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.


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Gardens of enchantment

7 07 2012

Fresh from my visit to the ‘Enchanted Garden‘, I found myself visiting what has to be several gardens of enchantment – exquisite garden displays that I got a peek at during a media preview of the fourth edition of what had to be the top garden and flower show in Asia – the biennial Singapore Garden Festival (SGF). The event which opens today at Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre, will be held from 7 to 15 July 2012, bringing together some 39 designers from 19 countries who have produced some exquisite garden and flower designs and displays and is expected to draw some 300,000 visitors over the nine-day period.

Visitors to the 4th edition of the Singapore Garden Festival will get to have a feel of some exquisitely designed gardens of enchantment.

The draw of the exhibition must certainly be the experience on Level 6 where 37 masterpieces, the most since the Festival started in 2006 – 15 Fantasy and Landscape Show Gardens and 15 Floral Windows to the World, and seven Balcony Garden displays are displayed, featuring both local and international garden designers – 80 percent of whom are making their debut appearance.

Some 37 masterpieces are on display on Level 6 including this show garden in the Landscape category – the work of Sarah Eberle of the UK entitled ‘Continental Drift’ which investigates natural habitats and varying landscapes around the world.

The elevator all dressed up in a garden theme – with artificial turf on its floor, was perhaps a sign of what was to come – stepping out it is the land of fairy tales that greets the visitor – the walkway leading to the exhibition has been dressed up with a fairytale castle themed entrance display with 5-metre tall topiary arches, animal-shaped topiaries, pixies and frog soldiers peeking out from colourful flowering plants and simulated castle walls decorated with climbing plants.

Even the elevator is dressed up for the event.

A fairy tale world welcomes the visitor on Level 6.

One of the winning Fantasy show gardens does in fact incorporate a fairy-tale theme – ‘Garden of Tales’ which is the creation of award-winning local designer Damian Tang which was not only a Gold Medal winner but was also named as the Best of Show for the Fantasy Category. It was one of two that I was drawn to – the other being ‘Luminescent Perspective’ by John Cullen … ones that will certainly leave the visitor enchanted. The ‘Garden of Tales’ inspired by children’s love of fairy tales, is one that through the clever use of frames into each of its five areas – scenes each with a fairy-tale to discover, draws one into it – well described in the fact sheet as “tempting us to peek into different realms of magic, mystery and wonder”. The garden features a one-thousand year old olive tree which was specially shipped in from Spain in a refrigerated shipping container – we were told that the roots of the tree were over two metres wide and the tree almost cold not fit into the container.

I was drawn into the ‘Garden of Tales’ through windows into each of the five scenes that depict scenes from popular fairy-tales.

A scene from Alice in Wonderland.

And one from Little Red Riding Hood.

The creator Damian Tang posing for a photograph.

John Cullen’s ‘Luminescent Perspective’ is one that celebrates the ever-changing nature of gardens and features a lighting sequence that every two minutes will take visitors through the changes in light through the day – from dawn to dusk. The garden which picked up the Gold and People’s Choice Award also features a rotating carousel and was my personal favourite – being one that welcomes the visitor in – one in the word of the designer in which children can be children in.

John Cullen’s ‘Luminescent Perspective’.

Another display which has lighting effects – as well as sound and movement, is New Zealand’s Danny Kamo’s and Andy Ellis’ ‘Ruaumoko’. The Fantasy Show Garden is named after the Maori god of earthquakes – Ruaumoko – the unborn son of Rangi (Sky Father) and Papa (Earth Mother) whose movements in his mother’s womb is said in Maori mythology to be felt as earthquakes across the world. It features an earthquake like movement that lasts 40 seconds – the length of the large shock that hit the designers’ home city of Christchurch in February 2011. The garden picked up a Gold Medal for SGF.

An image of Ruaumoko at Danny Kamo’s and Andy Ellis’ fantasy themed garden.

An eye-catching display in the Floral Windows to the World Category is the ‘Floral Kaleidoscope’ designed by Harijanto Setiawan which picked up a Gold Medal as well as being named the Best of Show for the category. I loved kaleidoscopes as a child and seeing the display has certainly rekindled my fascination for kaleidoscopes. The display is a celebration of life and the never end change in nature.

The kaleidoscope (in the window below) makes use of a reflection of an illuminated floral display on the ceiling.

A look into the kaleidoscope.

A new and interesting category at this year’s festival is the Balcony Gardens competition. This will feature displays that are very appropriate for us in Singapore – displays that creatively make use of 3 metre by 3 metre spaces. Out of seven entries, there were two Gold Medal winners – Toh Lee Hua and Veera Sekaran. Toh Lee Hua’s ‘A Breath of the Wind’ – the Best of Show winner, takes city-dwellers’ busy lifestyles and creates a green space in an urban environment that requires minimum upkeep.

Toh Lee Hua’s ‘A Breath of the Wind’ uses neat displays of terrariums which require little maintenance.

Veera Sekaran’s ‘Living Green Balcony’.

On the evidence of what I had a quick glance at, there is a lot more visual treats that’s there to discover and I would, if I could, have spent the entire day walking around the displays on level 6 (there is more to see on level 4 which I have not yet seen) and I would certainly be back for more over the next nine days. Tickets for the show are available at the ticketing kiosks located at level 3 of the Suntec Convention Centre during the show period. Ticket Prices are S$10 (Weekdays – Monday to Friday) and S$14 (Weekends – Saturday and Sunday) for adults and S$5 / S$8 for children, students and senior citizens (children under 0.9 metres in height go in free). Family Tickets (2 Adults and 3 Children) are also available at S$20 (weekdays) and S$38 (weekends).

Gold Medal winner Andrew Seccull’s ‘Mazu’s Garden’ is set on a platform that represents a floating house – with many elements that relate to the sea – a garden for the protector of fisherman in Chinese belief, Mazu, to meditate.

The are a lot more visual treats to discover beyond the winning entries.

Visitors to the show can also participate in the SGF “Colours” photography competition which offers great prizes that include a Sony Nex-F3 camera. Participants can take a photo they feel best depicts the theme “Colours” and submit it through Singapore Garden Festival’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/sggardenfest. The public can then vote for their favourite photo on the Facebook page’s contest tab. A range of prizes are up for grabs for both participants and voters. The Festival is organised by the National Parks Board (NParks) and its key partners, the Agri-food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), the Orchid Society of Southeast Asia (OSSEA), Singapore Gardening Society and Singapore Tourism Board (STB). For more information, please visit the Singapore Garden Festival website or Facebook page.


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






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.


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