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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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.

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