Having been in existence for over 150 years, the Singapore Botanic Gardens possesses a beauty that catches the eye of tourists and locals alike. The original botanic garden was established by no other than Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, who himself was co-founder of the London Zoo and was an avid naturalist. However, there weren’t enough funds to sustain the garden, so it deteriorated, and it was eventually closed in 1829.
It would be 30 years later when another botanic garden would be established, which has given rise to the present Singapore Botanic Gardens. Founded by an Agri-Horticultural Society in1859, the new botanic garden was initially envisioned to be a simple ornamental park where the Society would hold its flower shows. After 15 years, the Society turned management of the garden over to the government, who developed it further and incorporated among its missions the role to educate people about plants through botanical and horticultural exhibits. The government hired skilled botanists and horticulturists to look over the garden.
In June 1990, management of the botanic garden was given over to the National Parks Board of Singapore. During this time, it underwent intensive improvements in order to become the city-state’s premiere horticultural and botanic garden. Under the National Parks Board, the botanic garden continues to go through an improvement program. The facilities have been upgraded, and new attractions and amenities have been added. More features will be added regularly to keep the garden abreast with the changing times and the rapidly evolving technology of the twenty-first century.
One of the garden’s best features is the National Orchid Gardens. At present, there are more than 1,000 species and about 2,000 hybrids of orchids in the garden, with more hybrids being added each year. Many of these came from the garden’s orchid breeding programme, which was started way back in 1928. The National Orchid Gardens features the world’s biggest tropical orchids display. The National Orchid Gardens is open every day from 8:30am to 7:00pm. Ticket sales are entertained until 6:00pm only.
Singapore Botanic Gardens, which is open every day from 5:00am to 12:00 midnight, has a number of attractions. One of these is the Heritage Trees walking trail. The trail leads to seven very old trees that have achieved Heritage Tree status. The Singapore government initiated the Heritage Tree Scheme as an effort to conserve the city-state’s old trees. At present, there are 178 identified heritage trees in all of Singapore, and 14 of these are found in the botanic garden. The walking trail can be accessed by foot through Nassim Gate, Tanglin Gate, and Cluny Park Gate or by car through Bukit Timah Core, Botany Centre, Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, Visitor Centre, and Tyersall Avenue.
Other attractions of Singapore Botanic Gardens include three bronze Sculptures – Girl on a Bicycle, Girl on a Swing, and Lady on a Hammock – which were given by the former ambassador to France, Switzerland, Portugal, and Spain Mr. David Marshall; the Swan Lake, which was created in 1866; the Swan Lake Gazebo, a garden shelter built in 2001 and overlooking the Swan Lake; the Ginger Garden, which is home to more than 250 species from Family Zingiberaceae; and the Palm Valley, which displays 115 genera and 220 species of plants from Family Palmaceae.