Journey of a tembusu

The tree being taken on a lorry crane to a holding area, part of which will be converted into the future Bidadari Park.
The tree being taken on a lorry crane to a holding area, part of which will be converted into the future Bidadari Park.PHOTO: NPARKS

For more than 50 years, a tembusu tree stood at Bidadari Cemetery, growing to about 13m in height and 2.5m in girth.

But in 2015, it had to move as its original site was making way for a new housing estate.

National Parks Board experts decided that the tembusu tree was worth saving due to its age, and because its good health made it suitable for transplanting.

A year before the move, they carefully dug a trench around the tree's main root area to prepare it for transplantation.

Branches were pruned to make the tree easier to move and manage water loss. The trench was then filled with sand and the tree was given extra structural support using stakes and guy-lines.

In April 2015, a lorry crane transported the tree 500m away to a holding area near Mount Vernon Columbarium.

The 3.5ha area, which is closed to the public, is home to some 160 trees - including mango, angsana and cassia fistula - that were salvaged from the Bidadari area.

Part of it will eventually be converted into a public park. While some of the salvaged trees will be replanted in other neighbourhoods, others are there to stay, such as the tembusu tree.

An HDB spokesman said: "We will create a new Bidadari Park and we are identifying the trees worth preserving. Trees which are not healthy or pose a danger to the public, such as storm-vulnerable species, will be replaced so that they do not pose a danger to the public.

"We will add more trees to create the park. Those trees within Bidadari identified as safe for keeping will be transplanted into the future Bidadari Park."

Toh Wen Li

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 19, 2017, with the headline 'Journey of a tembusu'. Print Edition | Subscribe