National Orchid Garden to bloom brighter after upgrade

National Orchid Garden to bloom brighter after upgrade
The Cool House at the National Orchid Garden showcases plant species found in elfin forests at higher elevations. The upgrading work will include adding a second level.

Visitors to Singapore's one and only orchid garden will get to admire a greater variety of blooms in five years when it completes its first major upgrade since it opened 20 years ago.

The National Orchid Garden, located in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, will be spruced up to refresh its visitors' experience and showcase more orchid varieties, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced yesterday.

The enhancement will focus on four key areas in the 3ha garden: the Cool House, the Mist House, the bromeliad enclosure as well as the orchid nursery.

At the Cool House, visitors will be able to get up close and personal with more varieties of orchids, particularly those growing at higher altitudes, when a second level is built there.

Currently, the Cool House has only one level. Kept at between 16 to 20 deg C, it showcases species of plants found in elfin forests at higher elevations, such as the dancing lady and boat orchids.

The bromeliad enclosure, which features plant species grown in the lowlands, and the sub-mountainous Mist House will have improved ventilation, misting and irrigation systems that are more energy efficient.

The three areas will also form a tropical orchidetum showcasing a diversity of orchids and other plants from the habitats at different elevations.

"Visitors will be able to enjoy a seamless experience akin to ascending a tropical montane forest as they make their way through the orchidetum," NParks said.

When the upgrade is fully completed by 2020, visitors can also get a glimpse of the orchid nursery from a viewing deck.

The nursery, where the plants are cultivated for display, was previously not open to the public.

The orchid garden will remain open to the public during the $35 million upgrade, which will be done in stages.

Of that sum, $10 million was donated by Sembcorp Industries to partially fund the enhancements to the Cool House, which will be renamed the Sembcorp Cool House.

Thanking Sembcorp, NParks chief executive Kenneth Er said: "The contribution will go towards creating an environment for researchers to grow and bring orchids to flower that are naturally found at higher elevations.

"This, in turn, will create a refreshing educational experience for visitors to learn more about these orchids and their environments."

During yesterday's event, Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee also launched the World of Flowers Exhibition at a gallery in the Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum.

An educational exhibit featuring text and photographs on flowers, it will run daily until May 31.

It is closed every last Tuesday of the month. Admission is free.

This article was first published on January 29, 2015.
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