Gardens in full bloom: Singapore Garden Festival has something for everyone

Participants from the South-west district dress up the Carnival By The Bay display as part of the Community In Bloom Gardeners' Cup competition. This year's theme is titled Fiesta and each team has to set up displays that evoke one of five senses. Fl
Participants from the South-west district dress up the Carnival By The Bay display as part of the Community In Bloom Gardeners' Cup competition. This year's theme is titled Fiesta and each team has to set up displays that evoke one of five senses. Floral designer Tan Han Xiang (above centre), 27, works on his display, Miracle Dining Table, for the Celebrations! Floral Table series. Senior horticulture officer Keith Lin Shihong (above), 28, adds plants to a colourful display which lines the walkway to the Landscape Gardens section at the festival. Ms Josephine Khoo (right), 42, puts the finishing touches on the display, Reflection Of Autumn, which is part of the Floral Windows To The World segment. Mr Velan Thirumurugan (left), 30, waters the plants in the fantasy garden by Ms Kate Hillier and Mr Dan Rutherford. Titled Winter Illusion, the work by the award-winning designers from New Zealand has a garden-within-a-garden theme.
Participants from the South-west district dress up the Carnival By The Bay display as part of the Community In Bloom Gardeners' Cup competition. This year's theme is titled Fiesta and each team has to set up displays that evoke one of five senses. Fl
Participants from the South-west district dress up the Carnival By The Bay display as part of the Community In Bloom Gardeners' Cup competition. This year's theme is titled Fiesta and each team has to set up displays that evoke one of five senses. Floral designer Tan Han Xiang (above centre), 27, works on his display, Miracle Dining Table, for the Celebrations! Floral Table series. Senior horticulture officer Keith Lin Shihong (above), 28, adds plants to a colourful display which lines the walkway to the Landscape Gardens section at the festival. Ms Josephine Khoo (right), 42, puts the finishing touches on the display, Reflection Of Autumn, which is part of the Floral Windows To The World segment. Mr Velan Thirumurugan (left), 30, waters the plants in the fantasy garden by Ms Kate Hillier and Mr Dan Rutherford. Titled Winter Illusion, the work by the award-winning designers from New Zealand has a garden-within-a-garden theme.
Participants from the South-west district dress up the Carnival By The Bay display as part of the Community In Bloom Gardeners' Cup competition. This year's theme is titled Fiesta and each team has to set up displays that evoke one of five senses. Fl
Participants from the South-west district dress up the Carnival By The Bay display as part of the Community In Bloom Gardeners' Cup competition. This year's theme is titled Fiesta and each team has to set up displays that evoke one of five senses. Floral designer Tan Han Xiang (above centre), 27, works on his display, Miracle Dining Table, for the Celebrations! Floral Table series. Senior horticulture officer Keith Lin Shihong (above), 28, adds plants to a colourful display which lines the walkway to the Landscape Gardens section at the festival. Ms Josephine Khoo (right), 42, puts the finishing touches on the display, Reflection Of Autumn, which is part of the Floral Windows To The World segment. Mr Velan Thirumurugan (left), 30, waters the plants in the fantasy garden by Ms Kate Hillier and Mr Dan Rutherford. Titled Winter Illusion, the work by the award-winning designers from New Zealand has a garden-within-a-garden theme.
Participants from the South-west district dress up the Carnival By The Bay display as part of the Community In Bloom Gardeners' Cup competition. This year's theme is titled Fiesta and each team has to set up displays that evoke one of five senses. Fl
Participants from the South-west district dress up the Carnival By The Bay display as part of the Community In Bloom Gardeners' Cup competition. This year's theme is titled Fiesta and each team has to set up displays that evoke one of five senses. Floral designer Tan Han Xiang (above centre), 27, works on his display, Miracle Dining Table, for the Celebrations! Floral Table series. Senior horticulture officer Keith Lin Shihong (above), 28, adds plants to a colourful display which lines the walkway to the Landscape Gardens section at the festival. Ms Josephine Khoo (right), 42, puts the finishing touches on the display, Reflection Of Autumn, which is part of the Floral Windows To The World segment. Mr Velan Thirumurugan (left), 30, waters the plants in the fantasy garden by Ms Kate Hillier and Mr Dan Rutherford. Titled Winter Illusion, the work by the award-winning designers from New Zealand has a garden-within-a-garden theme.
