Singapore's National Garden
Introduction to Botanical Garden
The first "Botanical and Experimental Garden" was established in 1822 on Government Hill at Fort Canning by Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore and a keen naturalist. The Garden's main task was to introduce into cultivation a variety of crops which were of economic importance, including those yielding timber, spices and raw materials.
That Garden closed in 1829 and it was not until 30 years later the present Singapore Botanic Gardens was founded by a
agriticultural society. Spread over 52 hectares, it was subsequently handed over to the government for maintenance and today is looked after by the National Parks Board.
In the early years, the Gardens plays an important role in fostering agricultural development in Singapore and the region through collecting, growing and distributing potentially useful plants.
One of the earlier and most important examples was the introduction from Brazil in 1877 of Para Rubber, a major crop that brought great prosperity to the Asean region. Much research, both horticultural and botanical, has been conducted at the Botanical Gardens through the years, and many of the publications remain authoritative references to the plants in the region.
The Gardens spearheaded orchid breeding and hybridisation programmes in the region and played a key role in Singapore's Garden City programme through continuous introduction of plants of horticultural and botanical value. The comprehensive herbarium and reference library at the Gardens have also been invaluable to research into regional flora.
In addition, the living plant collection, the research function, the 20-year-old School of Horticulture and the various publications serve to promote public education on various aspects of landscape planting, horticulture and botany.
Singapore Botanic Gardens has come a long way since 1859. From a mere pleasure park for family recreation, it has evolved into a fine tropical botanic gardens and an important centre for botanic research.
In the next few years, research and education top the list of priorties as the Gardens promotes the resources of its outdoor classroom for botany for Singaporeans and tourists. The Gardens has embarked on the first phase of comprehensive programme to upgrade and redevelop this living resource into the leading botanic institution in the equatorial belt by the next millennium.
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