We can now commemorate the 4th of July as the day in which our Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The euphoria, since the announcement was made at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany, was palpable in Singapore. This is our SG5o year.
It’s indeed a fitting gift for Singapore’s Jubilee year – our very first World Heritage Site. In just over a month away, the SG50 Jubilee celebrations will reach its apogee during our National Day on 9th August. Our SBG is the first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. It is also the first in Asia and the third botanic gardens inscribed in the list.
Our Gardens’ Two Predecessors
Our SBG follows Orto Botanico di Padova (Padua) and the Kew Gardens (London) in the World Heritage list. The botanical garden in Padua, founded by the Benedectine monks in 1545, is the world’s oldest and is known for its special collection of medicinal plants.
Kew Gardens, founded in 1840, has the world’s largest collection of living plants. Together with the botanic gardens at Wakehurst Place in Sussex, they are managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – an internationally important botanical research and education institution.
The Singapore Tourism Board can well take a cue from Kew Gardens too on how to make our UNESCO-listed SBG a top tourist draw!
The Connections Between Kew And Singapore Botanic Gardens
There are two major connections linking the Kew Gardens and the SBG. The first involves botanists who were trained in Kew. They helped to chart the growth of the Gardens into an important botanical institute.
The second involves the 22 para rubber seedlings from Kew, where the seeds that had been smuggled from Brazil first germinated. Para rubber became a major crop that brought great prosperity to the South East Asian region.
My Own Connections With The Singapore Botanic Gardens
I moved to live just opposite to the Gardens’ Cluny Road entrance in early January 2013. And in April 2013, along with many others, I welcomed Singapore’s application for SBG to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I knew then that we have a more-than-good-chance. And now it is a reality. Hurray.
And so I took many photos over the past two years during my health-walks. I love taking my walks very early in the morning or late in the nights for the cooler air.
My typical route is via the Tanglin Gate, the main entrance, and my turn-around point is the Bukit Timah gate. In between these two points, I went random – taking in the Swan Lake, Sun Garden, the Bandstand at the Tanglin Core or the Rain Forest, Evolution Garden, Palm Valley, Ginger Garden and others in the Central Core.
The National Orchid Garden
Also located within the Central Core is the National Orchid Garden which requires an entrance fee. I reserve my visits there for my overseas visitors. The Celebrity Orchid Garden within it is often a hit with my visitors.
At the Tanglin Core, are the iconic bandstand, Swan Lake, Bonsai Garden, the Sun Garden, Botany Centre, the curtain of roots, amongst others. Here you will find Vanda Miss Joaquim – Singapore’s national flower.
Often on Sunday mornings, wedding couples, along with their entourage and photo assistants, can be found trudging along to find their favourites photo spots.
And on one occasion, I spotted a fairy – complete with wings amongst the greenery of the gardens. On closer look, a group of young people were in cosplay costumes and they were just taking advantage of the special location – my favourite Evolution Garden. It features Jurassic Park-like plant life featuring cycads and tree ferns. So if you like to go back in time, you would not want to miss the Evolution Garden.
My pictures were taken at different times of the day and over a period of two years. This huge 74-hectare (183 acres) botanic garden was started in 1859 and I hope this post can whet the appetite of both residents and visitors alike to come and explore Singapore’s first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
J and his bride Catherine had certainly love SBG so much that they came all the way from Sulawesi, Indonesia to include it in their wedding memories. You can too.
Here’s more information on the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ official website: https://www.sbg.org.sg/