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Singapore Botanic Gardens Introduction

Tembusu Tree was used a image of Singapore S$5 notes and Vanda Miss Joaquim was describe by the first director of Singapore Botanic Gardens Mr H.N. Ridley  since 1893. It has been selected as National Flower of Singapore since 1981.


The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a dynamic and living monument to the foresight of the founding fathers of Singapore. Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore and a keen naturalist, established the first botanical and experimental garden on Government Hill (Fort Canning Hill) in 1822, shortly after his arrival in Singapore. He aimed to introduce cultivation of economic crops such as cocoa and nutmeg. However, without a full-time salaried director and sufficient funding, the garden languished and was closed in 1829, after Raffles’ death.
The Gardens at its present site was founded in 1859 by an Agri-Horticultural Society. Planned as a leisure garden and ornamental park, the Society organised flower shows and horticultural fetes. In 1874, the Society handed over management and maintenance of the site to the government. The scientific mission of the Gardens evolved when the colonial government assumed management and deployed Kew-trained botanists and horticulturists to administer the Gardens.
It is fair to say that the history of the Gardens is in many respects the history of its dedicated administrators. The Gardens’ first Director, Henry Nicholas Ridley, came to the Gardens in 1888 and worked tirelessly for the next 23 years to usher the Gardens into the twentieth century and its most productive period historically. Ridley’s zealous persistence in persuading Malaya’s planters to grow rubber trees earned him less than flattering nicknames such as “Mad Ridley” and “Rubber Ridley”. During the 1890s and early 1900s, Ridley devised successful propagation methods and also discovered a way to harvest commercial quantities of latex without harming or killing the trees. He advocated the large-scale cultivation of rubber in Malaya. Planters in Malaya largely ignored Ridley until their coffee plantations were devastated by disease and they desperately required a new cash crop. During this time, demand for rubber soared as the automobile industry boomed. As Ridley had turned the Gardens forest clearings and waste land over to rubber, the Gardens had a ready source of seed supply when the rubber rush came. The Gardens’ revenue multiplied greatly as the region became a major market for the rubber trade. The plants at the Botanic Gardens became the basis for Southeast Asia’s rubber industry, an industry that generated fortunes.

It was also during Ridley’s administration that Singapore’s national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim, was discovered. An Armenian lady, Agnes Joaquim was in her garden when a new hybrid caught her attention. Thrilled with the beautiful discovery, she rushed to Ridley with the plant. Ridley confirmed that a new orchid hybrid, previously unknown to science and that flowered freely year round has been created.
Beginning in 1928, Professor Eric Holttum, Director of the Gardens from 1925 – 1949, set up laboratories and conducted the first experiments in orchid breeding and hybridisation. The results of these experiments, free flowering and hardy orchid hybrids laid the foundation for the multi-million dollar cut flower industry. Since then, outstanding hybrids have been cultivated in the Gardens and received recognition worldwide.
By the mid 1960s, the Gardens was taking a leading role in the greening of Singapore. To meet the need for urban landscapes and recreational areas, the Gardens’ staff became involved in supplying planting material and in plant introduction to increase the variety and colour in road side and park plantings.
In 1973, the Botanic Gardens merged with the Parks and Trees branch of the Public Works Department, which became the Parks and Recreation Department.
In 1988, a big leap forward occurred when Dr Tan Wee Kiat became Director of the Gardens. While the Gardens remained committed to its role in making Singapore a Garden City and meeting recreational needs, renewed focus on being a leading international institution for tropical botany was established. Excellence in botanical research, education programmes and preservation of the cultural heritage of the Gardens were emphasised. Under Dr Tan’s direction, the 3-hectares National Orchid Garden, a major tourist attraction today, was established.
In June 1990, Singapore Botanic Gardens came under the management of the newly formed National Parks Board. The Gardens embarked upon a comprehensive improvement programme to bring it to the forefront of botanical and horticultural activity by the 21st century. Dr Tan became the Chief Executive Officer of this new National Parks Board. In July 1996, the Ministry of National Development merged the National Parks Board and the Parks and Recreation Department into a single authority to look after the greening and beautification of Singapore. The name of the authority, a statutory board remains as National Parks Board. Dr Chin See Chung took over the challenging role of Director of the Gardens. Besides continuing the Gardens’ traditional roles in research, education and conservation, Dr Chin is steering the Gardens on a long term upgrading programme to provide better public facilities and amenities. New attractions, such as the Ginger Garden, Evolution Garden, Coolhouse and the Children’s Garden are being added to keep the Gardens relevant as a leading destination.Under the stewardship of Dr Chin, the Gardens is geared towards entrenching itself as a tropical botanical institution of international renown, a key tourist destination and a flagship park.