Participants from the South-west district dress up the Carnival By The Bay display as part of the Community In Bloom Gardeners' Cup competition. This year's theme is titled Fiesta and each team has to set up displays that evoke one of five senses. Fl
Participants from the South-west district dress up the Carnival By The Bay display as part of the Community In Bloom Gardeners' Cup competition. This year's theme is titled Fiesta and each team has to set up displays that evoke one of five senses. Floral designer Tan Han Xiang (above centre), 27, works on his display, Miracle Dining Table, for the Celebrations! Floral Table series. Senior horticulture officer Keith Lin Shihong (above), 28, adds plants to a colourful display which lines the walkway to the Landscape Gardens section at the festival. Ms Josephine Khoo (right), 42, puts the finishing touches on the display, Reflection Of Autumn, which is part of the Floral Windows To The World segment. Mr Velan Thirumurugan (left), 30, waters the plants in the fantasy garden by Ms Kate Hillier and Mr Dan Rutherford. Titled Winter Illusion, the work by the award-winning designers from New Zealand has a garden-within-a-garden theme.
The tower is part of the Orchid Extravaganza, which is held in the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The tower is part of the Orchid Extravaganza, which is held in the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The 10m-tall column is filled with 18,000 orchids of every imaginable shade to reflect a rainbow spectrum. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The 10m-tall column is filled with 18,000 orchids of every imaginable shade to reflect a rainbow spectrum. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
A Garden Of Hers, a gothic creation by home-grown award-winning landscape designer Damien Tang, has arched garden architecture featuring stained glass and a misty waterfall. Plots in the Landscape Gardens category include British Andy Sturgeon's Full
A Garden Of Hers, a gothic creation by home-grown award-winning landscape designer Damien Tang, has arched garden architecture featuring stained glass and a misty waterfall. Plots in the Landscape Gardens category include British Andy Sturgeon's Full Circle? (left), American Joe Palimeno's Layered Spaces (top) and Australian Jim Fogarty's Australasia (above).PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The Central district team's Touch The Heart garden (above), which won the Best Theme Award, has a huge heart structure.
The Central district team's Touch The Heart garden (above), which won the Best Theme Award, has a huge heart structure.
Children will love the Learning Garden, which is set up like a home garden plot and features vegetables and fruit such as the golden papaya (right).
Children will love the Learning Garden, which is set up like a home garden plot and features vegetables and fruit such as the golden papaya (right).
A Garden Of Hers, a gothic creation by home-grown award-winning landscape designer Damien Tang, has arched garden architecture featuring stained glass and a misty waterfall. Plots in the Landscape Gardens category include British Andy Sturgeon's Full
A Garden Of Hers, a gothic creation by home-grown award-winning landscape designer Damien Tang, has arched garden architecture featuring stained glass and a misty waterfall. Plots in the Landscape Gardens category include British Andy Sturgeon's Full Circle? (left), American Joe Palimeno's Layered Spaces (top) and Australian Jim Fogarty's Australasia (above).PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
A Garden Of Hers, a gothic creation by home-grown award-winning landscape designer Damien Tang, has arched garden architecture featuring stained glass and a misty waterfall. Plots in the Landscape Gardens category include British Andy Sturgeon's Full
A Garden Of Hers, a gothic creation by home-grown award-winning landscape designer Damien Tang, has arched garden architecture featuring stained glass and a misty waterfall. Plots in the Landscape Gardens category include British Andy Sturgeon's Full Circle? (left), American Joe Palimeno's Layered Spaces (top) and Australian Jim Fogarty's Australasia (above).PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
A Garden Of Hers, a gothic creation by home-grown award-winning landscape designer Damien Tang, has arched garden architecture featuring stained glass and a misty waterfall. Plots in the Landscape Gardens category include British Andy Sturgeon's Full
A Garden Of Hers, a gothic creation by home-grown award-winning landscape designer Damien Tang, has arched garden architecture featuring stained glass and a misty waterfall. Plots in the Landscape Gardens category include British Andy Sturgeon's Full Circle? (left), American Joe Palimeno's Layered Spaces (top) and Australian Jim Fogarty's Australasia (above).PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The Singapore Garden Festival, which opens today, has something for everyone, from gardens designed by professionals to a garden for kids

