Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

New orchid Aranda Lee Kuan Yew named in honour of Singapore's 'Chief Gardener'

A new specimen of orchid has been christened the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew in honour of the late former Prime Minister.

The bright golden yellow flower, with a green tinge, is from the same line that yielded one named for his beloved wife, the Vanda Kwa Geok Choo.

The new orchid was presented to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday in honour of Mr Lee by NParks chief executive Kenneth Er and National Orchid Gardens nursery manager David Lim.

NParks staff have been looking for some time for a suitable orchid hybrid to name after Mr Lee, that would fit his tastes and befit the man who National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan called Singapore's "Chief Gardener".

Mr Khaw wrote on his blog: "It would have been wonderful if we had the opportunity to present the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew to Mr Lee himself. It was not meant to be. I am certain Mr Lee would have loved the flowers."

He added: "Ironically, Aranda Lee Kuan Yew has just flowered and will remain in flower for the next two to three weeks."

The public can view it in Parliament House when Mr Lee's body lies in state until Saturday.

The hybrid is a cross between a native orchid, the arachnis hookeriana, and an orchid from Hawaii - from the same line as that named after Mr Lee's wife, who died in 2010.

The Aranda Lee Kuan Yew's petals are bright greenish golden yellow with light tessellations and a tinge of white at the base. Each bloom is complemented by a contrasting light brown waxy lip.

Singapore Botanic Gardens manager Teo Chan Seng, 62, said yesterday that Mr Lee had often visited in the evenings, and liked the fragrant flowers the best.

Every so often, Mr Lee would bring his Chinese language tutor to chat about the flower names in Mandarin. The last time Mr Teo saw him was in early 2012, he said.

CHARISSA YONG