At the airport we purchased a ticket bundle to visit Flower Dome, Cloud Forest Dome, and the OCBC Walkway in Gardens by the Bay. On Monday after walking around the grounds in drizzle we investigated returning the tickets thinking that we were upsold at the airport. The Cloud Dome was closed for maintenance. The OCBC walkway was closed due to inclement weather, and we were a little cranky about it. We decided to return the following day.
The Flower Dome was a massive dome (larger than two football fields put together (1.2 hectacres). It is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest columnless greenhouse in the world. It hosts thousands of plants in nine different gardens. Kylie was most excited about seeing the Dragon Tree. She had read that there were only a few thousand left and red all the facts about it on the brochure.
Aside from the amazing diversity of plants inside, there was also many informational placards describing the challenges for the various plant species in their regions. Many of the challenges were loss of habitat, pesticides, agriculture, insect loss, and pollution.
Cloud Forest Dome
Next to the Flower Dome is a Cloud Forest within another dome. Upon entry we were overwhelmed by a huge waterfall cascading down an artificial mountain dense with cloud forest flora and fauna. As we worked our way up the levels to the top we were dazzled by the numerous and diverse orchids, flowers, and plants. At every corner informational placards described either the flora and fauna, cloud forest ecosystems and climate, or informed us as to their uncertain future.
At the top was the “Lost World”. Here Kylie was most fascinated by the Venus Fly Traps and other carnivorous plants.
At the bottom we walked through an amazing exhibit about mass extinction. It outlined all mass extinctions in Earth’s history and then outlined all the factors that are contributing to the current mass extinction:
- Over exploitation of natural resources
- Environmental pollution
- Taking over natural spaces
- Invasive species
- Climate change.
The exhibit was sobering. It ended with a short movie showing what happens year by as the climate inches higher and higher until 2100. It then whipped us back to 2019 and asked the question: “If you know what’s going to happen, and you don’t want it to, what are you going to do?”
The information in the cloud forest dome was dense. We all learned so much in such a short amount of time (we surprised ourselves by spending 5 hours in the two domes).
This attraction sees thousands of people a day and its central message was to educate the public on changing climate and the dangers this wondrous plants and environments face. Instead of bringing people to these amazing places to bear witness, Gardens by the Bay has done its best to bring these places to people.
OCBC Walkway and the Giant Forest
Outside the domes are giant metal trees that look like the Baobab trees of Madagascar. Vertical planters filled with epiphytes, orchids, and climbing plants line the trunks. Eventually, they will fill out the wire skeleton completely. A small walkway joins three of the trees. Along the path we were treated to views of Singapore’s skyline and facts about the artificial canopy as well as the benefits of rainforests.
At night the trees sported a light show about the Christmas Festival below. Artificial machines spewed snow to make sure that everyone had a white Christmas (it was actually suds).
We spent a few hours exploring the surrounding gardens. The gardens were divided into sections with informational activities in each section. Kylie played teacher reading each of the placards and keeping us in line. Later Alyssa took a turn reconciling what she learned in her biology class about bilogic history with a plant history exhibit.
An interesting part of the gardens was learning how they provided all the power to chill the giant domes and generate all the electricity. For this the Gardens by the Bay partners with EcoWise and has their own Biomass fuel generator. They use trimmings and plant waste (500,000 tons generated per year) from around the city and convert it to electricity in this fascinating process. They claim to be carbon neutral. Their plant keeps 13,280 tons of CO2 from being emitted annually. Or put another way:
- this is the same savings as 2,362 car’s average green house gasses emission
- or 5,112,603 litres of gasoline
- or 4502 average home’s electricity consumption in Singapore
Using biomass to generate power is done elsewhere but does not get a lot of press. This prompted Alyssa to ask: “This seems like a great idea, why aren’t other cities doing this?”
There was a lot of learning to be done in this area and I was surprised at how much Kylie and Alyssa lapped up the facts. Kylie made power point presentations and Alyssa took notes on her phone. The commitment to beauty, education, and the fusion of education and entertainment in this area was truly inspiring.
Is this the future?