PICTURES, VIDEO

Istana to host guided nature walks during open houses from Saturday

An NParks staff brings members of the media around the Queen Victoria Garden during a special preview of a new guided walk. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
An NParks staff brings members of the media around the Queen Victoria Garden during a special preview of a new guided walk. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Queenstown Secondary School's Lim Wan Tong (foreground, second from right) and Elena Leong (centre, wearing spectacles) look at the fresh nutmeg held out by volunteer guide Bian Tan (extreme right) as he points out the flora and fauna at the Spice Te
Queenstown Secondary School's Lim Wan Tong (foreground, second from right) and Elena Leong (centre, wearing spectacles) look at the fresh nutmeg held out by volunteer guide Bian Tan (extreme right) as he points out the flora and fauna at the Spice Terrace to including students in a special preview of a new guided walk on Jan 28, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Volunteer guide Betty Wee students from Cedar Primary School, Queenstown Secondary School and West Spring Secondary School, as well as beneficiaries from the Association of Persons with Special Needs (APSN) Centre for Adults Horticulture Programme. -
Volunteer guide Betty Wee students from Cedar Primary School, Queenstown Secondary School and West Spring Secondary School, as well as beneficiaries from the Association of Persons with Special Needs (APSN) Centre for Adults Horticulture Programme. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
John Ngu, 27, (third from left) from the Association of Persons with Special Needs (APSN) Centre reacts after smelling the nutmeg in the plastic container held by Mrs Mary Tan (in yellow) as President Tony Tan Keng Yam (third from right) watches by t
John Ngu, 27, (third from left) from the Association of Persons with Special Needs (APSN) Centre reacts after smelling the nutmeg in the plastic container held by Mrs Mary Tan (in yellow) as President Tony Tan Keng Yam (third from right) watches by the side. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Volunteer guide Bian Tan (second from right) points out the flora and fauna at the Spice Terrace to including students in a special preview of a new guided walk on Jan 28, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Volunteer guide Bian Tan (second from right) points out the flora and fauna at the Spice Terrace to including students in a special preview of a new guided walk on Jan 28, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
President Tony Tan Keng Yam (foreground, second from right) and Mrs Mary Tan (in yellow) join some 30 people, including students from Cedar Primary School, Queenstown Secondary School and West Spring Secondary School, as well as beneficiaries from th
President Tony Tan Keng Yam (foreground, second from right) and Mrs Mary Tan (in yellow) join some 30 people, including students from Cedar Primary School, Queenstown Secondary School and West Spring Secondary School, as well as beneficiaries from the Association of Persons with Special Needs (APSN) Centre for Adults Horticulture Programme, look at a nutmeg tree in a special preview of a new guided walk - The Nature Guided Walk at the Istana, on Jan 28, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN]
President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mrs Mary Tan (in yellow) join some 30 people, including students from Cedar Primary School, Queenstown Secondary School and West Spring Secondary School, as well as beneficiaries from the Association of Persons with Sp
President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mrs Mary Tan (in yellow) join some 30 people, including students from Cedar Primary School, Queenstown Secondary School and West Spring Secondary School, as well as beneficiaries from the Association of Persons with Special Needs (APSN) Centre for Adults Horticulture Programme, look at bread flowers (foreground, top right corner) in a special preview of a new guided walk - The Nature Guided Walk at the Istana, on Jan 28, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

The Istana will host guided nature walks of its expansive grounds during open houses starting from Saturday.

Led by volunteer guides with the National Parks Board, members of the public will get to tour areas such as the Spice Terrace and Queen Victoria Garden while learning facts about the flora and fauna there. For example, the Istana has two resident Oriental Pied Hornbills, other birds such as the Lesser Whistling Duck and the Oriental Magpie Robin, and a Tembusu tree more than 150 years old.

Visitors will also get to hear intimate anecdotes about some of the species. The Bread Flower climber found within the grounds, for instance, was a favourite of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and his late wife because of its sweet fragrance.

On Tuesday, President Tony Tan Keng Yam hosted about 30 students and visitors on a special preview of the guided tour. The tours on Saturday's Chinese New Year open house will be held at half-hour intervals between 10am and 4pm. They are priced at $4 for Singapore citizens and permanent residents and $10 for other visitors. All proceeds will be donated to the Community Chest.

The Istana was built on the grounds of a former nutmeg plantation in 1867. Its grounds are home to about 10,000 trees.

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