The show gardens have been primped, the flower installations misted and the carnival- themed props set up - all ready to welcome visitors today for the start of the Singapore Garden Festival.

Part of the excitement bubbling at the return of the biennial show is the new venue. Held for the first time at Gardens by the Bay, the fifth edition of the festival spans 2.2ha at the Marina Bay attraction. The festival was previously held indoors at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Festival deputy director Dennis Lim, 41, says: "Gardens by the Bay provides a natural hosting venue to showcase the best of tropical garden and floral artistry.

"Visitors can also look forward to even more impressive structures as the new grounds allow for a greater height limit of up to 10m, as opposed to the previous indoor limit of 3m."

About 100,000 visitors are expected this year. Tickets range from $5 to $14 for local residents, and $12 to $18 for foreigners. The festival runs from 10am to 10pm till Aug 24. The Flower Dome, where the Orchid Extravaganza is held, opens at 9am.

Mr Lim is excited the festival has come of age, given that many international designers now want to be part of it. Competitive participation is by invitation only.

This year, 28 out of 32 participants in the Landscape and Fantasy Gardens categories and Floral competitions are taking part in the festival for the first time.

Given the interest from around the globe, Mr Lim says: "This is a testament to how the festival has attained a high level of international standing...

"We have had designers requesting to be in the show, with many referring to it as the Olympics of the tropical gardening world."

Gardening enthusiasts, shutterbugs and families will be excited at the stunning displays.

From show gardens by landscape designers to talks by gardening experts, the nine-day event promises something for everyone.

natashaz@sph.com.sg

The Straits Times is the official media partner of the Singapore Garden Festival 2014.


Learning Garden

This one is for the little tykes or those who are keen to learn about how certain types of plants grow.

The small plot of land, which is at The Meadow near the Balcony Gardens and the Gardeners' Cup set-up, was created by the National Parks Board (NParks) and part of the General Displays section.

Featuring herbs such as holy basil and vegetables such as pumpkin and brinjal, the garden is meant to explain how enthnobotany - which studies the relationship between people and plants - work. Set up like a home garden plot, children can run through the little pathways.

After you are done exploring, head to the nearby Share A Plant Container Garden Competition.

Earlier this year, NParks launched the project to mark the return of the Singapore Garden Festival and to promote the appreciation of plants and gardening among Singaporeans.

About 5,000 plants such as the Peperomia obtusifolia, Asplenium Osaka and Syngonium podophyllum were distributed across five gardens and parks in May. Those who received a plant were encouraged to share their green loot by posting on social media with the hashtag #shareaplant.

Now, the recipients have been asked to bring back the plants, after they have decorated or arranged it creatively.

A panel of judges will decide on the winners at the end of the festival. Award ribbons will be given out in categories such as the Most Creative Display and Best Plant Mix.


Community In Bloom Gardeners' Cup 2014

This friendly gardening competition, into its third edition, allows amateur gardeners to show off their green thumbs.

This year saw teams from residents' committes, schools, companies and housing estates.

The five teams were divided according to their districts - North-west, South-west, South-east, North-east and Central. Working with the theme Fiesta, each team had to evoke any one of the five senses.

In the results announced yesterday afternoon, Taste Fiesta by the North-east district emerged as the champion; Carnival By The Bay by South-west district won the Innovative Award; Sound Of

The Forest by North-west district took the Biodiversity Award; Scent-alising by South-east district garnered the Educational Award; and Touch The Heart by Central district took home the Best Theme Award.

Each team had to conceptualise, design and grow plants to create a patch of garden. The collective garden area is in the General Displays section.

For example, the South-east team which includes participants from Bedok View Secondary School, Tanjong Katong Neighbourhood Committee, Limau Estate Neighbourhood Committee and Temasek Secondary School, among others, created a scent garden.

The Central district team's Touch The Heart garden stands out for its huge heart structure built into the layout. Its designers also wrote touching messages on pebbles in the ponds.

The gardeners were awarded prizes by a four-member judging panel which included chief judge John Tan, president of the Singapore Gardening Society, and Mr Ng Cheow Kheng, director of the National Parks Board's horticulture and community gardening division.


Landscape and Fantasy Gardens

The festival's creme de la creme is undeniably its show gardens. Here, professional landscape designers let their imagination run wild as they create the ultimate landscape and fantasy gardens, which feature cascading waterfalls, courtyards and, of course, brilliant plant species.

The festival's show garden competition is one of the most hotly contested in the world. It has 15 entries - eight in the landscape garden category and seven in the fantasy garden one.

Designers from around the globe, including Singapore, have to be invited to take part and work with a local company to do up their garden. This year, 12 out of the 15 designers are foreigners.

The organisers declined to reveal the budget provided for each temporary garden structure, which measures about 81 sq m.

