More orchids, bigger display area with $35 million enhancement to National Orchid Garden

ST VIDEO: SEOW BEI YI

SINGAPORE - Come 2019, visitors can enjoy more types of orchids in a bigger display area at the National Orchid Garden.

Called the Tropical Montane Orchidetum, the enhanced space will see a three-fold increase in display area. The project, which combines three current exhibits, is expected to cost about $35 million.

It aims to recreate the experience of ascending a tropical montane forest with its showcase of orchids and other plants, including bromeliads, gingers, and magnolias. A montane forest, also known as cloud forest, describes a terrain found in mountainous areas, and is not found in Singapore.

Visitors will walk through a "secret ravine", with a surrounding temperature of 24 deg C to 26 deg C, from the forest zones of the Yuen Peng McNeice Bromeliad House to the tropical garden in the Tan Hoon Siang Mist House. From there, they can walk continuously into the cool tropical upper montane atmosphere of The Sembcorp Cool House.

"The enhancement works will allow us to strengthen the National Orchid Garden's capabilities in orchid breeding, orchid conservation, and research," said Minister for National Development Mr Lawrence Wong on Friday (June 30), at a ceremony marking the start of the works, which will begin from July 10.

While works are ongoing, visitors will still be able to view existing orchid species in refreshed displays at other parts of the garden.

There will also be an extension of the National Orchid Garden Nursery by 0.5 ha, and a new vantage point will allow visitors to get a glimpse of the back-of-house operations at the orchid garden.

Enhancements to the 22-year-old orchid garden are among the latest improvements to the Singapore Botanic Gardens over the years. This included a heritage museum and learning forest, said Mr Wong on Friday.

This time, for example, the existing 260 sqm Cool House - a temperature-controlled glasshouse - will be expanded by four times in display area to 1,100 sqm and be renamed The Sembcorp Cool House. It will emulate a high elevation montane forest, with systems that reduce at least 60 per cent of energy use compared to the current system.

The enhancements are partially funded by a $10 million donation by urban development group Sembcorp Industries - the largest single donation to the Garden City Fund to date.

Friday's event also marked the beginning of the annual Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Festival, which ends on July 9.