Transplanting massive rain trees as part of Civic District rejuventation

Workers in the final stages of transplanting one of the eight mature rain trees, each about 40 years old, into the new lawn in front of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Workers in the final stages of transplanting one of the eight mature rain trees, each about 40 years old, into the new lawn in front of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

SINGAPORE - Transplanting eight massive rain trees to the new lawn in front of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall is one of the ambitious efforts involved in rejuvenating the Civic District.

"The process of transplanting these gigantic trees is an engineering feat," said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in a blog post on Thursday. He noted that seven of the eight mature trees - each weighing over 90 tons - have been successfully transplanted already, and linking to a National Parks Board video of transplant operations. https://youtu.be/A6yRo_jV_CU

"This morning, we are moving in Rain Tree Number 8. Keeping our fingers crossed," he added.

The rain trees will frame and shade the new lawn, which is part of government efforts to pedestrianise the Civic District. Said Mr Khaw: "We are putting a lot of thought and passion into the rejuvenation of the Civic District. We want an integrated art, culture and lifestyle precinct set in a lush, green environment."

For instance, the nearby Esplanade Park used to be known as "gor zhang chiu kar", which is Hokkien for "under the shade of five trees". But the five angsana trees which gave it that name had to be removed in the 1990s after being afflicted by Fusarium wilt, a fungal disease.

But the old name will soon be revived. NParks horticulturalists have propagated new angsana trees that are genetically resistant to the disease. Five of these special trees will be transplanted into Esplanade Park "to recreate the old 'gor zhang chiu kar'", said Mr Khaw.

NParks has also been experimenting with new mixtures of fertiliser to improve the health and vigour of trees in the Esplanade Park and Empress Place area, with "good results".

New polypropylene structural cells are also being installed under roads and other paved surfaces, to provide trees with space to anchor their roots. This technology is being test-bedded to grow a new row of trees along Queen Elizabeth Walk.

The Civic District will also be brightened up with pigeon orchids and staghorn ferns being planted on trees, while "old favourites" such as the Mussaenda 'Queen Sirikit' flowering shrub, Thai gardenias and white frangipanis will be re-introduced.