It's almost three years since I was in Singapore but I was back there for a few days this week. I visited the billion dollar "Gardens by the Bay" which have been open since 2012 on reclaimed land at the seaside.
As a new garden they are still developing both biologically and as an attraction. Most of the outside garden was typical botanical garden and there there will be aisles of trees in the medium future as the palms develop but at the moment they didn't seem very shaded and pretty uninteresting to be honest. The lack of shade is a problem because the native Singapore flora and fauna is tropical rainforest. The damp shade is very noticeable and very enjoyable at the Botanical gardens in the centre of town, at the zoo in the central heights and at the Jurong Birdpark along the coast. Still, two years is not very old for a botanical garden so that can be excused and they will develop given time.
Also they were almost empty of people despite the external gardens being free to walk round.
This absence of people probably also reflects that they are not in a residential area but in a shopping/hotel area. These gardens are so frequented by the locals yet unlike the botanical gardens which are well used. You can the see the massive Marina Bay Sands hotel towering over the garden and the two glasshouses.
So the big attractions inside the garden are the two glasshouse domes - one was amazing, the other not so. And expensive to get in - SGD28 (£14 or around USD22 for the two and visitors have to pay for the two) but then if you spend a billion dollars you might expect to recoup some of the cost.
let start with the Flower dome as seen at the top of the page.- that was not so amazing. It took me maybe fifteen minutes to walk around the lot - it just wasn't very interesting (to me)and not many flowers. Maybe it wasn't so interesting to me, but might be to locals, because it was a cooled conservatory and mainly dedicated to cool dry types of garden such as Austrailian,South Africa, California, Mediterannean and Persian. Above is a quick snap of a wall in the Persian display - definitely botanically influenced don't ya think?
There were a few interesting plants but if I'm in Singapore I want to see tropical, orchids and helliconia and the like. I think the flower domes would be much more exotic to a tropical local than to myself.
A few of the interesting plants were Australian plants like the grass tree Xanthorrhoea glauca (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanthorrhoea_glauca)which is the silver spikey tree seen below and the kangaroo paws seen below that.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo_paw)
Anigozanthos pulcherrimus Hook. (Yellow Kangaroo Paw) This species flowers in late spring through to early summer with golden yellow flowers on stems to 1.2 metres and is found naturally on the sand plains between Perth and Geraldton.
Anigozanthos rufus Labill. (Red Kangaroo Paw.
The species that most took my fancy was Erica verticillata seen above. This was a tall heather with long flowers 1 to 2 centimetres in length. They really stood out against the dark spikey foliage. However it isn't until just now - when I read the Wikipedia page - that I find out that this species is classified as "Extinct in the Wild". It had only ever been found in the Cape Town region of South Africa. This is a plant that has now been released back into the wild!!! And I never knew that this happened - I wish that I had known the story while I was there - the Gardens by the Bay missed a real educational/promotional opportunity there... or maybe they did write that and I never bother to read it - it does happen.
Anyhow this Erica was the highlight of the Flower dome to me but overall not so satisfying a glass house as I expected.
From the Wikipedia article above "It formerly grew only in certain areas of the Cape Flats on the Cape Peninsula of South Africa.
It grew in Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, a fynbos type that is threatened by urban sprawl and fragmentation. It preferred damp sandy soils such as those that were naturally found around Wynberg, Kenilworth and Zeekoevlei.
Although the species became functionally extinct due to agricultural and urban development of its habitat in the early 20th century, cuttings from several plants discovered in the wild in the later 20th century have ensured that the species will continue in cultivation. 1984 saw the introduction of cuttings from two specimen, one in Protea Park, Pretoria and another in Kew. The former were collected by Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden scholar David von Well after he recognized the plant from herbarium sheets photocopied by Kirstenbosch erica horticulturist Deon Kotze. The third infusion came from a plant found by Kirstenbosch foreman Adonis Adonis in a clearing.
This species was introduced back into the wild at Rondevlei, a bird sanctuary and nature reserve in Cape Town.
Various pollinators such as bees and birds such as Southern Double-collared Sunbirds have been observed feeding on the tubular pink flowers on E. verticillata.
E. verticillata comes in three forms: the Kirstenbosch form, the Pretoria form and the Kew form. It prefers seasonally moist sandy soils, but will grow well in average garden conditions provided the soils are acidic. The best time to plant is in autumn or during the winter although they may be planted at other times of the year if regularly watered. It is important to never disturb its roots when weeding. Plants should be well watered after planting and then every two to three days unless good rainfalls occur.