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Opening hours

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Opening hours: 5 am to 12 midnight daily
Admission Fee: Free

National Orchid Garden

Opening hours: 8.30 am to 7 pm daily (last ticket sale at 6pm).
Admission Fee:
Adults $5.00
Students $1.00
Senior Citizens(60 years and Above) $1.00
Children (below 12 years) Free

Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden

Opening hours: 8.00am – 7.00pm (last admission at 6.30pm)
The Children’s Garden is closed on Mondays (except when it falls on a designated public holiday)
Admission Fee: Free
The Children’s Garden is open to children up to 12 years old. All children have to be accompanied by an adult.
Library of Botany and Horticulture


Opening hours: Mondays to Fridays
Saturdays & Sundays
Public Holidays
9.00am – 5.00pm
9.00am – 1.00pm

To get there

By Foot:
Entrance to the Gardens is easy through the Gardens’ major entrances: Tanglin Gate, Burkill Gate, Nassim Gate and Cluny Park Gate, and through the Bukit Timah Entrance.

By Car:
Car Parking Facilities are available at the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Visitor Centre, Bukit Timah Car Park at Bukit Timah Core, Botany Centre, Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden and Public Parking along Tyersall Avenue.
Car Park Charges

By Bus:
Get to the Gardens by Public Bus
via Holland Road or Bukit Timah Road.

Via Holland Road
SBS Transit 7, 105, 123, 174
SMRT 75, 77, 106

Via Bukit Timah Road
SBS Transit 48, 66, 151, 153, 154, 156, 170
SMRT 67, 171

By Taxi:
There is a Taxi Drop-Off and Pick-Up point at the Visitor Centre along Cluny Road.

By Coach:
a) Coach Drop-off Point is located at the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Visitor Centre, the Ginger Garden Coach Drop-off Point and Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.

b) Coach Parking is available at the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Visitor Centre, Tyersall Avenue Public Coach Park and Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.



Map for Bukit Timah Core

Map for Central Core

Maps of Tanglin Core

Heritage Trees of Singapore Botanic Gardens

Majestic mature trees are the natural heritage of Singapore and serve as important green landmarks of our Tropical Garden City. They help to create a sense of permanence and identity to the place we live. It takes decades and in some cases, more than hundreds of years for these trees to mature gracefully in our landscape.

As Singapore progresses, there is a danger of losing these mature trees. In view of this concern, the Heritage Trees Scheme was announced on 17 Aug 2001 with the objectives to conserve and to educate the community on the importance of protecting our mature trees.

In support of this initiative, a Heritage Trees Fund was established by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC), with an initial donation of $125,000. The Fund is used to implement a conservation programme to safeguard our Heritage Trees and to promote appreciation of our natural heritage. Some of these programme initiatives include installation of lightning conductors, interpretive signages, and putting in place a nomination scheme for the community.

Download our free Heritage Walking Trail Guide now!

Heritage Trees In The Gardens

Eleven trees in the Singapore Botanic Gardens were selected as National heritage trees in August 2002. The trees are in the table below:

Girth Size (m)
Height (m)
Lawn J
Lawn C (within redevelopment site of Tanglin Core)
Lawn O
along edge of footpath, Palm Valley
Lawn F
within National Orchid Garden
Liane Road
Lawn E
within National Orchid Garden
in front of Visitor Centre
Ceiba pentandra (Kapok Tree)
Beside Holttum Hall
Hevea brasiliensis (Rubber Tree)
Behind Green Pavilion
Inocarpus fagifer (Tahitian Locust Tree)
Behind JBCG carpark
Pentadesma butyracea (Tallow Tree )
Healing Garden, behind House 5

Bamboos at Bukit Timah Core

The bamboos, together with several herbaceous grasses, are members of Bambusoideae, a subfamily of the grass family Gramineae. At least 90 genera and 1200 species of bamboos are distributed throughout the world’s temperate, tropical and subtropical regions.

Bamboos first developed as forest plants, or along forest margin, and evolved into a highly diverse and distributed group. They grow from sea level to high mountainous regions. Bamboo forms includes delicate, fernlike, tropical, herbaceous plants, perennial groundcovers, shrubs, vining climbers and arborescent timber bamboo. They share certain basic similarities that place them apart from other grasses: they have segmented, typically hollow and somewhat woody stems, called culms, that sprout from the rhizomes, the underground stems. Except for the oceanic kelps, bamboo is the world’s fastest plant. New bamboo culms can grow more than several feet in a 24-hour period.

Bamboo is a principal defining element for many traditional cultures. Bamboo is shelter; it is food, and the means to acquire food. Some of the bamboos found in the Gardens’ bamboo collection are the Chinese Goddess bamboo, Bambusa multiplex, Buddha’s belly bamboo, Bambusa vulgaris ‘Wamin’, Giant bamboo, Dendrocalamus giganteus, Black bamboo or Bambu hitam, Gigantochloa atroviolacea and Bambu tali, Gigantochloa apus.



EcoLake at Bukit Timah Core

The Eco-Lake, with its irregularly sinuous shores, has a soft and natural atmosphere. Fish swim in its clear waters, and waterhen, heron and migrant ducks call this home. It is delightful to see the colourful bee-eaters swooping and turning as they catch insects above the lake surface. Of course, no visit would be complete without a sight of the black swans. These natives of Australia have been associated with the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and the Eco-Lake is a beautiful setting in which to admire them.