In the 2012 edition, each show garden cost about $100,000. The cost this year is partly paid for by the organisers and the rest are through sponsorships acquired by the participating designers.

All the gardens will be awarded either gold, silver or bronze. In each category, one garden will clinch the Best of Show award, which is the top honour. There are also awards for best construction, horticulture excellence and best outdoor/ indoor lighting. The winners were announced yesterday afternoon.

The eight landscape gardens surround a tented pavilion, which is constructed around the seven fantasy gardens.

Some of the biggest names in the gardening world, such as British designer Andy Sturgeon and American Michael Petrie, are showcasing their creations.

Australian landscape designer and media personality Jim Fogarty, who won the Silver-Gilt medal at the 2004 Chelsea Flower Show in London, puts on a display inspired by Australasia, the region which includes Australia, New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

His showpiece pairs Eastern design influences with the look of Australian gardens. For example, the outdoor eating area is inspired by teahouses in Eastern cultures. His work won a gold award and the horticulture excellence award in the landscape category.

Award-winning garden designers Kate Hillier and Dan Rutherford from New Zealand have teamed up to bring the chill to sunny Singapore.

Their Winter Illusion creation, which won a silver award in the fantasy category, is based on a garden-in-a-garden concept. A tropical, wild garden envelop an English-styled one, which can be seen through a clever play using mirror reflections. The English garden also appears to be blanketed in snow.

Also, look out for home-grown designers. In the landscape category, Mr Vincent Chia explores how man can live in harmony with animals and plants while Ms Srilalitha Gopal shows how nature integrates itself with the urban landscape.

Mr Damien Tang, a previous multiple award-winner at this festival, puts on a spectacular gothic creation - A Garden Of Hers has arched garden architecture featuring stained glass and a waterfall.


Orchid Extravaganza

The orchid gets its day in the sun with Japanese landscape architect Jun-ichi Inada's kaleidoscope tower. The 10m-tall column is filled with 18,000 orchids of every imaginable shade to reflect a rainbow spectrum.

Mr Inada, 62, managing director of landscape consultants Win Landscape Planning & Design in Japan, says he was inspired by memories of playing with a kaleidoscope as a child.

The tower is part of the Orchid Extravaganza, which is held in the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay. Apart from the centrepiece tower display, there will be orchids adorning an arched walkway. This extravaganza will run till Sept 21 instead of Aug 24, when the Singapore Garden Festival ends.

In an interview with Life! when he was in town last month, Mr Inada says he hopes visitors will see the fragile flower in a different light, given that the national flower of Singapore is an orchid and that many Singaporeans would be familiar with it. "There're orchids everywhere in Singapore, so it's not an easy project," says Mr Inada, who won the Grand Prix Award by the Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture in 2004.

He adds that he played with "variety, volume and colour of the orchids" to create the display.

With its colourful arrangement, the orchid tower is bound to be a hit with photography buffs.


Marketplace @ Supertree Grove

If the gardening bug bites as you are strolling through the festival grounds, head to the Marketplace @ Supertree Grove. Here, all your gardening and plant accessorising needs will be taken care of.

From practical tools to quirky offerings, more than 80 stalls hawk a wide array of plants, gardening and landscape products and services, as well as arts and crafts. There are both local and international sellers.

The marketplace starts once you exit The Meadow and is housed in sheltered areas near the hulking Supertrees and the OCBC Skyway.

Perhaps you can try your hand at growing orchids. Check out the blooms on offer at the numerous stalls such as Meidarland Orchids (Booth NC10), a seller from Taiwan which specialises in hybridised phalaenopsis, or Ecuagenera (Booth NC25), a grower and exporter of live orchids and exotic plants from Ecuador.

For gardening products, local company Tian Long Citronella Oil (Booth SC16) sells the liquid to help keep mosquitos away. Urban Farmer (Booth SC21) has starter kits for growing plants, which consist of natural soil, fertilisers and seedlings that can easily be grown at home.

Mr Andy Su, 68, owner of Meidarland Orchids who has taken part in every edition of the festival, is looking forward to the busy vibe.

"We come here every year because we have close ties with the orchid gardeners' community in Singapore. We'll wait and see if the new venue will bring in better business, but it's quite exciting."


Raining fun and colour

Photojournalist Lim Yaohui goes behind the scenes in the run-up to the opening of the Singapore Garden Festival at Gardens by the Bay

The photojournalist was a former horticulturist in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Send your comments to stlife@sph.com.sg