I go to Singapore’s Botanic Gardens a lot. Granted, it has the biased position of being the closest green space to where we live in Newton, but since the first time I visited it I knew I would go a lot anyway. It’s a beautiful, peaceful, calm oasis of green in the otherwise high-rise and hectic concrete jungle of Singapore.
Now, I’m no botanist. I’m sure that most reviews of theses gardens wax lyrical about the incredible array of flora and fauna (there are over 220 species of palm in Palm Valley and more than 250 species of ginger in the Ginger Garden for example) but that isn’t why I love it so much here, and don’t be fooled that you have to be a green fingered plant connoisseur to fall in love with this place too. Sure I appreciate all of the beautiful flowers and plants and trees, but it’s much more than that. It’s the sheer variety of what you can see, hear and notice that makes this one on my favourite places on the whole island. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so clearly I’m not the only one who thinks so. But I’ll give you my reasons.
Firstly, the wildlife. Whether it’s the terrapins sunbathing on part-submerged rocks in one of the lakes, a rooster scratching around in a flowerbed, the enormous fish fighting the swans for attention on Swan Lake, or a giant dragon-like lizard ambling past on you a path, the gardens are truly alive.
Secondly, the variety of paths and spaces; wide open green lawns for picnics, sunbathing or yoga. Shady trees and benches to sit and relax and watch the world go by, winding paths through giant trees or enclosed themed gardens with bright flowers. Lakes, swings, the bandstand. Every time I go, I discover something new if I take a different turn.
Thirdly, the sculptures. It’s not just about the plants as I said, there are also some beautiful structures; some hidden, some more majestically displayed, like the swans taking off from Swan Lake. There are fountains such as the Swiss Granite Fountain with an ever-revolving stone ball, a clock tower, an elephant, geese, and various charming people statues such as ‘Girl on a Bike’ and ‘Girl on a Swing’.
Lastly it’s the aromas and the noises. Insects chirping, birds tweeting, squirrels scurrying, wafts of jasmine and other sweet-smelling blooms, or deep earthy scents, especially after it has rained. Then this changes as it turns to night; bats swoop to replace the birds, the noises seem to get louder and the smells seem to get stronger.
I go there to jog, to stroll, to simply sit and think and take it all in, and watch people doing tai chi. Even at peak weekend time, it might be busy, but never crowded – there is always an empty path or a deserted bench. It’s a place of calm and quiet and beautiful nature that I will never get tired of.
Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569