National Orchid Garden
1 Cluny Road
Price: 5 SGD, including about 2-hour-long guided tour
Working hours: from 8.30 to 19.00, every day
The National Orchid Garden, which stretches over one of the highest hills in the Singapore Botanical Gardens, is thought to be among state’s key sights and is rightly considered an integral part of its national heritage, with over a million and a half tourists from all over the world visiting it annually.
The Singapore Garden’s collection of live orchids is the largest in the entire world, with about 60 000 specimen of these fabulously beautiful plants, including 1000 species and over 2000 hybrids, gathered here. This multitude of orchids, comprising the most incredible shapes, colors and tints, grows along this designer garden’s shady alleys and constitutes a truly impressive spectacle. The National Garden’s collection is constantly being complemented with new flowers, brought in from around the world.
The Orchid Garden is split into several sections. The largest one of these is called Orchids of Singapore and consists of the rich and very bright collection of plants that are gathered on city-state’s territory. It is here that one can see the country’s most famous Orchid – Vanda Miss Joaquim - that is officially recognized as Singapore national Symbol. The flower owes its lofty status to its vitality and year-round blossoming, which, according to authorities, symbolize the Singaporeans’ desire for progress and their ability to withstand hardships. The orchid received its name in honor of the scientist Agnes Joaquim, who discovered this amazing natural hybrid of Burmese and Malay orchids in her garden back in 1893.
Ever since that year it has become a tradition to name new flowers after prominent people. As a result, a collection of VIP-species, named after Singapore's highest-ranked guests, has appeared in the National Garden: the Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher orchids can all be seen here. There is also an indoor glass pavilion Cool House on the garden’s territory; the cool House has a special microclimate that is close to natural for the orchids brought in from countries with a colder climate.
The National Orchid Garden of Singapore is divided in four colored zones. Delicate colored flowers grow in the so called spring zone, while pink and red orchids occupy the summer zone, rich yellow and golden plants are located in the fall zone, while somberly colored flowers grow in the winter zone.
It is possible to buy some of the most original and valuable souvenirs around – an orchid in gold or silver – as a memento to visiting the Singapore Orchid Garden. These are made in a rather unusual way: the freshly cut flower is put into a solution with a high concentration of gold or silver. After this, an electric current is applied and electrolytic process begins: the petals uniformly covered with a layer of precious metal, turning the orchid into a truly exquisite decoration. Large flowers become brooches, while smaller ones are transformed into earrings and pendants. As with the orchids themselves, each item of this kind is completely unique, with inimitable tracery and shape. Orchid sprouts, packed into a flask with a special solution, are sold in the garden’s souvenir shop. It is possible to raise a real flower from such a sprout at home.