Thursday, 11 October 2012

Singapore Botanic Gardens: first impressions

My work here in Indonesia is rapidly coming to a close. Last week I made my final business trip to attend a two day forum in Nongsa, near Batam in the Riau Islands. The island was pretty, and I had arranged to take Friday off either to have a look around Pulau Batam or to take the 40 minute ferry trip to Singapore for a day trip. I opted for the latter and headed straight for the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

These magnificent gardens were founded in 1859 and are an absolute treasure trove. I have way too many photos to share with you in just one post, so I thought I might do it in three stages: my first impressions, then the specialist gardens of the gingers and their relations, and finally, the orchids.

This was the first sight that absolutely blew me away, the Yellow Saraca, like a gorgeous golden cloud snagged in the branches.

Saraca thaipingensis (or S. indica?)

The first variegated Rhapis excelsa I have seen

The trunkless Silver Leaf Palm Johannesteijsmannia magnifica and behind them the Vanuatu  Fan Palm Licuala grandis

Epiphetic crows nest fern with red neck palms in the distance

I became a little obsessed by both the stunning flowers of the Cannonball Tree and the unusual way they grew out from the main trunk of the tree, hence multiple photos!

Couroupita guianensis

I loved the magnolia-like blooms of Dillenia philippinensis, but the only flower low enough for me to photograph had only two half-chewed petals left on it,  I just bet it would have had a lovely perfume too.

This stunning foliage plant is the Bat Lily or Black Lily Tacca integrifolia

Flower of the Bat Lily

This looks like a type of strangler fig where the host plant has died leaving just the aggressor wrapped around an empty space

Glorious heliconias

The Parrot Beak Heliconia rostrata

Heliconia chartacea 'Sexy Pink'

Talipot Palm Corypha umbraculifera

The palm on the left had interesting foliage with the fronds ending in a cluster

It was called the Manac or Long Thatch Palm Calyptronoma occidentalis 

I have admired this tree many times in the tropics but still haven't managed to discover its name. It has lovely, tender,  coppery-pink new leaves that droop downwards and look like flowers from a distance.

(Postscript to this: I'm home and reading through William Warren's 'Tropical Garden Plants'.  He is talking about the Saraca I opened this post with and says: 'new leaves appear as pink or purple tassels at the end of branches, turning green as they stiffen', so I am thinking this is very likely a Saraca that is not in bloom.)

Here is the whole tree with its pink new growth.

A young monitor lizard

A whole garden bed full of Singapore's national flower -

the orchid Vanda 'Miss Joaquin'

Love the contrast between the lime fern and the chocolate begonia

Burkill Hall, British colonial bungalow built in 1866 and now used for functions.

Red ginger Alpinia purpurata

The flowers of this are very similar to the Spider Lily Hymenocallis littoralis that I grow at home, but the plant is smaller and the leaves are a different shape.

Fabulous inflorescence on this fan palm

The beautiful sandpaper vine Petrea volubilis grows well in my home town of Brisbane. The dark blue are the true flowers, and the pale blue are the bracts.

Hope you enjoyed my first impressions of the wonderful Singapore Botanic Gardens, and there is still so much more to see.


  1. That cannon ball tree is amazing. Doesn't the Tropics produce the best plants! Im looking forward to Parts 2 & 3

  2. Oh that must have been an amazing place to wander through and congratulations on remembering what all of the plants are! Great photos

    1. I'm not so good on the remembering side. I knew a couple of the common names, but I took photos of the tags as I went, and generally the plants thoughout the garden were really well tagged.

  3. Lovely visit to yet another lovely Botanical Garden.
    I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through with you..can't wait for the rest of the posts on this garden.
    I collect palms, and there were a few that I don't have (yet!)

    1. They had some wonderful palms, a whole grove of them in one part of the gardens, but because of time restrictions I didn't investigate them all. I think my two favourites are the unnamed one in the last photo and the silver leaf palms with the huge leaves.

  4. These gardens are extremely beautiful, wonderful photos.
    Enjoy the rest of your time there.

    1. Thanks, Heidi. I got my suitcase out today to start packing, but I have had a wonderful time.

  5. I like this place also :-D Love to be there again. A few of your photos brought back good memories of my visit there. Thanks!

    1. It's definitely a place worth revisiting, Stephanie.



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