Gardens take pride of place in tropical Singapore. It’s never been a more exciting time for an Australian gardener to visit. Singaporeans are obsessed with chlorophyll… They have long talked up the benefits of a city upgrade – from one of the world’s leading garden cities into a 21st century garden utopia.
Now, they’re building it. Gardens by the Bay is a big investment, representing a great leap forward in holistic planning.
I think you’ll be as inspired and surprised by changes to Singapore as I am. Be ready to experience cloud forest, equatorial rainforest, plus a hint of semi-arid California, the Mediterranean, and inland Australia. Did you know Singapore grows Sturt’s Desert peas (Swainsona formosa) better than most Australian gardens?
“Lowland gardening is an all-the-year-round job because nature (whether as friend or enemy) works quickly in our warm, humid climate”. Professor Holttum, former Director of Singapore Botanic Gardens,‘Gardening in the Lowlands of Malaya’, 1953.
This tropical winter getaway includes the Singapore Garden Festival, and promises the very best experience for the gardening enthusiast.
Utopia? Singapore is much more than a lush, leafy place to live – it enthusiastically harnesses its gardeners and its green expertise to increase education, trade, tourism and the quality of life.
Public open space is creative and every square metre is thoughtfully used.
Gardens by the Bay, a spectacular botanic show garden, contains two of the world’s largest glasshouses, each with different climates. Gardens by the Bay is a big investment, representing a great leap forward in holistic planning. They are the beginning of a thoroughly home grown revolution in urban living.
Since independence, this fertile island nation, a mere 137 km north of the equator, has been developing purposefully and methodically into a garden city with outstanding, world-leading horticultural assets.
Singapore Botanic Gardens is the city’s green heart, linking a productive past to the evolving future of tropical horticulture. The landscape is complex and has enviable standards of maintenance, heritage trees, education, conservation and research programmes. The National Orchid Garden grows, shows and breeds thousands of different hybrids. The world’s best orchid garden has influenced international floristry.
Growing Singapore from a global trading hub into a premier, modern garden city has taken several decades of diligent land management, conserving and integrating a network of conservation reserves, parks, nature-ways and tree-lined roads, weaving them into the fabric of urban green space. They exemplify best practice in municipal and amenity horticulture.
Singapore has developed the world’s best practice in water catchment management. The city is self sufficient in water – stormwater is separated from sewage water, protecting the quality of water in catchments.
Canberra and Singapore cover a similar land area, though more than ten times the population of Canberra call Singapore home.
Join me, and let’s take a peek at the horticultural, landscape and floral highlights of this tree-lined, garden-loving city with a passion for plants.
4th March 2016
HELLO EMERALD CITY! TOUR SINGAPORE with JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS
From 22 July 2016 to 26 July 2016
Join Kew-trained horticulturalist, conservationist and presenter of ABC’s Gardening Australia, Jerry Coleby-Williams on a small group tour of Singapore to discover it’s horticultural and culinary delights.
Day 1: Friday 22 July 16 Arrive Singapore
Fly from Brisbane (or your nearest) International Airport to Singapore.
0910: Depart Brisbane on Singapore Airlines flight SQ 256
1530: Arrive Singapore
After clearing immigration and customs at Singapore Changi Airport, look for your local guide in the arrivals hall. The guide can be identified by a small sign with the wording “Singapore with JCW” on it.
Take a transfer to the Parkroyal on Pickering – a unique modern hotel in downtown Singapore with incredible sky-gardens and city views. Jerry will meet everybody in the hotel lobby upon arrival.
After some free time at the hotel to freshen-up, we will be dropped off at Lau Pa Sat (“the old market”) for dinner (meal at own expense). Lau Pa Sat is the grand dame of markets in Singapore. The market’s striking Victorian-era cast iron architecture, built in 1894, was moulded in Glasgow. This is a great setting for scrumptious Singaporean food, a little island of the colonial past amidst the city.
