On 29 June 2012, Singapore’s latest attraction, the Gardens by the Bay South is opened to the public. The 54-hectare Bay South is the largest among the cluster of the three gardens dubbed “Gardens by the Bay“.
Along with my friends David and YS, we were privileged to be invited to a media tour of the gardens by Marcom Manager Ferne Yap. The tour focusses on the main attractions of the garden, namely the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, Supertrees and the OCBC Skywalk.
Our first stop is at the Supertree Grove — a collection of 12 Supertrees in the garden. These are the tree-like structures of between 25-50m tall serving as vertical gardens which various plants are planted. Being designed to use sustainable energy, the Supertree also has solar cells at their top to collect solar energy in the day and power the Supertrees’ lights at night.
At the top of the Supertrees at the Supertree Grove is the OCBC Skywalk, a 128m-long walkway suspended among the Supertrees at a height of about 22m above the ground.
Now we move on to one of the 2 cooled conservatories in the garden – the Flower Dome. This 1.2 hectare conservatory replicates the cool-dry climate of the Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy. It features plants from the Mediterranean and semi-arid subtropical regions and an ever-changing display in the Flower Field to reflect the different seasons.
After being in the heat and humidity that is Singapore’s climate, it’s refreshing to step in to the Flower Dome which has a temperature of just 23-25°C.
The way the 2 conservatories are cooled involves some special techniques aimed at minimizing energy usage. Air is cooled using a liquid desiccant before being passed through chilled water pipes in the ground slabs. This lets the cool air “hug” the lower areas, while the hot air naturally rises and vents through the top of the dome. The 3,332 glass panels covering the conservatory are also made of spectrally selective glass which lets in light but cuts out most of the heat, reducing the amount of energy required to cool the conservatory.
This is the second conservatory in the Gardens by the Bay South, made to replicate the cool-moist climate of high-elevation (1000-3500m above sea level) regions and features plants from the tropical Montane regions. The highlight of the conservatory is the 35m-tall man-made Cloud Mountain with a waterfall.
An elevator takes us to the top, which is known as the “Lost World”. From there, we take a leisurely walk on the walkways called the “Cloud Walk” at the top, and the “Treetop Walk” at the lower level. According to Ferne, there’s supposed to be mist generated at intervals but we were not lucky enough to experience them.
Before long, we have come to the end of the tour and Ferne bid us farewell. We thank her and the Gardens by the Bay organising the private tour for us. It’s indeed encouraging to see them engaging social media to reach out to the public. YS was in fact very impressed by the level of respect and hospitality accorded to us. I hope more organisations will do likewise.
There are more areas of the public areas of the Gardens by the Bay South which we did not manage to cover in that morning. However, I had arrived early and took some shots around the garden before the tour started. You can see all the photos on my Flickr set here.
I’ll be going back to the gardens again to take more photos (especially dusk/dawn shots), and I’d encourage you to visit too. The entrance fee of $20 for both the domes is well worth it. For more information on the Gardens by the Bay, do visit their website.