metres above sea-level where the ‘source’ of the waterfall is and down a 122 metre cantilevered walkway, the Cloud Walk from which the visitor takes in a spectacular view in descending through the mist covered exterior of the Cloud Mountain which also offers the visitor a glimpse of the epiphytic plant species on the side of the ‘mountain’ – another big ‘wow’. It is this ‘wow’, as well as for the other cooled conservatory – the Flower Dome which features some curious looking trees, including one commonly referred to as a Monkey Puzzle Tree, as well as twisted and bent 1000 year old olive trees, that makes the garden well worth a visit. More information is available on my previous posts on the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome.

The Lost World at the top of Cloud Mountain is where the waterfall falls from.

The Lost World at the top of the Cloud Mountain.

The waterfall.

Flowers found in the Lost World.

A plant in the Lost World.

The mist shrouded view from the Cloud Walk down to the Treetop Walk.

Part of the Cloud Walk seen above the mist.

Another view of the Cloud Walk.

The external walkway offers a chance to get up close to the epiphytic plant species on the side of the ‘mountain’.

Besides the cooled conservatories, the 54 hectare site which is designed by UK-based landscape architecture firm Grant Associates also features vertical gardens taking the form of 18 Supertrees in the Golden Garden, Silver Garden and Supertree Grove; the Heritage Gardens; The World of Plants; the Dragonfly and Kingfisher Lakes. The Supertree Grove features a suspended aerial walkway, the OCBC Skyway and the OCBC Light and Sound Show (making its debut on 2 July 2012). Bay South is also the largest of the three gardens which form the larger Gardens by the Bay. When completed, the Gardens by the Bay will occupy a total of 101 hectares of land by the water around Marina Bay and will include the 32 hectare Bay East Garden which will be linked to the Bay South Garden by Bay Central which will feature a 3 km promenade that offers stunning views of the city.

The Cavern.

The Treetop Walk seen through an opening in The Cavern.

Light streaming into The Cavern.

Another view of the Cloud Walk and the Treetop Walk.

Through the waterfall.

The opening of the Bay South Garden is expected to draw large crowds to it, especially with the host of exciting events lined up to coincide with its opening. The opening weekend (29 June to 1 July 2012) will see a series of events that is collectively named as Rhythm with Nature. More information on the events can be found at the Gardens by the Bay’s website. While entry into the garden is free, there is an entry fee to visit the two cooled conservatories and the OCBC Skyway – a 128 metre long aerial walkway suspended 22 metres above the ground at the Supertree Grove. Information on admission charges is available at the Gardens by the Bay’s website.

Opening Scenes

Guests gathered in the Flower Dome for the official opening.

There was food too!

Dr Kiat W Tan, CEO of Gardens by the Bay.

Host for the evening, the very lovely Glenda Chong.

More information:





Where wonder blooms

28 06 2012

The huge and spectacular project being undertaken by the National Parks Board (NParks) that hasn’t gone unnoticed in the Marina Bay area, part of an effort to transform Singapore into a ‘City in a Garden’, reaches a major milestone this evening when the 54 hectare Bay South Garden is officially opened. The Bay South Garden which will open to the public from tomorrow (29 June 2012) is designed by a UK-based landscape architecture firm, Grant Associates, will feature themed gardens, somewhat futuristic looking Supertrees and offer visitors a chance to experience the cool-dry springtime climate of the Mediterranean and semi-arid sub-tropical regions and an ascent into the cool-moist climate of the Tropical Montane regions in two cooled glass conservatories, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. Besides the two conservatories for which admission charges apply, another highlight would a 128 metre aerial walkway suspended 22 metres above the ground – the OCBC Skyway (admission charges also apply) which offers a spectacular view of the gardens, at the Supertree Grove. The Supertree Grove will also feature the “OCBC Light and Sound Show” which makes it debut on 2 July 2012.

The Supertree Grove and the OCBC Skyway at dusk (this is one of two photographs of mine that were selected for display at the “Where Wonder Blooms” photo exhibition).

A series of events has been lined up for the opening of the gardens to the public from the 29th of June, which will include several which will span over the opening weekend (29 June to 1 July 2012) that is collectively named as Rhythm with Nature. This will feature two open air concerts, the first with Jason Mraz performing (already sold-out) on the 29th and the second on the 30th in which local songbird, Corrinne May, who is back in Singapore after a four-year absence, will perform. More information on the opening events, which will also include a free outdoor screening of a Movie at the Gardens on 30 June during which the movie “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs” will be shown (free admission upon redemption of tickets at Rhythm with Nature info counter at Green Fair – subject to availability and limited to 4 tickets per person), can also be found at the Gardens by the Bay page.

Some previous posts and useful resources:








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