The entrance of Singapore Botanic Gardens leads to a narrow path which is enveloped in green, with streaks of sunlight peeking through the foliage and igniting the leaves in a warm glow. It was an early Monday afternoon, and it felt like the sun was taunting us.
The row of sparse towering trees flanking the path to the garden was puzzling to me. Why hide away the picturesque view? The walk to the open grass field felt longer than I remembered, or perhaps it was the stifling windless heat that made me sluggish.
By the time we entered the open area, sweat was trickling down my forehead, neck and legs. Wearing jeans in this heat was a terrible idea. But this was the least of my worries as I was greeted with the familiar lush green landscape – The Eco-Garden and Eco-Lake, which are popular features of the garden.
No doubt, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a world-recognized UNESCO heritage site and the pride of many locals. Not only does the nature utopia offer an impressive living collection of more than 10,000 flora and fauna, but is also a leading tropical botanical institute and an endearing site for our locals.
As one of the most visited botanic gardens in the world, the unusually quiet scene devoid of bustling activities and tourists caused a wave of sadness to wash over me. The Covid-19 pandemic has hidden away the nation’s gems from those across our borders and left the garden splendour to soak in its own allure.
At first glance, it may seem like there were hardly any visitors within the 82-hectare site. Then I remember the map of the gardens and realize I was yet again, naive – The scale of the entire site easily dwarfs the vast greenery beholding me.
Scanning the Eco-Garden, locals and expats enjoy a relaxing picnic, stroll around the garden, a daily jog… All was not lost when the garden lost its masses as people’s routines and activities stood the test of time.
For a second, seeing visitors hike these routes without masks made me forget all about the pandemic. Perhaps some would even choose to work up a sweat just to be free from their masks for a few hours.
The sun was fiercely beating down on the floral grounds and held humidity like a sponge holds water. Sporting breathable tank tops, t-shirts and shorts, the hot and humid weather was nothing new for the garden’s visitors.
Enjoying a leisurely couple of hours with close ones at Singapore’s flowering spectacle while getting out of the city’s constant bustle might just be the perfect balance to cure pandemic fatigue. For me, the complementary admission and the accessible location is what seals the deal.
As I continued to watch groups of visitors indulge in the calm of the day with their preferred activities and exchange lively chatter and beaming gazes among themselves, I smiled to myself – This garden is home to a community, holds many endearing memories and will always welcome visitors with open arms.
Yes, that was merely only the beginning of the alluring captivity of the botanic gardens. Venturing deeper into these floral grounds, I was encapsulated in a never-ending array of flora speckled in a myriad of colours and patterns. It almost seems too overwhelming to take in all at once.
Walking through the golden arches at the National Orchid Garden, it seems as though the plants and flowers are anticipating my arrival, flaunting their beauty, and beckoning me to come closer. At the Mist Garden, the mist was mysterious but enticing, hiding behind large leaves before cascading down like smoke to further entice me to explore the tropical Eden.
From the kaleidoscope of colourful plants and flowers to the towering trees and attractions showcasing magnificent natural wonders and historical developments, Singapore Botanic Gardens lies at the heart of our green city and is open for everyone to enjoy.
It is the sanctuary for our soul and a healing source by nature.