It was an ambitious undertaking. Creating gardens of species not native to the tropics requires gargantuan efforts to design, build and maintain. This is what the conservatories at the gardens by the bay have achieved. Now the gardens here replicates cooler and dryer climates more likely to be found in the Mediterranean or semi arid subtropical regions. So it is cool dried to 23-25°C with humidity maintained between 60-80%, a rather pleasant walk without the high humidity of Singapore!
Admission tickets can be purchased online and know that locals do have a preferential rate. As foreign visitors, you only have one option – the “standard” rate that provides you access to both conservatories.
The flower dome is also the world’s largest column free greenhouse – as you can see in the photos that there are no beams supporting the structure in the centre areas.
The steel structures curve around more like a conch shell, though some liken it to an egg. It spans a size of 2.2 football fields – roughly 1.2 hectares.
When we were here in May of 2015, the theme was Tulipmania. So it is not unexpected to see the flower field was turned into a mini Keukenhof. The floral display is ever changing with themes : eg ‘Lilytopia’ etc.
You might want to look for the thousand year old Olive tree, lovingly resuscitated by the botanists of the National parks. When we were there in March of 2015, it was flowering. Sometime later, it was reported to have been bearing fruit! Imagine that! Olives harvested from Singapore
The Baobabs and succulent garden is said to be home to the largest cacti and succulent collections in Southeast Asia. There are also over 1,000 plants from the deserts of Madagascar, Mexico, Argentina, Kenya, Brazil and more, all set in a western cowboy movie style. If you wanted to see them free, look no further than the Sun pavilion adjacent to the dome (read here).
Veiled in a mist at the entrance from a waterfall ~35m in height, the cloud forest attempts to showcase plants from tropical highlands. You will see pitcher plants (right) to ferns that dwell happily in the uplands of the tropics in the dome.
It is an easy access to the top of the dome – ie to the pinnacle of the “canopy” via the use of lifts. Sure by all means make you way up by foot, but our preference was to stroll downhill… The vantage accorded at this location gives a “bird’s eye” view of the “mountain side” with the creeper vegetation (orchids, ferns etc) that are climbing up gradually.
At the “peak”, stroll along the man-made stream with aquatic species that thrive in the highlands with plenty of water all year round. There are ‘carnivorous’ plants such as pitchers though we wonder if there ever ants or flies that will get trapped in them.
The cloud walk snakes down the “mountain”. When you are at the top, the only way is down. Beautiful view of the bay and the gardens. On a clear and sunny day such as we had, you can look out of the glass panels over to the Marina channel and even to the barrage. The walkway takes a circular and gentle route down to the mid levels of the mountain where a series of limestone stalagmites are exhibited.
Walking amongst the trees on the treetop walkway is another experience. Imagine how the Swiss family Robinson would have seen the world from their treetop home!
Get to the base and there are educational movies and interactive displays to explain the ecosystem of the tropical highlands.
You know it is interesting that the gardens are a test bed for sustainability. Biomass from Singapore’s other parks provide fuel for the dome. There is a biomass furnace that burns these discarded plant material gathered across the island and provide energy to cool the conservatory! This forms the basis for the conservatory to house plants found in found in South-East Asia, Middle- and South America at the 1000-3000m elevation level.
Make sure you spend a good 1½ hours or more here!