Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dazzling Display

Written by Karen.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a vast and varied tropical garden in the center of Singapore. It is bordered by some of the busiest streets of downtown Singapore: Holland Road, Tyersall Avenue, Cluny Park Road, Bukit Timah Road, and Evans Road.  But despite being in the center of a large and bustling city, this diverse 7.4 hectare (18 acre) landscape is quiet and peaceful. It is a well-established refuge of verdant greenery, flowers, waterfalls, ponds, lakes and the peaceful quiet that nature can bring.  

We wandered through the ginger garden, with the scented ginger flowers in full bloom, the palm valley full of fronds, fans and feathery palms, a rain forest with over 314 different species of tropical jungle plants and thundering cool waterfalls, and a beautiful quiet reflective lake called the Swan Lake. Birds and insects squawked and buzzed around us as we walked towards the crown jewel - at least for me - the National Orchid Garden.  

The National Orchid Garden was on the top of my list of things to see in Singapore.  This particular garden boasted of having the largest display of tropical orchids in the world.  Despite my inability to get potted orchids to re-bloom, I love orchids: the scents, the delicate beauty, the colors, and the graceful arc and arches. This Garden has over 1,000 different species of orchids and 2,000 hybrids in its current collection.  I couldn’t imagine being in such a large orchid garden, surrounded by thousands of these beautiful plants in a natural setting.  
I loved the place.  The National Orchid Garden is huge and took us about 3 hours to wander up and down its tiny paths.  There was color and beauty and fragrance everywhere you looked.  I could have stayed longer - or come back again and again - as this is a wondrous and dazzling spectacle of nature’s simple but awesome beauty.  It is a place for quiet reflection and grateful appreciation for the chance to slow down in the middle of a hectic and busy world.   

We are walking towards Swan Lake.  This is a popular place for families and individuals to walk and picnic.  The Swan Lake was completed in 1866.  As the name suggests, there are swans gliding through the serene waters.  
A closer view of Swan Lake
Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage.  This concert hall is in the middle of a man-made lake, full of water lilies.  There are monthly symphony concerts with the audience sitting on the slanting hill starting just where I am taking this photograph. 
A closer view of the lily pads - some of these saucer-like floating plants are three feet in diameter.
We saw these carp jumping and leaping through the greenery.  According to Chinese legend, the image of carp swimming and leaping against the river current signifies that persistent effort is needed to overcome obstacles.  
We were lucky enough to be in Singapore for the Chinese New Year.  We saw many of these types of traditional offerings of food and flowers symbolic of asking for a prosperous and healthy new year.  This rather large offering was seen in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.  It was comprised of flowers, red lanterns and hangings, food and stuffed animals.  I was somewhat surprised that people seemed to respect these offerings and didn't touch or take from them.  They - as we did - took pictures, but respected the tradition and watched from afar.  
A tree in the rain forest part of the Botanic Garden.  There were ferns growing out of every crevice of this tree, with hanging vines swaying in the wind.  The branches were full of birds singing to other birds in other trees.  It was a symphony. 
Prickly purple beauty
A hidden pond and waterfall.  Wandering along the path less traveled, we saw several of hidden areas of quiet solitude and natural beauty.
We walked along a 20 foot high raised platform to see these huge and magnificent palms.  Each of the fern circles were at least 8 feet in diameter. 
Spring is in the air!
I forgot that the pineapple is considered a Bromeliad.  According to an informational sign nearby, Bromeliads and humans have an intimate relationship that dates back thousands of years.  The Inca, Aztec and Maya cultures used them for food, protection and in ceremonies.  In the 1800's, Belgian, French and Dutch breeders started to cultivate exotic varieties for their leaf forms and vivid colors  The most noteworthy and commercial variety of the Bromeliad is the Ananas Comosus or the edible pineapple.  In the Chinese culture, the pineapple is a symbol of fortune and good luck.  As such, pineapples in the form of potted plants, fruits, pastries and snacks are widely used during the festive season.
As we wandered through the orchids, we could see these overgrown statues.  It gave the impression that we were walking down undiscovered paths.
The following pictures are some of the pictures that I took as we wandered throughout the Orchard Garden.  They don't do this place justice.  

I'm loving this place.  You can see the height of the orchid plants behind me.  In some places, the orchid plants were taller than me. In other places, there were fields of orchids, stretching out for yards and yards in all directions.  In other places, orchids would dangle tantalizingly from cracks and crevices in the towering trees high above us.  In other places, the delicate colors and flowers would tangle themselves up with green stalks weaving together into a tapestry of orange, pink and white.  I wind up leaving this place completely sated, feeling that I have dove headlong into a wonderous pool of endless color and quiet beauty.


Anonymous said...

Hi Karen ! Love all the pictures taken at the a botanical Garden, especially the orchids! Great job. Nina.

Observers of Life said...

Hi Nina!

Great to hear from you! You would have loved this place...orchids everywhere you looked!