Home in Focus: Pretty in pink... and yellow and white and orange too

The Straits Times Picture Desk captures the streetscape here as it receives a beautiful infusion of colours from plants in bloom in 'springtime' Singapore.

Tropical Singapore can spring a surprise on its people - twice a year.

It is now experiencing a "September spring", the second of two flowering seasons each year.

Bloom time is usually triggered when heavy showers occur after a hot and long dry spell. In Singapore, March to April and August to September are the months during which this happens.

Residents are in for a treat now, as species such as the trumpet tree, pink mempat and yellow flame tree are flowering.

Trumpet trees in bloom beside the Singapore River near Kim Seng Road earlier this month. These trees are also commonly known as pink poui, but are often fondly called “Singapore’s cherry blossoms”. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

The canopy of the Yellow Flame tree, which has bunches of bright yellow blooms measuring about three centimetres in size, along Tiong Bahru Road on Sept 11, 2020. It is widely planted along roadsides for its wide beautiful crown and bright yellow, full blooms which occasionally cover the entire tree. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

And no trying of luck is needed if you want to view them - to find out where the trees in bloom are, log on to the TreeSG website here.

The online platform, which was launched earlier this year, allows the public to share photos of flowering trees.

For instance, those looking to check a tree out can input "trumpet tree" or its scientific name Tabebuia rosea and click on the "Am I flowering?" button on the site to get exact locations.

Pink mempat trees in bloom providing a pretty backdrop at Marine Cove in East Coast Park last week. The tree bears light pink flowers and is a native species that was planted by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1963 to mark the start of Singapore’s nationwide tree-planting campaign. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

An overhead bridge in Lorong 1 Toa Payoh last Wednesday, decked in bougainvillea that had blossomed profusely in the recent wet weather. Bougainvillea is grown extensively in Singapore because it is a plant that flowers all year round in the Republic’s hot and wet weather conditions. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Garlic vines blooming outside Nanyang Polytechnic in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 last Thursday. These plants are woody climbers with odourless leaves that give off a distinct garlic smell only when crushed, thus earning them the common name garlic vine. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

There are about 15,000 Tabebuia rosea trees in Singapore, and some spots to enjoy the beautiful blooms are Bedok Road, Punggol Park, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and the Singapore River Promenade.

Mr Oh Cheow Sheng, group director of streetscape at the National Parks Board, said: "We have been very encouraged by the response to trees.sg where members of the public have been sending Treemails to their favourite trees and giving them virtual hugs. We urge more people to explore the platform to learn more about our trees and how they are cared for."

Bougainvillea on an overhead bridge at Bishan Road near Bishan park on Sept, 2020. Bougainvillea is commonly found around the island, especially on overhead bridges and highways. It is grown extensively in Singapore because it flowers all year in hot and wet weather. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Trumpet Trees (Tabebuia rosea) blooming along the Singapore River near Kim Seng Road on Sept 4, 2020. These large and showy flowers bear five petals and create an impressive flowering display. When they fall, they retain their colour for a few days, forming a spectacular pink or white carpet around the tree. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Apart from the seasonal blooms, there are also plants that flower all year round, such as the bougainvillea; or exhibit flushes of young, reddish leaves, such as the tropical crepe myrtle and kelat oil.

The flowering seasons have settled into a rhythm in Singapore - for now.

In general, plants evolve to respond physiologically to changes in the environment, and flowering patterns will change in line with increased climate variability.

Cratoxylum maingayi tree in full bloom at Jurong Lake Gardens on Sept 09, 2020. The tree can grow up to 10 m tall. The flowers have pale pink or white petals and are insect-pollinated.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Yellow trumpet flowers seen outside Maybank Tower at Fullerton Square on Sept 11, 2020. Slightly fragrant, its flowers are trumpet-shaped, bright yellow of up to 5 cm long. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Other environmental factors affecting flowering include temperature, light and moisture levels.

An outing to view the flowers in bloom is one way to still stop and smell the roses, with the coronavirus pandemic effectively putting a stop to leisure travel.

The flowers of these glossy shower trees adding some colour to this stretch of Commonwealth Avenue last Thursday. The trees are able to grow up to 7m tall, providing shade to pedestrians.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

People cycling past Bougainvillea Garden at East Coast Park during the September school holidays on Sept 7, 2020. Bougainvillea is a native plant of tropical South America. Its common name is Paper Flower. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN