Wander through the Singapore Botanic Gardens with ST's latest free e-book

Wander through the Gardens armed with ST's latest free and photo-rich e-book which delves into its Unesco journey, 157 year history, orchid hybrid programme, and iconic structures. It can be used as an educational tool in schools.
Wander through the Gardens armed with ST's latest free and photo-rich e-book which delves into its Unesco journey, 157 year history, orchid hybrid programme, and iconic structures. It can be used as an educational tool in schools. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES
Sir Henry Ridley, also known as Mad Ridley, often travelled with rubber seeds in his pocket. He developed the herringbone method of extraction, an incision pattern that allowed tappers to collect larger amounts of sap from a tree without damaging it.
Sir Henry Ridley, also known as Mad Ridley, often travelled with rubber seeds in his pocket. He developed the herringbone method of extraction, an incision pattern that allowed tappers to collect larger amounts of sap from a tree without damaging it. He features in the e-book chapter on the Gardens’ history.PHOTO: SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS
Merry makers parade in their holiday finery during Chinese New Year in 1959 as pictured in chapter five of the e-book - a section dedicated to the generations of visitors who have walked through the Gardens over the past 157 years.
Merry makers parade in their holiday finery during Chinese New Year in 1959 as pictured in chapter five of the e-book - a section dedicated to the generations of visitors who have walked through the Gardens over the past 157 years. PHOTO: ST FILE
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pictured with the Papilionanda William Catherine hybrid named in their honour in 2012. This features in chapter three of the e-book which tells the story of the birthplace of South-east Asia’s orchid industry.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pictured with the Papilionanda William Catherine hybrid named in their honour in 2012. This features in chapter three of the e-book which tells the story of the birthplace of South-east Asia’s orchid industry.PHOTO: ST FILE
The amegilla, pictured in the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden with a leea rubra shrub, features in the e-book’s wildlife photo gallery.
The amegilla, pictured in the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden with a leea rubra shrub, features in the e-book’s wildlife photo gallery. PHOTO: CRAIG WILLIAMS/ SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS/ NPARKS
Gardens’ director Dr Nigel Taylor pictured here with a recently discovered World War II air-raid shelter. It features in the e-book’s chapter on the Gardens’ iconic structures.
Gardens’ director Dr Nigel Taylor pictured here with a recently discovered World War II air-raid shelter. It features in the e-book’s chapter on the Gardens’ iconic structures. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

SINGAPORE - His pockets filled with rubber seeds, the Singapore Botanic Gardens' first scientific director Henry Ridley, also called "Mad Ridley", promoted the plant as an economic crop throughout the region.

He was given the nickname as a result of his avid advocacy.

The story goes that the name caught on following an encounter with a coffee planter in the Malay Peninsula one rainy day. The planter refused to believe Ridley when he shared that South American Indians had used the material to make their own waterproof boots.

Ridley's research into the crop including a rubber-tapping technique which extended the economic life of the tree, took place in the Gardens. This provided the conditions for their agro-industrial development and eventual distribution to South-east Asia and beyond from the late 1800s. This was one of two factors that earned the Gardens the status of a Unesco World Heritage Site on July 4 last year (2015).

The colourful life of Ridley is one of several historical gems that have been strung together in The Straits Times' latest e-book - Historic Gardens: Singapore's First Unesco World Heritage Site.

The free multimedia publication, which was launched on Monday (Feb 29), is available for free via The Straits Times Star e-books app for iPad or Android devices.

The e-book is divided into five chapters: the journey to Unesco; a walk through history; a haven for nature; a home to landmarks; and beloved by generations.

Said Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez: "We are all proud of Singapore's first Unesco site, and this e-book brings the fascinating story of this historic gardens to life for our readers.

"This e-book also showcases our efforts to serve our readers in a highly visual, multimedia fashion. We want to give readers yet another opportunity to experience our content across platforms for themselves."

Highlights from the first chapter include audio snippets from the World Heritage Committee's delegates, who praised Singapore's bid at the organisation's 39th session in Bonn, Germany.

The second chapter explores the foundations laid by its visionary managers and directors. This includes the development of the space into an English landscape gardens in the tropics, fulfilling a second Unesco criteria for having a historical landscape.

The next chapter features photo galleries of the Gardens' towering heritage trees, orchid hybrid stars and wildlife. The fourth showcases the Gardens' landmarks including its 1930 bandstand and World War II air-raid shelter.

The final section is dedicated to the generations of visitors who have walked through its grounds for the past 157 years.

The e-book can be downloaded through The Straits Times Star e-books app.

• Download "The Straits Times Star" via the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

• Open the app and go to "I'm just browsing".

• Download "Historic Gardens: Singapore's First Unesco World Heritage Site".

• The app is best downloaded via Wi-Fi and is available for iPad (not iPhones) and Android devices.