Singapore…A City in a Garden!
Trip Recap August 27th - September 3rd, 2013
 


September 1
This day and the next were courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board (thank you Alice!) They have given me a guide and driver and we have planned two very busy days seeing as much as possible in this short time.

Danny my guide and my driver Chua and I headed out into the country side this morning…
The Kranji Heritage Trail was conceived in 2010 when there was much talk by the government about preserving Singapore’s history in the form of heritage towns. We visited a couple of the places on this trail….

Bollywood Veggies
The drive in to the farm was in its own therapeutic as we watched our scenery change from Singapore’s typical high-rise buildings to a myriad of greens. Bollywood Veggies is a sanctuary catering to nature lovers. A wonderful place to get a glimpse of what the people grow, eat and value. Manda met us and toured us around showing us what was here…just delightful and I was amazed at the varieties of bananas here. There is one called the thousand finger banana that can grow up to many feet in length. These are not edible and so the birds and animals can eat those. All you see is organically grown. All you eat here in the resto is fresh and tasty. As we entered there were yummy aromas coming from the kitchen where food was being prepared for breakfast and lunch. They get a lot of people coming out here to enjoy the fresh home made food. We were brought a tray of little dishes to try and sweets too, and of course their famous banana bread. Manda had such a passion for this place it was very evident and so appreciated. Thank you for your hospitality and knowledge.

Bollywood Veggies is the largest producer of organic bananas (25) and papayas in Singapore. You can buy organically grown vegetables, pots of herbs and medicinal plants, have a lovely meal at the Bistro, or just stroll about on the farm. A great introduction for kids to farms and where vegetables come from. Jay Santos is the very capable and friendly farm manager here.
The 10-acre farm, was purchased in 2001 as part of a retirement plan. Ivy Singh-Lim is not your ordinary Singapore resident, but she is certainly one of the most vocal and colourful personalities. Together with her husband Lim Ho Seng, she has become a farmer-entrepreneur with a passion. They also have a passion for rescue dogs and we find out there are 7 on the property. Gotta love dog people.
http://bollywoodveggies.com/

Then on to Nyee Phoe
Recognizing that gardens are "the face of any home" they have developed the concept of nature being a therapy, the great healer. Many elements go into our gardens from pots, to ponds, from bins to benches, from trellises to trees. Here you will find them all.

Then to the beautiful Singapore Botanic Gardens - The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a dynamic and living monument to the foresight of the founding fathers of Singapore. Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore and a keen naturalist, established the first botanical and experimental garden on Government Hill (Fort Canning Hill) in 1822, shortly after his arrival in Singapore. He aimed to introduce cultivation of economic crops such as cocoa and nutmeg. However, without a full-time salaried director and sufficient funding, the garden languished and was closed in 1829, after Raffles' death. The Gardens at its present site was founded in 1859 by an Agri-Horticultural Society. Planned as a leisure garden and ornamental park, the Society organized flower shows and horticultural fetes. In 1874, the Society handed over management and maintenance of the site to the government.

It is fair to say that the history of the Gardens is in many respects the history of its dedicated administrators. The Gardens' first Director, Henry Nicholas Ridley, came to the Gardens in 1888 and worked tirelessly for the next 23 years to usher the Gardens into the twentieth century and its most productive period historically. He is the one who introduced rubber trees into Singapore as a cash crop and it saved the farmers when their coffee crops failed because of disease. The plants at the Botanic Gardens became the basis for Southeast Asia's rubber industry, an industry that generated fortunes.

It was also during Ridley's administration that Singapore's national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim, was discovered. An Armenian lady, Agnes Joaquim was in her garden when a new hybrid caught her attention. Thrilled with the beautiful discovery, she rushed to Ridley with the plant. Ridley confirmed that a new orchid hybrid, previously unknown to science and that flowered freely year round has been created.

Fast forward to…
Under the stewardship of Dr Nigel Taylor, who came to Singapore from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 2011, the Gardens is geared towards entrenching itself as a tropical botanical institution of international renown, a key tourist destination and a flagship park.

You can read the whole article here… http://www.sbg.org.sg/aboutus/ourhistory.asp

Suffice to say I was thrilled to be here - what a wonderful, joyful garden. They receive over 4 million visitors a year! I can see why. They share with other botanic gardens around the world and I hear that there is a double coconut that has the names on each of the 20 kg seeds for some of the botanic gardens waiting for them…lets hope they are viable after waiting for them… The orchids are magnificent – they say it is the largest display of tropical orchids in the world - so were the gingers – several hundred of them happily growing behind a waterfall - oh for that matter the whole garden is really. 650 species of palm live here with 220 of them in Palm Valley. We enjoyed lunch at Halia on the grounds…tucked into an infusion of ginger tea with wild honey, Halia chilli crab pasta – very spicy, sweet and tangy sauce and coffee. I bought a book on the Ginger Garden so that would be able to identify them all. What an excellent reference book! With over 1500 species plus all the others that are related, it is over 3000 species to try and figure out.

I was even more thrilled to have as my personal tour guide Dr. Nigel Taylor, Director of these gardens and thank him for the beautiful book on the garden. It was such fun to chat with him and hear his stories of being at Kew and now here. He loves it here. If you look, you will see him on a golf cart, yes, that was such a great idea. We got to see so much more this way! It seems very fitting indeed that Dr. Taylor, from Kew, should be here at these gardens because of the history they both share.
http://www.sbg.org.sg/

And finally Far East Flora, a major market with local and imported garden accessories, plants, garden tools and silk and dried flowers. It gave me a really good idea of what gardeners shop for here.

Now it was time to visit the SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands. We were going to the Gardens by the Bay tomorrow but today it was high up on the 57th floor for a fantastic view of the city and a great gin and tonic at the Ku De Ta Club Lounge. http://www.marinabaysands.com/sands-skypark/  seeing the size of the Gardens was awesome from this height and it made me so excited, could hardly wait for tomorrow. This whole area was made from reclaimed land. From here we walked into the Marina Bay Sands Hotel because I was on a mission to find those 10 tall pottery plant pots that I had read about…83 of them from China made their way here to grace the hotel lobby. Each one taking 20 days to fire….breathtaking and yet so small in comparison to the size of the hotel lobby….as you can see by the photos. There is just the most striking building there…it is the iconic ArtScience Museum and shaped like a lotus and often called ‘the welcoming hand of Singapore’. Designed by Moshe Safdie it is truly a work of art with 10 fingers that make up the building. The tallest stands 60 metres above you. It is surrounded by a 4,000 square metre lily pond and reflects the building beautifully. Also note the huge Luis Vuitton store on the waterfront… Yikes, cannot begin to imagine what things cost in that shop.

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  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row