The Singapore Garden Festival joins the ranks of other world-class horticultural shows like the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and Philadelphia International Flower Show, which draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Nature's boon of an equatorial climate and diverse vegetation combined with a heritage of floristry and the horticulture-themed venue of Gardens by the Bay make Singapore an ideal location to showcase the best of tropical gardens and floral artistry to the world. The Festival is also a milestone in the country's transformation from the Garden City that we all know, to a City in a Garden.
Back to the Wild by Michael Petrie / Photo courtesy of National Parks Board
The biennial event returns for the 5th time with only 9 days of gardens and flower displays. If you haven't attended the Festival, make haste as it ends on 24 August. The venue is also ideal for a weekend picnic on the lawn while enjoying the fascinating horticultural displays. If you're still considering, here are 8 simple reasons that will make it worth your trip.
32 internationally renowned designers will be vying for top spots in the Landscape and Fantasy Gardens competition and the Floral Windows to the World competition. You can meet previous 'Best of Show' winners Joe Palimeno (Landscape Gardens Category) from New Jersey who is also an award winner at the Philadelphia International Flower Show, and Damian Tang (Fantasy Garden Category), the President of the Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects. Some of the other designers visiting Singapore include Andy Sturgeon, one of the top 10 garden designers in the UK and repeated award winner at the Chelsea Flower Show; Wang Xiangrong, the vice-dean of the School of Landscape Architecture at the Beijing Forestry University and a winner of the 2011 Charmont-sur-Loire Garden Festival in France; and Andrew Seccull, author of "The Perfect Garden" book from Australia.
More is more
Scared Grove by Andrew Wilson & Gavin McWilliam / Photo courtesy of National Parks Board
Organised by the National Parks Board and Gardens by the Bay, this year's Festival makes best use of both outdoor and indoor areas. That means more space for award-winning international designers and local gardening communities to construct and design their gardens. The end result is an extensive showcase of 50 gardens and flower displays that you can enjoy browsing from day to night at The Meadow.
Andy Engs Secret Garden by Andy Eng / Photo courtesy of National Parks Board
Highlights include the 'Heaven on Earth' garden by Vincent Chia from Singapore, who has been designing and implementing gardens for over 20 years. He designed a garden where people can enjoy the company of butterflies and plants. Kate Hillier and Dan Rutherford from New Zealand have used a snow machine to create their fantastic 'Winter Illusion'. Their unique design features a frozen winter garden beneath a tropical Singapore jungle.
Off to a new high
Orchid Extravaganza at Singapore Garden Festival / Photo courtesy of National Parks Board
Set against the background of the towering supertrees are bigger and taller displays eager to reach for the sky, thanks to the new 9m height limits. You simply cannot miss the 10 metre high orchid tower. It is the centrepiece of the 'Orchid Extravaganza' which contains 18,000 orchid plants and over 40 orchid species at the Flower Dome. Designed by award-winning Japanese landscape architect Jun-Ichi Inada, this vertical garden is a kaleidoscope that displays the orchids' vast spectrum of colours such as red, pink, orange, green, yellow and purple. Another highlight is a 9 metre high cathedral look-alike structure, entitled 'A Garden of Hers'. This tall exhibit with 4 panels of 6 metre tall stained glass is designed by Damian Tang from Singapore.
Small is also beautiful
Museum of Hawaiian Plant Lore by Louise Krasniewicz / Photo courtesy of White Horse Studio
The Festival is not just about towering exhibits. You can enjoy a popular exhibit from the Philadelphia Flower Show in the US that is making an appearance in the Singapore Garden Festival this year. The Miniature Garden Display will feature gardens the size of only 0.5 metre by 1 metre, designed by award winners from the US show including Deb Mackie, Louise Krasniewicz and Nancy Grube. They have used miniature plants, intricately designed furniture and accessories to create popular-fiction themed miniature gardens like Harry Potter's Greenhouse and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.
Competition encourages talent and gardening
Another new feature of this year's event is the Celebrations! Floral Table Series, which encourages recognition and greater public interest in floristry.
Miracle Dining Table by Tan Han Xiang for Celebrations! Floral Table Series / Photo courtesy of National Parks Board
This competition is where you get to see 4 finalists in the professional category and 3 in the amateur category go petal-to-petal as they showcase their floral arrangement talents with fresh flowers, cutlery and accessories. You can also view the 8 amazing 3 metre by 3 metre works of local designers participating in The Balcony Gardens competition. The designs may inspire the decoration of your high-rise balcony into a tropical retreat or oasis in the sky.
Gardeners' Cup's Sound of the Forest / Photo courtesy of National Parks Board
The local community is not left out. The Gardeners' Cup is bringing local gardeners to team up and create a garden featuring one of the 5 senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. The competition also brings locals together, helping to build stronger community bonds and facilitate the exchange of gardening knowledge and experiences.
The organisers have made sure that everyone, young and old, can enjoy themselves. The Garden Fiesta offers a daily schedule of performances, floral arrangement demonstrations and talks that are entertaining and educational. Check out the programme schedule for what's happening each day.
What's a great Singapore festival without some excellent shopping? The MarketPlace at the Supertree Grove will provide you with something to bring home. There are over 80 stalls selling a wide range of gardening products, landscape services, plants and flowers, arts and crafts. Visitors who are looking to incorporate some greenery into their homes and want some tips on indoor gardening can also check out the book "My Green Space: Indoor Gardening Made Simple" launched at the Festival.
All the beautiful tropical garden and floral displays surrounding the Festival make for many fantastic photo opportunities. Instead of just storing them away, send your perfect picturesque view of the theme "Colours" at the Festival and submit it through Singapore Garden Festival's Facebook page. You might just win yourself a Canon-sponsored EOS 700D, PowerShot G16 or PowerShot SX700 HS. The contest starts on 16 August and ends on 7 September 2014. Those without worthy photos can also win prizes by voting for their favourite photo on the Facebook page's contest tab.
Ticketing Details and Festival Map
Tickets are available during the show period at the ticketing kiosks located at the entrance of The Meadow, The Meadow open-air car park and near the entrance of the Flower Dome. Check out the website for prices. Here's a festival map to help you get a sense of where everything is.