Mature trees get new lease of life by the Bay

Transplants saved from bulldozers now stand proud at the Gardens

The next time you visit Gardens by the Bay, take a closer look at some of the trees there.

The leisure destination has quietly added to the already rich variety there by transplanting some 2,000 mature trees from other parts of the island. Otherwise, they could have been lost to infrastructure and development works.

Among them are more than 10 frangipani trees saved in 2008 from the former Bidadari Cemetery, which has been slated for development as a new housing estate.

The 80-year-old, 5m-tall trees are now flourishing at the Colonial Garden and Malay Garden.

Last month, Gardens by the Bay took in two 12m-tall, 20-year-old angsana trees from Serangoon Road. They have been replanted near the food centre, Satay by the Bay.

The Gardens' deputy director for plant introduction and health, Mr Anton van der Schans, said the rehoming not only gives the trees a new lease of life, but also helps the Gardens to mature and flourish as well.

"The salvaged trees help to give Gardens by the Bay, which is just over two years old, the look of being more established. We have managed to impart a patina of age to our landscape in short order," he said.

He noted that having a greater diversity of flora there provides more habitats for the growing variety of birds, butterflies and dragonflies.

Some of the trees are providing other services. For instance, the Cannonball trees from Upper Cross Street are being used to tell the story of fruit and flowers at the World of Plants section.

Gardens by the Bay works with government agencies to save trees in Singapore, but it has also reached out farther afield.

Its oldest transplants are several olive trees that date back more than a thousand years, brought here from a site in Spain that was slated for development.

The trees are now at the Flower Dome, one of the two conservatories at the Gardens.

Environmentalists here lauded this initiative by the Gardens, but said more should have been done to keep the trees where they were.

Nature Society president Shawn Lum said: "The trees literally have roots and belong to their communities. It would be a shame if the Gardens' work became a convenient excuse for developers not to try harder to keep the trees where they were."

zengkun@sph.com.sg