A vibrant tropical jungle

Singapore's vibrant tropical jungle


Life & Style
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The Cloud Forest, one of two massive glasshouses in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay (is one of the world’s largest glasshouses) that has no interior supporting columns.

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The Cloud Forest, one of two massive glasshouses in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay (is one of the world’s largest glasshouses) that has no interior supporting columns.

The Cloud Forest, one of two massive glasshouses in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay (is one of the world’s largest glasshouses) that has no interior supporting columns.

If you’re looking for a jump start to an overseas holiday, hop on a plane to Singapore. Arrive in time for dinner, enjoy a good sleep (Singapore is two hours behind us) then after breakfast head for Singapore’s go-to destination, Gardens by the Bay.

Walking into a vibrant, green, leafy, flowery tropical jungle you immediately feel good, and with so much to see, explore, marvel at and discover, you quickly feel even better.

Occupying over 100 hectares of reclaimed land alongside one of the busiest, edgiest, most densely populated cities on the planet, Gardens by the Bay is a colossal, gargantuan horticultural theme park designed to display the plant kingdom as edutainment - entertaining and educational - enchanting us but also conveying a powerful message that the pressure humans are putting on our environment is unsustainable and we need to move very fast indeed if we want life on earth to continue much beyond this century.

Dominating the skyline as you approach the huge nature park are the Supertrees, like giant upturned umbrella skeletons and familiar from travel posters the world over. Acting as environmental engine rooms for the gardens, these giant, tree-like structures, up to 50 metres high, harness solar energy to use for lighting, and also collect rain water for irrigation, exactly as trees photosynthesize and absorb rain water for growth. 

The Supertrees are in fact vertical gardens, planted with ferns, vines, orchids and bromeliads. Two of the tallest are linked by a walkway so you can enjoy the plants while admiring the vast landscape spread out below you. While the Supertrees are an iconic element of Gardens, it was the two mega glasshouses that drew me like a magnet. They are the world’s largest glasshouses with no interior support. (Gardens by the Bay rivals the US in boasting it has the biggest of everything, I’ll run out of adjectives in a minute.)

The Flower Dome duplicates a mild, dry climate with plants from Mediterranean and semi-arid regions but my favourite was the Cloud Forest, slightly smaller but higher and enclosing the 42m. Cloud Mountain that duplicates the cool moist conditions of tropical mountain regions. It is entirely clothed in epiphytes (organisms that grow on a plant’s surface but derive moisture and nutrients from air, rain and surrounding debris) including peacock ferns, anthuriums, bromeliads and clubmosses and hundreds of others. 

A number of levels feature various themes and there’s a splendid waterfall. You can take a lift up and walk down but it’s far more fun to walk up and back. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be there for the magic moment when the misters come on and for a few seconds you dream you’re really on a tropical mountain. Gardens by the Bay (www.gardensbythebay.com.sg) entry per adult/senior to the two conservatories is approximately $30-35.

Heads Up: Wildwood Garden, 29 Powell’s Road, Bilpin (www.wildwoodgarden.com.au/) re-opens for spring on August 10. Cool climate plants in a natural woodland setting; Wildwood Annual Camellia Show takes place over two weekends August 18/19 and 25/26.

Acting as environmental engine rooms for the gardens, these giant, tree-like structures, up to 50 metres high, harness solar energy to use for lighting...

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