|Ginger Gardens Pond|
It was a very hot day and it wasn't long before I needed to have a sit down. I did so at what was once part of the garden that crop experiments were conducted at. It has now transformed into a lovely green space that was a relaxing place for a seat. I wasn't alone - a man had also chosen this spot for a nap. I kept my distance as he looked out for the count. Just below my position was some form of visitor centre with a coffee shop which looked very inviting. I decided though that I wasn't quite ready for a coffee or indeed lunch and moved on wandering past some more mini-waterfalls. I realised that just as I had done with the botanic gardens in Kuala Lumpur a few weeks earlier that water plays a big part in the landscape of a garden in these parts. I guess with so much to manage during rainy seasons that it is vital to channel the water somewhere and have plenty of capacity to deal with it.
As I wandered away from the visitor centre I came upon a small group of older women doing their morning exercises. This is a sight that never fails to mesmerise and fascinate me - the slow movement of these Asian exercises (I think Tai Chi in this case) always looks so controlled and deliberate. I didn't get long to watch in this case though - they were just about at the end of their session and they dispersed within a coupe of minutes. I took a small path away from the main tarmac roads that led up into the rainforest part of the garden. As its name suggests it is a small tract of rainforest of approximately 6 hectares in size that actually predates the garden. Once up through the steps it was hard to believe that I was in the heart of a major world city. Within this area are some remarkable trees, including a species of fig that relies on a specific species of wasp to pollinate it. The was in turn is wholly reliant on the fig tree for its survival - rather an amazing relationship. Another was the enormous Meranti, a gigantic tree that throws roots down from high up on its trunk. There are approximately 50 of these trees in Singapore but despite wide scale searches no seedling or sapling has been found anywhere in Singapore and it could be that once the existing ones die it will become locally extinct. This particular one is the only one that is publicly accessible anywhere in the city.
Also at this end of the garden was a set of steps built by prisoners of war overseen by occupying Japanese troops in World War II. They are a bit of a memorial to the thousands of PoWs who suffered the tyranny of the occupying forces. A touch of defiance can still be seen in some of the bricks that have arrows imprinted in them to indicate that the forced labour was due to "detention by the authorities". Just across from there is the most amazing looking palm tree - it almost resembles bamboo but clearly with palm shaped leaves. Apparently it grows well on Borneo and yield black thorns that were used for blowpipe darts and fruits eaten by local tribes.
|Monkey Pot Tree|
By now I was feeling pretty hot and bothered and was thankful for a bit of time in the air-conditioned small museum a little further on in Holttum Hall. The display in here describes the history of the garden from its early beginnings as an experimental commercial garden where species from all over the world were brought to see how they coped with the tropical climate of Singapore and how they might be used commercially. The biggest success of these trials was with rubber but it was by no means the only one - various others including fruits, vegetables and spices. After my air-conditioned interlude I felt refreshed enough to continue and made my way down to Swan Lake.
|Palm - Or Bamboo?|
|Bridge Over Keppel Wetlands|
I descended into the valley for a closer look at the wetlands and was pleased that I did for I saw a number of colourful dragonflies, a couple of which obliged me with a picture. The boardwalks around the wetlands allowed plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife even though there wasn't actually much about. When I had looped around I was surpised to find myself at the back end of the Ginger Garden once again. The scale of the park is most deceptive - it seems a lot bigger than it actually is in parts. I stopped briefly for a very welcome ice cream at the side of the Ginger Garden before wandering down through Palm Valley to the Symphony Stage. Orchestral concerts are performed here - they must be quite a treat to see (making mental note to find out when they are).