Supertrees, Cloud Forest: Singapore's ultimate high-tech gardens
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The casino is great.
But Marina Bay Singapore's arguably hottest attraction is Gardens by the Bay, a cutting-edge multi-award-winning horticultural mega project featuring 50-meter-high solar-powered "supertrees" and climate-controlled biomes.
The Gardens consist of three waterfront gardens built on reclaimed land.
The Bay South Garden alone is estimated to have cost more than S$1 billion ($720 million).
The 54-hectare Bay South Garden, the main garden, features cooled flower domes, multiple heritage-themed outdoor gardens and two lakes.
It’s the first of a three-part plan.
Bay East is currently open to the public as an interim park with basic infrastructure. More development will be carried out at a later stage.
When the entire Gardens complex, including Bay East and Bay Central gardens, is completed, it’ll sit on 101-hectares of reclaimed land, the space of 177 football fields.
Bay South Garden's two glass biomes -- dubbed "Cloud Forest" and "Flower Dome" -- were designed to replicate the cool-moist climate of the tropical Montane region, Mediterranean and semi-arid subtropical regions like South Africa.
The conservatories feature plants and trees from these areas, which are among the most threatened habitats in the world, say Gardens officials.
Many were shipped in, fully grown -- most notably several ancient olive trees from Spain -- one thought to be more than a thousand years old.
In addition to the permanent display of plant life and tree species, there are seasonal changing floral displays in the Flower Dome, timed to coincide with different festivals and themes.
The Flower Dome is officially the world’s largest glass greenhouse, as named by the Guinness Books of Records in 2015.
Featuring a 35-meter-high indoor waterfall, the Cloud Forest is every bit as impressive, housing 130,000 plants found between 1,000 and 3,500 meters above sea level.
Ranging in height from 25 to 50 meters, the Gardens' 18 Supertrees are basically vertical gardens covered in bromeliads, ferns and tropical flowering climbers.
Two of the trees are connected via an aerial walkway.
It's innovative stuff. The structures mimic the ecological functions of real trees through their environmentally sustainable features.
Some have photovoltaic cells on their canopies to harvest solar energy to light up at night, others are integrated with cooled conservatories and serve as air exhaust receptacles.
Something for everyone
“Gardens by the Bay provides a unique green space and horticulture-themed leisure destination in Marina Bay for all to enjoy," says Dr. Kiat W. Tan, CEO of Gardens by the Bay.
The crowds attest to that.
In less than three years since the Gardens by the Bay opened, it’s attracted 15 million visitors.
Venues include indoor and outdoor events gardens and 10 food and beverage outlets.
For high end diners there’s a modern European restaurant, Pollen, by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, from which guests can emerge late in the evening and immerse themselves in the surreal experience of being in the Flower Dome at night.
The more casual Satay By The Bay food court specializes in, you guessed it, freshly grilled meat on skewers.
For kids, there’s a water park and forest adventure playground, designed to encourage children to interact with nature.
The Lions Bridge links Bay South Garden to Marina Bay Sands. MRT: Bayfront station.
Entry to gardens is free but for the cooled conservatories there’s a charge of S$28/adult ($20), S$15/child (three-12 years old). Entry to the Aerial Walkway is S$5/adult, S$3/child.
Bay South Garden is open daily from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Opening hours for cooled conservatories and Aerial Walkway in the Supertree Grove: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Gardens By The Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953 Singapore;
Originally published June 29, 2012. Updated March 20, 2015.