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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

Singapore Orchid Garden is my happy place

Updated: Oct 29, 2022

When people say “go to your happy place” I close my eyes and remember visiting the incredibly gorgeous National Orchid Gardens in Singapore.

To find over 60,000 stunning plants in one place is a sensory delight. This UNESCO world heritage site was founded way back in 1859, and now has over three and a half acres of landscaped areas, all within the botanical gardens.

What is not to love about orchids? They are a diverse plant. From the large Singaporean Grammatophyllum speciosum, whose flowers are a giant 15 to 20cms (5 to 8 inches), down to flowers so tiny, you need a magnifying glass to see them.

The flowers are showy and display themselves in over thirty thousand different colours and combinations.

Many resemble female insects, to aid in attracting male pollinators.

Throughout the gardens the orchids are left, right and even grow on overhead arches.

The well-designed plantings are a joyful blend of colours.

As you stroll along meandering paths you encounter trickling fountains and waterfalls. Seats are spaced around the area for a rest, or just to invite passersby to pause and admire the view.

I expected the mist and cool houses to host lovely tropical orchids, but once inside, their beauty surpassed my expectations. It was truly a wonderous sight.

On a hot, humid Singapore day stepping into the Sembcorp coolhouse, you can feel the welcome drop in temperature immediately. Temperatures are between 16 to 23 degrees Celsius and allow for delicate growing blooms to be studied and admired. Also in the coolhouse are bromeliads, begonias and carnivorous plants. Oncidiums live here too. They are New World orchids and grown in dense clumps of trees.The coolhouse emulates habitats in high elevation montane forest around the world, usually found between 1,000 and 2,000 metres. When you visit and see the beauty that lives in these delicate and threatened ecosystems, you realise how important it is to protect them.

Rare corduroy, swap and jewel orchids grow amongst the ferns, rocks and cascading streams of the Secret Ravine. In cloud forests (between 900 and 1,200m), many orchids grow on tree ferns. The “trunks” of the ferns are made up of roots which have a capacity for high water retention, perfect for the orchids to thrive. This orchidetum simulates a tropical rainforest. This mist house is over 760 square metres of stunning and striking plants.

Well positioned information boards educated visitors about these exquisite plants.

Since 1928 the gardens have been breeding hybrids. Over 2000 are on display. The new orchids are named after world prominent personalities, stars and politicians, such as Sealara Nelson Mandela. One beautiful white flowering orchid - Dendrobium Stefanie Sun, is named after the Singaporean singer and song writer. “Celebrities are invited to visit the garden, where the new hybrids are named to commemorate their visit and celebrate their success.” – from a sign in the garden. Visitors can see these hybrids with signage explaining details of the person and the plant.

How long should people spend visiting the orchid garden? There is such beauty everywhere here that it is easy to lose track of time. At least half a day would be great time investment to enjoy all that the National Orchid Garden has to offer. Then, the Botanical Gardens will entertain visitors for the remainder of a full day. Restaurants are situated in the Botanical Gardens for those wishing to spend an entire leisurely day here.

Happy Travels!

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