Friday, 13 January 2017

Gardens by the Bay - Singapore

Walking around Singapore feels like the opening of a utopian Hollywood film set in a futuristic metropolis; I have not found a place so awe-inspiring for a long time. The Gardens by the Bay continued the futuristic appearance with a sprinkling of magic and wonder.

As you walk past two skyscrapers with a giant ship spanning the lofty gap between them you know this city's garden is not going to be your usual herbaceous planting and formal layout. Here you find a giant super-tree grove, huge futuristic glasshouses, a forest, gardens inspired from around the world and many other eccentric artifice.

One day is not enough time to explore the wonders of this garden and with the temperature well into the 30's and humidity at an unbearable level, the sound of a cooled 'Cloud Forest' dome seemed like the best place to start. Heading in I expected an air-conditioned, 'Eden project' style space but what met me was a futuristic world complete with man-made clouds and a waterfall taller than any natural one I have ever seen.

The temperate environment in the Cloud Forest results in a huge range of plants living happily together from all corners of the globe. Plants that we may know as annual bedding such as Busy Lizzie and Begonia create carpets under large magnolia and tree ferns.

I have created some green walls and seen them used in many different ways in London but here they cover a central monolith as if an abandoned high-rise has been reclaimed by nature.

The sculptures at this garden seem dwarfed by their surroundings but they are stand alone works of art in their own right. Fabulous oriental lions and dragons carved into huge ancient trees emerge from the undergrowth or proudly guard the entrances from evil sprits. An intricate depiction of the world takes an unimposing position in the garden but has such detail and evocative representation of water, earth and sky that in any other place it would take pride of place.

You leave the dome through an educational centre displaying disturbing and thought provoking facts about our own destruction of the planet and it's plants. As the above sculpture alludes to; the world is on our hands.