With bellies full of local hawker food, we then board a ‘bumboat’ for a cruise along the Singapore River to see the city lit up at night. A transfer will then drop us back to the hotel.
Stay four nights at the Parkroyal on Pickering (Superior room) in Singapore.
Meal included: None
Important note: No vouchers are required for all the listed travel arrangements in Singapore which have been made by Mayflower Holidays (based in Kuala Lumpur) and their local contact, The Traveller DMC (based in Singapore) on behalf of Inter Asia Tours. In the event you may encounter any difficulty that cannot be solved by the local guide, please contact or ask the hotel to contact The Traveller DMC immediately for assistance – See their contact details below.
Day 2: Saturday 23 July 16 Singapore City Tour & Gardens by the Bay
This morning we will explore Singapore on a private guided tour of the city.
Our orientation tour of Singapore begins with a drive around the Civic District past the Padang, Cricket Club, Parliament House, Supreme Court and City Hall. You’ll have great views of Marina Bay when you stop for photos at Merlion Park and the Merlion – Singapore’s mythological creature that is part lion and part fish. The tour continues with a visit one of the oldest Buddhist-Taoist temples on the island of Singapore, Thian Hock Keng Temple.
Next stop is Little India. With its’ beautiful temples, exotic markets and delicious food you’ll be dazzled by the sights, sounds and aromas of this ethnic enclave. We will grab a bit to eat (lunch at own expense) and take a break at one of the small vegetarian restaurants near the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Try a delicious masala tea and masala thosai – savoury crepes filled with curried vegetables.
In the afternoon we’ll visit the Gardens by the Bay. With Jerry guiding you through these spectacular 21st century botanic gardens it will surely be a memorable experience – take advantage of his knowledge and quiz him!
The Gardens by the Bay span 101 ha (250 acres) of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The reservoir receives rainwater from a 10,000 ha catchment, one sixth of the city’s footprint. The Gardens by the Bay are part of the government’s plan to transition Singapore from a garden city into a ‘city in a garden’, using horticulture, the urban forest and other green assets to raise the quality of life.
The park consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. The largest of the three gardens is Bay South Garden which covers an area of 54 ha (130 acres). It contains two massive and impressively planted conservatories – the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. Visits to both are included in the tour.
Spectacular, innovative and refreshingly cool, the 1.2 ha Flower Dome is the largest column-less glasshouse on Earth. The Flower Dome replicates the dry temperate climates of the Mediterranean, South Africa, California, and parts of Spain and Italy. With plantsman Jerry on hand you will not only enjoy the amazing beauty of these plantings and flowers, but you will also gain insights into the world of plant adaptations and plant uses – quiz him!.
At 0.8 ha (2 acres) the Cloud Forest includes a 42-metre mini-mountain, complete with a 35-metre waterfall, the world’s highest constructed waterfall. The summit can be reached by elevator and descended via escalators, making the glasshouse accessible to all. Experience the cool, moist conditions of the tropical highland regions between 1,000 to 3,000 metres above sea level. A highlight is the walk down Cloud Mountain. Occasionally shrouded in mist, Cloud Mountain is planted with epiphytes and other unusual highland plants, like orchids, bromeliads, vireya rhododendrons, tree ferns, medinillas and anthuriums. A lake filled with islands of insectivorous plants sits at the summit of this architectural and horticultural wonder. We guarantee that this, plus great glimpses of the cityscape, will inspire you.
There are plenty of rare and unusual, eye-opening tropical plants and landscapes growing outside too. Eighteen Supertrees are located at Gardens by the Bay, with 12 forming the Supertree Grove. Standing at heights varying between 25 to 50 metres, these iconic vertical gardens have broad canopies that cast welcome shade and come alive with an exhilarating display of light and music at night. Take the opportunity to ascend one of the Supertrees to absorb the panoramic views of this 21st century botanic garden and the surrounding Marina Bay. Also highly recommended for its views is a stroll along the OCBC Skyway – a 22 metre high, 128 m long aerial walkway connecting two of the Supertrees. The walkway closes at 9pm, but access ceases at 8.30pm. The Super Tree Grove is open until midnight and the light and sound show, which begins at 8pm, is breath-taking. After a magical evening show, we will be returned to our hotel by private guided transfer, arriving by 10:00pm.
