SINGAPORE - Since the new Jurong Eco-Garden opened last Sunday, it has drawn a steady stream of visitors, such as parents with their children, senior citizens and bird watchers, eager to explore its freshwater swamp, streams and walking trails.Ms Trixie Tan, 50, a member of the Nature Society of Singapore’s conservation committee, was at the garden for the first time on Wednesday, along with fellow bird-watching enthusiasts from the society. “I want to get a feel of the garden,” she says. “This will become a good place for bird-watching as more species appear.”If Mr Leow Thiam Seng, 47, director of JTC’s Aerospace, Marine & CleanTech cluster, has his way, there will be even more visitors such as Ms Tan as he hopes to see more community involvement within the garden.“By designing Jurong Eco-Garden to be open and accessible, we want more people to visit and participate in future activities here. It will increase ownership of the garden among the community,” says Mr Leow, who oversees the development of CleanTech Park.The eco-garden, a project by JTC Corp, is located at CleanTech Park. The eco-business facility next to the Nanyang Technological University is a development of sustainable solutions. Jurong Eco-Garden’s design represents a first for a garden in an industrial park in Singapore.It sits on what was once a secondary forest, and boasts 5ha of lush greenery and various wildlife, such as butterflies and migratory birds.The garden is spread out over four main zones: the Summit Forest, the Wildlife Corridor, the Stream Ravine and the Freshwater Swamp Forest.Life! shows you the points of interest to check out.
Summit Lookout: From 23m above the ground, take in a sprawling view of the 5ha park from its highest point. Visitors can get a good workout by climbing 58 steps to the lookout. The rocks that make up the summit’s lookout tower were excavated from the Jurong Rock Caverns, which are located at a depth of 130m beneath Banyan Basin on Jurong Island, and are 200 million years old.
Freshwater Swamp: The 4,772 sq m swamp was an existing water body before the creation of the garden. It is located in the first man-made freshwater swamp forest in Singapore. The swamp is a water source for the 140 or so species of birds, butterflies and insects living in the garden. It also serves as a central retention pond for storm water and captures about 65 per cent of the run-off, which is then recycled for activities such as plant irrigation and outdoor washing within Jurong Eco-Garden.
Butterfly Garden: At least 26 different species of butterflies can be found in this 1,066 sq m space. Three are of conservation interest – the Blue Helen (above), Common Birdwing and Dwarf Crow. Different plants cater to different species of butterflies, providing nectar or homes for the caterpillars. For example, the Pagoda Flower attracts the Common Birdwing.
Birds: They fly in from the surrounding forest to take a drink and a quick dip in the freshwater swamp. Three have been identified as endangered: the Red Junglefowl, Straw-headed Bulbul (above) and Oriental Pied Hornbill. The birds live here throughout the year. Look out for migratory birds from around September and October, though some, such as the Common Sandpiper, may visit from as early as July.
Sculpture Art: There are two sculptures that were specially commissioned for the garden and both are inspired by themes of the environment and sustainability. Another Way To Perceive The Rain Of The Forest can be found near the butterfly garden. Five Singaporean sculptors, Yeo Chee Kiong, Tay Swee Siong, Lim Soo Ngee, Chua Boon Kee and Baet Yeok Kuan, collaborated to create the 3m-tall sculpture inspired by water and the cycle of life. The basaltic stones used were from the Jurong Rock Caverns.
Sculpture art: In the Summit Forest is a sculptural installation by ceramic artist Steven Low. Called Sculpted Maze (above), it was created from clay that came from CleanTech Park and was fired in the Thow Kwang Dragon Kiln, which is located in the garden. It is inspired by earth fragments eroded by water and wind.
Composting Station: JTC Corporation has included this feature to educate visitors about the composting process, where horticulture waste generated in the garden is converted into organic resources. The composting station is located in the Stream Ravine sector, near the butterfly garden. The composting barrels are separated into different hand tumblers based on a time period of 12 weeks. The barrels can be opened to view the soil, leaves and dead materials inside. Wet material made of vegetables, fruits and garden waste and dry material made of dry leaves, weeds and twigs are added to the barrels to start the composting process.
Ficus Lookout: Aside from the Summit Lookout, there is the Ficus Lookout point (above), where visitors can enjoy an aerial view of the freshwater swamp and the biodiversity in and around it. Located in the central area of the garden, it is called the Ficus Lookout as it is situated next to a big ficus tree. It is also above the wildlife corridor, a 15m-wide underpass that serves as an animal crossing for wildlife such as the White-throated Kingfisher and the Green-crested Lizard.
Pottery kilns: The garden is home to the last two dragon kilns in Singapore. At Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle (above), visitors can watch the firing of the 40m-long Thow Kwang Dragon Kiln. Firings are organised two to three times a year. The next ones are scheduled for September and November. Go to facebook. com/tkpotteryjungle or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings.
Pottery kilns: Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Guan Huat Dragon Kiln, which is at the Jalan Bahar Clay Studios and was formerly used for firing, has a serpent-like shape that stretches 43m. There is an open house every month. Go to jbcssg.com for details. Jalan Bahar Clay Studios is open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 5pm.