SINGAPORE - A new orchid display at Gardens by the Bay's Cloud Forest, showcasing more than 40 varieties of hybrids, opened on Thursday (Aug 4).
Titled Orchid Stories Of Singapore, it will run till Sept 4, and features both local and regional orchid hybrids whose lineages come from Singapore hybrids.
In addition to offering visitors a visual spectacle, the display also has a historical spin to it, featuring storyboards that describe Singapore's history with orchids.
Visitors will be able to learn how orchid collection began as a pastime for the upper classes in the 1800s, and how this progressed to the peak of orchid cultivation in Singapore from the 1950s to the 1980s. By the late 1990s, orchid production had become a multi-million dollar industry here.
Minister for National Development Desmond Lee launched the event by planting a Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid.
Ms Siti Nurziana Yacob, assistant manager of the Research and Horticulture department at Gardens by the Bay, said: "Orchids are a part of Singapore's heritage, and we hope that Singaporeans can be proud of the role that the flower has played in our history."
Among the hybrids being displayed is the Aranda Noorah Alsagoff, bred by Mr Syed Yusof Alsagoff, 87, a renowned orchid hybridiser who has bred almost 200 hybrids to date.
The hybrid was registered in 1972 and belongs to the collection of Alsagoff Arandas, a well-known group of hybrid orchids that earned acclaim for Singapore in the region.
Mr Yusof named the hybrid after his only daughter, Ms Noora Alsagoff, 50, who was present at the launch.
"To me, the flower is symbolic of my father's love," she said.
Ms Noora, a human resources executive, explained that her father had worked hard to produce the violet-blue shading of the hybrid, which is a "very precious and difficult colour to obtain".
Another notable orchid hybrid featured is the Papilionanda (Vanda) Tan Chay Yan, which was hybridised by Mr Robert Tan Hoon Siang, the former president of the Malayan Orchid Society.
The hybrid is named after Mr Tan's father, Malayan rubber king Tan Chay Yan.
It was displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1954, and was awarded a First Class Certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society at the event.
Also featured is a hybrid named after Dr Kiat W. Tan, the founding chief executive of Gardens by the Bay. Dendrobium Kiat Tan has the ability to bloom in both tropical and cool climates, as a result of a lowland-highland orchid cross.
Dr Tan started the Gardens' orchid hybridisation programme in 2015.
"The image of the orchid is what put Singapore on the map," Dr Tan said of the orchid's significance in Singapore's history.