Meal included: Breakfast
Day 3: Sunday 24 July 16 Singapore Botanic Gardens & Chinatown
To avoid the heat of the day we will make an early start this morning to visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens and National Orchid Garden.
Established in 1859, the Singapore Botanic Gardens are 74 ha (183 acres) of gardens and parkland. A meticulously maintained landscape of themed tropical displays, the gardens grow approximately 3,000 species of tropical and subtropical flora.
Initially, the botanic gardens played a key role in the acclimatization of economic crops in Asia, such as rubber, researching new techniques in cultivation and harvesting under the direction of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (England). Singapore Botanic Gardens improved the quality of rubber sap, its harvesting and conversion into latex.
Under the Directorship of Professor Richard Holttum from 1925 to 1954, the Singapore Botanical Gardens improved to become one of the world’s finest in terms of its aesthetic appeal, the value of the scientific collections, botanical research and the initiation of the orchid garden. In retirement, Professor Holttum mentored Jerry’s studies in botany at Kew Gardens in England (1979-1982). In 1953, Professor Holttum published ‘Gardening in the Lowlands of Malaya’, condensing 30 years of garden development into the first proper guide for the home gardener – “Lowland gardening… is an all-the-year-round job… because nature (whether as friend or enemy) works quickly in our warm, humid climate”.
Singapore Botanic Gardens are one of only three botanic gardens in the world that have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the other two being the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and the Padua Gardens in Italy. They are the only tropical garden to have received this honour.
The scenic landscape includes lakes, rolling lawns and display gardens including the National Orchid Garden as well as a vital remnant of pre-settlement primary rainforest. The latter includes over 300 native plant species, over half of which are now rare in Singapore.
The National Orchid Garden is the main attraction of these botanic gardens and is the legacy of an orchid-breeding program that began in 1928. Covering 3 ha, the garden grows 7,000 different orchids, including over 1,000 species, with approximately 600 different kinds in bloom at any one time. This is the largest tropical orchid garden on Earth and it has greatly enhanced the world’s market of orchids as cut flowers. Adjacent to the orchid garden is a Ginger Collection (the Zingiberaceae family). This recent addition has 1 ha dedicated to displaying 250 members of the ginger family used for food, perfumery, ornament and medicine. It’s another ‘world’s best’ garden, with pockets of shade, and well worth exploring.
Later this afternoon, after a chance to chill and relax at the hotel, we will venture into vibrant Chinatown. It has evolved considerably since the first Chinese migrants made this enclave their home. Filled with a myriad of shops and eateries, Chinatown is bursting with colour and exciting activities set against a backdrop of cultural heritage. This lively area is unmissable and is at its best in the cool of the evening. At the Chinese Medical Hall we will learn how traditional medicine helps to balance Yin and Yang. This ancient system uses medicinal plants, acupuncture, moxibustion (applying warmth from burning herbs to the skin), ‘tai chi’ and ‘tui na’.
After dinner at a local Chinese restaurant (meal at own expense) we will wander along the narrow lanes of the Night Market – where you can test your bargaining skills – before taking a trishaw ride through the alleyways of Chinatown down to Clarke Quay. Transfer back to the hotel.
Meal included: Breakfast
Day 4: Monday 25 July 2016 Singapore Garden Festival
After breakfast, the Parkroyal on Pickering have offered to give our group a tour of the gardens for which they are renowned: massive sky-gardens drape the glassy towers with copses of frangipani and palms at every fourth level. Foliage plants flourish throughout the interior, helping to cool and cleanse the air. The hotel is full of eco-friendly features from solar powered systems to rain harvesting to conserve potable water.
