Engage your senses at Gardens by the Bay

Rep Post - Gardens by the Bay

(PHOTO: Leong Phei Phei)

DMC students who participated in “Let’s Take a Sustainability Walk” service-learning-cum-cohort outing last July learnt that plants communicate with us and their surroundings through their unique scents and smells

Rep Post - Gardens by the Bay

(PHOTO: Leong Phei Phei)

Have you ever been intrigued by the diverse range of smells that surrounds us? Here at Gardens by The Bay, visitors can engage their senses and learn about the deep connection between plants and their smells through a guided tour. 

As part of the SG Go Green month in July last year, a group of students from Republic Polytechnic’s Diploma in Mass Communication (DMC) did just that. They went on the Seeds and Senses tour and discovered the secret lives of plants through their smells. 

The Seeds and Senses tour is one of five sustainability tours sponsored by Keppel Corporation. Launched in 2023, the sustainability tours at Gardens by the Bay aimed to encourage participants to create a greener and more sustainable future through their appreciation for nature.

Highlights from the Seeds and Scents tour

With an objective to inspire visitors and raise awareness about the importance of preserving and protecting our natural resources, the Seeds and Senses tour included native and non-native unique floras such as the Ylang Ylang plant and many more.

Not only was the hour-long tour a breathtaking visual spectacle, it was also a haven for botanical enthusiasts, boasting a diverse collection of plant species, including a wide range of flora and their range of scents, each with its unique story. 

From the intense aroma of Lemon Myrtle to the delicate fragrance of Limeberry, every plant has its own secret language communicated through scent. It is a reminder that the world of smells extends far beyond our human experience, and plants, too, possess a unique olfactory sense that allows them to interact with their surroundings. 

Here are a few unique plants worth highlighting:

The Ylang Ylang plant

At the heart of this botanical marvel, the Ylang Ylang plant (Cananga odorata) takes centrestage with its delicate yellow flowers and intoxicating fragrance. Known for its essential oil, Ylang Ylang has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and perfumery. Its sweet, floral scent has a calming effect on the senses, making it a popular ingredient in aromatherapy.

Visitors on the Seeds and Senses tour have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the captivating aroma of the Ylang Ylang plant, indulging their senses and experiencing the therapeutic benefits it offers.

A picture capturing a singular flower from the ylang ylang plant, its vibrant colour and scent makes it an attractive plant to humans and insects alike. (PHOTO: NParks Floral&FaunaWeb)

Lemon Myrtle tree

Another botanical gem awaiting discovery on the tour is the Lemon Myrtle tree (Backhousia citriodora), renowned for its zesty and refreshing fragrance. Native to Australia, this evergreen tree is cherished for its culinary and medicinal uses. 

Did you know that the plant has antimicrobial and insect repellent properties? 

The leaves of the Lemon Myrtle tree are rich in essential oils, imparting a distinct lemony aroma to dishes and beverages. Moreover, these leaves possess antibacterial and antifungal properties, making them a valuable ingredient in natural remedies. The Seeds and Senses tour provides an opportunity for visitors to witness the majesty of the Lemon Myrtle tree and learn about its cultural significance and versatile applications.

The Limeberry plant

The limeberry is yet another fascinating plant on the tour. 

Limeberries, which are native to East Asia, have leaves that resemble Lemon Myrtle and white flowers with a strong aroma. These leaves have natural defenses against potential dangers thanks to their antibacterial, antioxidant, and insect-repelling properties. 

Limeberries have a sweet fragrance of white flowers and are edible. Their leaves have similar characteristics to the Lemon Mrytle and have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and insect repellent properties in order to safeguard it against potential threats.

A close-up of the Limeberry captivates the participants with its distinct zesty scent. Not only is the scent refreshing, it also serves as a defense mechanism with their unique antibacterial, antioxidant, and insect-repelling properties. (PHOTO: Jenn Lee Qing En)

The Cannonball Tree

The Cannonball Tree (Couroupita guianensis) is one of the tour’s most visually striking flora. This tropical tree can be seen in Gardens by the Bay. It has eye-catching bell-shaped blossoms that give off a delightful scent to draw in insects and other wildlife. These flowers have a 5cm maximum diameter and can be found in a range of colours, including pink, white, and yellow. The flowers develop into gigantic, woody fruits with a diameter of 15cm to 24cm after pollination. A fresh fruit aroma is released as the cannonball-shaped fruit is cracked open, adding to the sensory experience. Each fruit has numerous seeds covered in pulp.

A wide view on the Canon Ball tree showing its impressively tall and thick trunk intertwined with its long stalks bearing flowers and fruits. (PHOTO: Leanne Chow Rui Yee)
A close-up on the flower from a Cannonball tree, depicting its flashy colours of yellow pink and white on its petals. It is also relatively big spanding about 12cm across. (PHOTO: Leanne Chow Rui Yee)
Wide view of Cannonball tree trunk ntertwined with a mass of thick long stalks bearing large showy flowers and large rounded fruits, with the latter looking very much like cannon balls. (PHOTO: Leanne Chow Rui Yee)

A learning journey

The Seeds and Senses tour offers visitors a sensory experience that transcends mere visual beauty. Exploring these unique plant species provides an opportunity to celebrate nature’s wonders and the immense value they bring to our lives.

Furthermore, by showcasing these exceptional plants, Gardens by the Bay emphasises the importance of biodiversity conservation and the role of botanical gardens in preserving rare and endangered species. 

The Seeds and Senses Tour not only invites visitors to immerse themselves in the splendor of these flora but also educates them about the significance of plant conservation and the need to protect our natural heritage.

The Seeds and Senses tour at Gardens by the Bay is a captivating journey into the world of extraordinary flora, where floras like the mesmerising scents of the Ylang Ylang plant and the invigorating essence of the Lemon Myrtle tree transport visitors to a realm of enchantment. By shedding light on these botanical treasures, we can inspire a deeper appreciation for the natural world and foster a sense of responsibility towards its preservation.

To sign up for the tour, visit Nature and Sustainability Tours (gardensbythebay.com.sg) today.