From afar, two vast conservatories, roofs arched like the backs of foraging dinosaurs, announce the southern section of Gardens by the Bay. Touted as a second botanic garden for Singapore, it is split into three chunks around Marina Bay; the southern area, next to Marina Bay Sands, is the largest and very much the centrepiece.
One conservatory houses Mediterranean and African flora, the highlight being the stands of small, bizarrely shaped baobab trees; less impressive are the collections of flowering plants, so tidy that they look like a formal display in a well-kept European park. The neighbouring conservatory nurtures cloud forest of the kind found on Southeast Asia’s highest peaks, and includes a 35m “mountain” covered in ferns, rhododendrons and insect-eating sundews and butterworts.
The gardens’ other big draw is the Supertree Grove, an array of towers resembling gigantic golf tees and sheathed in a sort of red trelliswork. Their sides are planted with climbers, ferns and orchids, which poke out from the gaps in the trellis. The towers don’t look so alluring from close up; more exciting is to walk the long, slightly wobbly OCBC Skyway, arcing between the tallest two supertrees high up and providing good views over the gardens and around Marina Bay. At night the supertrees are lit up using power from their own solar cells, and take centre stage in free light shows at 7.45pm and 8.45pm.