After the tour, we will transfer back to the Gardens by the Bay to visit the Singapore Garden Festival.
The Singapore Garden Festival is a biennial garden and flower extravaganza, a showcase of some of the world’s best landscape designers, gardeners and floral artists.
Growing from strength to strength since the inaugural festival in 2006, the Singapore Garden Festival is widely acknowledged as the world’s premiere tropical garden expo.
Highlights of the sixth installment of the festival will include ‘Landscape and Fantasy Gardens’; ‘Balcony Gardens’; ‘Floral Windows to the World’ and, naturally, the latest and best orchid releases at the Singapore Orchid Show.
We’ve allowed a full day for the festival, however you are free to leave the group at any time should you wish to return to the hotel for some rest and relaxation, or to take advantage of some last-minute shopping opportunities along Orchard Road.
At an agreed time this evening, we will meet in the hotel lobby before transferring to the Long Bar at the iconic Raffles Hotel. It is here that we’ll raise our glasses with Jerry and enjoy some farewell drinks, possibly including Singapore Slings, Singapore’s own gin-based cocktail (drinks are at own expense). As the saying goes: ‘If you haven’t been to Raffles, you haven’t been to Singapore’. Cheers!
You will be returned to your hotel by 10:00pm, however the night owls who’d like to party on at the bar can easily catch a taxi back to the hotel (taxi at own expense).
NOTE: Dress code to the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel is casual or smart casual – pool attire is not permitted.
Meal included: Breakfast
Day 5: Tuesday 26 July 2016 Depart Singapore
After breakfast this morning you will be transferred from the hotel to the airport for your flight back to Australia, or onward journey.
0940: Depart Singapore on Singapore Airlines flight SQ 245
1930: Arrive Brisbane
Meal included: Breakfast
PLEASE NOTE Additional accommodation & touring in Singapore, and beyond, as well as late check-out of the Park Royal on Pickering can be arranged by The Adventure Traveller if required – please enquire for the cost.
Twin Share: $ 2,670 per person (plus flights)
Single Room: $ 3,460 per person (plus flights)
(Minimum 6 / Maximum 20 in the group, plus Jerry)
* 4-night hotel accommodation as listed;
* 4 hotel breakfasts per person as listed (B = breakfast);
* Return airport transfers on a private basis, including private coach with driver and local English speaking guide (based on all passengers sharing same airport transfers);
* Sightseeing as per itinerary, including private coach with driver, local English speaking guide;
* All entrance fees, when applicable, as per itinerary;
* One standard size luggage per person during the return airport transfers;
* Luggage van
* Surcharges for additional use of coach and guide outside the proposed itinerary
* Lunches and dinners
* Visa to Singapore (if applicable)
* Travel Insurance
* Expenses of personal nature such as minibar, telephone/fax/email/internet costs, video/camera fees, medical costs, laundry etc.
* Any other services not mentioned above
The maximum group size will not exceed 20 people (plus Jerry). The Adventure Traveller has already had some interest in the trip so hopefully we’ll reach the minimum numbers fairly quickly.
At the time of posting, the suggested Brisbane-Singapore-Brisbane flights with Singapore Airlines is quoting at $1,043.36 including tax per person (subject to availability). Prices of flights from other cities in Australia – as well as to destinations beyond Singapore with a stopover in the ‘Garden City’ to coincide with Jerry’s tour – can be provided upon application.
A deposit of $600 per person would be required to secure your spot on the tour and The Adventure Traveller suggests that flights are paid in full as soon as minimum numbers are reached. The balance of payments would be due 60 days before departure.
If you have any questions, or want to make a booking, please contact Devin Hunt at The Adventure Traveller, 197 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington, QLD 4064.
Ph: (07) 3369-0799