The earliest known greenhouse was built for Roman emperor Tiberius in around 30 A.D., because his beloved cucumber was to be grown all year. As glass wasn’t invented then, the small greenhouse, called a specularium, was painstakingly made out of translucent mica sheets and stone.
Of course, the idea of stepping into a typical greenhouse in Singapore is anathema as it may mean unbearable heat. That is why the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay is such a special place. It is a cool-dry conservatory (23°C -25°C and 60-80% humidity), mimicking a Mediterranean climate. Not only is it a comfortable place to visit, it also allows plants from Australia, South America and South Africa to grow. Spanning an area of 1.28 hectare, it is the world’s largest glass conservatory, earning a place in the Guinness World record.
Step in the Flower Dome and be overawed by the changing display of flowers and plants from the semi-arid regions of the world. It is a world of eternal spring as flowers from all over the world bloom in a cacophony of colours. The climate-controlled environment of the Flower Dome means that plants that normally bloom only once a year in their natural habitat can now flower almost all year round in tropical Singapore. Cherry blossoms, dahlias, tulips – flowers that otherwise cannot grow in the tropics are in full display because of the cooling technology employed in this conservatory.
Olive trees usually thrive in sub-tropical, Mediterranean climate. They grow best in mild winters and long, dry and warm summers. Optimum temperatures are between 26°C to 32°C. Yet, the Flower Dome presented an environment that fostered the grow of not just olive trees, but also to thrive in it. A century-old olive tree brought from Spain not only thrived in its new home, it even flowered and fruited in 2015. While here, look out for the 1000-year-old olive tree as well.
Equally impressive, the Baobabs are on permanent display here. Commonly known as the Bottle Trees, the Baobabs, with their enormous girths are certainly a spectacle. Because of their thick branches that resemble roots, they are also known as the “upside down trees”. The largest and tallest Baobab in the Flower Dome is the African Baobab, weighing more than 32 tonnes. Flowering at night, the African Baobabs have many uses: from building materials to medicines. No amount of description will do justice to this stupendous tree. You’ll have to see it for yourself.
Finally, a special mention is in order here. On display too, is an award-winning orchid species of the Grammatophyllum multiflorum var. tigrinum “Gardens by the Bay”. This is the first time this species of orchid is to receive the first-class certificate from the Orchid Society of South East Asia. This is made significant for only seven orchids have been presented the First Class Certificate in 93 years.
This orchid is recognized for its symmetrical shape and flowers for their intense colour and contrast. The five long arching inflorescences – of up to 2 meters – are well-adorned with flowers. When in full bloom, it will carry over 500 flowers!
A trip to the Flower Dome at the Gardens by the Bay is a truly worthwhile outing. Not only can you admire the beautiful variety of plants and flowers from a different climatic zone, you can also enjoy them in cool comfort. Do book ahead as visiting slots are limited due to Covid-19 restrictions. Yet, because of these restrictions you can enjoy the surroundings without the crowds! [Check out our article on the Cloud Forest Dome as well]
Sunday Shades is running a series of especially noteworthy parks, gardens and walks in Singapore. Whenever you’re out in sunny Singapore, be sure to put on a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the UV rays. Sunday Shades has a full range of sunglasses to suit every style and colours! The frames are made from strong polycarbonates and the lenses offer UV 400 protection and are polarized. They’re ultra-lightweight, don’t bounce and offer Asian-fit. Check them out today!