A short distance from Tanglin Gate is an idyllic oasis surrounded by patches of verdant tropical greenery. While awash with water lilies and papyrus plants today, it was home to a rhinoceros wallow back in the late 1800s when the Gardens used to house a zoo. Animals in the collection had included a sloth bear, kangaroos, orang utans, a leopard from the King of Siam, and a tiger from the Sultan of Terengganu.
Take a stroll along the newly-built boardwalk and spot butterflies flitting among colourful flowers by day, and then return at sundown to enjoy scents from nocturnally-inclined blooms. To create the sweet olfactory experience that its name suggests, the garden showcases species of plants that have been cultivated by various cultures through millennia for their aromatherapy, medicinal, ceremonial and perfumery uses.
This little glade with its jade green ponds boasts a symmetry not found anywhere else in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Its focal point is a circa 1929 bronze sundial with carved figures on each side of its whitewashed pedestal, and despite obvious signs of wear and tear, an enigmatic inscription continues to inform those who stumble upon it that “What thou seekest is a shadow”.
Head through one of two easily-missed paths off Dell Lane near Swan Lake and discover a peaceful and shady nook with unique water features. Dating back to 1882, it was originally designed with straight paths and simple mounds to showcase ferns, but was later modified with curved paths and a series of irregular rockeries. Little has changed in this Eden-esque spot since 1927.
Library of Botany and Horticulture
The Reference Library holds a rich collection of 30,000 journals, rare books and botanical illustrations, and has been in existence since 1875. Although this specialised library is only accessible to authorised staff and visiting researchers, the public is welcome to visit the Public Reference Centre to browse through botany and horticultural materials, from books and DVDs to herbarium specimens and botanical artifacts.
This article was originally published on SilverKris.com.