Graham and Sandra Ross have just returned from a Singapore Fling to see the Super Trees. Are you planting a tree this Autumn? How about one of these?
We’ve just taken Ross travellers for a one week Sing-fling. We can’t get enough of that sultry weather, Singapore chilli crab, Raffles high tea, cold Tiger beer and those mind blowing billion dollar Super trees! Have you seen them? Smart phones, smart cars and now the world has 18 smart trees.
What a knockout! Welcome to the grove of bionic supertrees – it’s Steve Austin meets million dollar tree. They live within the 1.5 hectare Gardens by the Bay extravaganza. In fact Singapore is the only island in the world increasing in size (forget sea level rise!). By 2030 there will be an extra 100 square kilometres of land in Singapore, all reclaimed from the ocean.
The scope of this billion dollar exercise is phenomenal… the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest and the Supertree grove – all part of an investment in the horticultural and aesthetic appeal of the ‘new and improved’ garden city thanks to a truckload of cash from the Singapore government. Is it over-the-top? Yep it sure is, but we love it.
Bionic trees look like trees and act like trees.. but what are they? They’re made of four parts. The first is the tree core made of reinforced concrete. The second is the trunk. Next come the solar panels and last of all a branchlike web of iron and steel. The 18 trees stand between 25 to 50 metres tall and meshed with rockwool to support the growth of thousands of bromeliads, vines, philodendrons, ferns, orchids and begonias. They are simply beautiful. And each one slightly different. One has a restaurant on top, and three have elevators inside.
For the science nerds amongst us, here’s how it all works. Mind bending eh?
Bionic credentials? Eleven of the trees are fitted with solar panels catching sunlight and powering part of the business district nearby. The trees catch their own water and its used to irrigate the foliage, supply the waterfalls, top up ‘Dragonfly Lake’ and mimic the ways trees absorb rainwater. David Attenborough eat your heart out. They clean and cool the air around the super grove and also act as air ducts for the two conservatories. And they’re growing fast – the plants have almost covered their structures in less than 2 years.
Like a light show? At night they power themselves and pulse with mauve and lilac light. We recommend walking the 125 metre skywalk from tree to tree at 7pm while watching the sun go down.
We must have taken hundreds of photos! (And yes the spaceship is the new hotel Marina Bay Sands) But it does have an amazing infinity pool.
Here’s the outside of the Cloud Forest and now for the inside… drum roll please.
Gobsmackingly gorgeous (there I said it!) is the only way to describe the Cloud Forest, one of two glasshouses (biomes) that stand together to the side of the supertrees. This is the jewel in Singapore’s crown. Don’t miss the gentle climb to the top, in fact I would keep two hours aside just for this biome alone. Everyone can enjoy the scenery in THIS cloud forest, it’s the only mountain I know with an internal lift. Shed any preconceived ideas of a garden-variety-run-of-the-mill glasshouse, this one stands 1000m tall, is covered with thousands panes of curved glass and is the size of 1.5 football fields. Whacky do!
It’s a botanical ascent with a wonderland of tropical treasures: rhododendrons, orchids, begonias, cascades of the much-desired Medinilla magnifica with its sprays of pink grape-like flowers, elephant ears and black heart-shaped anthirriums and ferns spilling from the rock face. Shrouded in mist and sprayed with cool waterfall water, (beam me up Scotty) I was instantly transported to a high altitude rainforest in Sabah.
We were soaked by the spray of the waterfall, yes all 35 metres of it. Quite a refreshing change to the Singapore humidity outside. Exhilarating.
You’d think I’d had my fill of tropical moth orchids (and the adorable blue nodding violets) but I can’t wait to get home and grow more of them. In Singapore they are everywhere – pinned onto trunks, arches and loving life in the green walls. In Sydney I will tie them to trees outdoors in morning sunshine, and hang them in vintage bird cages on my veranda from November to March, then I’ll bring them in for winter… I will surround myself with the flowers of Singapore.
So hands up who loves Singapore?
Headed for a Singapore Stopover? The Singapore government is so keen to get you into the spirit they offer a city tour whilst you’re still in transit – leaves from the airport and takes you back to meet your next flight. How cool is that.
Photos thanks to Roslyn Willis, Linda Ross, Robin Powell and just a few from Shutterstock 🙂 (Nadezhdal906, TaMaNKung,Joyfull, Lee Yiu Tung, tristan Tan)
Fancy a Fling? Come with us to Singapore (18-24 August)
Get a discount on all tours, Access to Expert Advice, A Magazine Every Season, A Free Garden Class Or Workshop, 10% Discount At Nursery Partners, Access Our Online Database And Magazine Archive And Special Events For Members Only