Flower Dome and World Orchid Show

Okay, it’s not very macho to admit this, but I love flowers.

They represent the ‘enlightenment’ that a plant achieves. After going through periods of rain and sunshine, the plant reaches a certain point in maturation and one day, colours and fragrance burst forth. 

Much like the blossoming of our innermost human consciousness. When we reach a threshold of self-awareness and can be at peace with all that is within and around us, we bloom.

A bridge on Level 4 of Marina Bay Sands links directly to Gardens by the Bay. The scenic walk provided a nice transition from urban livin' to nature lovin'.

So when I received an invitation to attend the preview of the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay in conjunction with the 20th Orchid Conference, I had a bee to honey moment.

The media event was supposed to be on 13 Nov but I was running a temperature and missed it. Thankfully, an additional invitation allowed me to visit the dome and conference between 14 – 20 Nov so I made my way down during my off day yesterday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good day to go. The sky was overcast.

Glad I had the Casio Exilim ZR100 with me. Using the HDR-Art mode, I was able to capture colours on an otherwise very muted shot due to the dull weather.

However, as the Flower Dome received visitors only during that 1 week period as a preview ahead of the Gardens by the Bay official June 2012 launch, I was determined to get the best out of my visit come rain or shine. It’ll be a challenge to get nice shots that day, which was a perfect opportunity to test out the new Casio Exilim ZR100 (EX-ZR100). I brought along my DSLR so you’ll see photos from both cameras.

Pictures with a thin black frame around them are taken with the EX-ZR100.

Awaiting full bloom. Gardens by the Bay is Singapore's new approach to greening the city with environmentally-friendly technology and sustainable resource management.

The above few photos were taken with EX-ZR100’s HDR and HDR-Art modes. I tried taking those shots with my DSLR but the colours were very bland and the subtle presence of clouds were lost, making the sky look white-washed.

So for anyone who thinks that the bigger the camera the better the photos, well, that’s not always true.

Inside the air-conditioned Flower Dome... the plants all so hoh mia (good life)! The conservatory replicates the cool-dry climate of the Mediterranean and semi-arid subtropical regions like South Africa and parts of Europe such as Spain and Italy.

Consisting of several ethnic-themed gardens by the southern coast of the Marina Bay area,  the sprawling horticultural development will showcase flora and fauna from different continents of the world except Antartica.

Around 226.000 plants are expected to be featured when the project is complete. I’m sure it’ll become a photography hotspot.

Love the dome design and architecture. The lines form such a dramatic webbed background when shot with fisheye. Just from the looks of the Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay is already on my super like list!

Was greeted by a row of red gerberas upon entering the dome. Shot with EX-ZR100's HDR-Art mode.

Also shot with the HDR-Art mode, this albino gerbera turned out yellow! Interesting.

The essential "I was in the Flower Dome" shot.

I used to be crazy about orchids for a while and would spend hours visiting the Thomson Road stretch of nurseries. I even attended a course on orchid cultivation and indoor gardening by NParks.

Unfortunately, my heart may be green, but my fingers are not. Many orchids withered in my care no matter how much attention or nitrate fertilisers I fed them. Maybe they got smothered by my over-zealousness. I even managed to kill a couple of common dendrobiums, the hardiest of orchid species. Think I should just see and don’t touch!

Name of Orchid : Renanthera 20th WOC Singapore 2011. The flaming red blossom was the official flower of the 20th World Orchid Conference. It was polinated in August 2003 (Renanthera Bangkok Flame + Renanthera Klsom) and first flowered in June 2005. That's the fun thing with orchids, different species can be spliced to get new ones.

My favourite species... lady slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum)! This specimen has such vibrant, bewitching colours. During a garden festival at Dempsey many years ago, I bought a jade green slipper orchid for S$60! The flower lasted for about 3 weeks. After that, I didn't manage to get it to flower again and it died of root rot.

Cymbidium Chen's Ruby 'ORCHIS'.

Another shot of the Ruby 'ORCHIS' taken in HDR-Art mode. Such radically different colour results from the original. So cool!

Close-up of a giant phalaenopsis' lip in HDR-Art mode. Can you see a face with raised arms? Looks rather comical don't you think?

The wide sepals of the white Phalaenopsis has this aura of virginal purity around it. I'm used to seeing Phal sprays with several flowers but not this single bloomer.

The dancing lady orchid (Oncidium) on steroids! These big florets have the sultry allure of a yellow-skirted flamenco dancer.

Forgot to get the name of this orchid species because I was so enthralled by the patterning and colours saturated by the HDR-Art mode.

So heartwarming to see everyone enjoying the flowers. There was this couple who asked me to take a photo for them. I think the husband suffers from cerebal palsy coz he couldn't walk very well and very slow. But his wife was patiently guiding him to stand next to her for their portrait. I was so touched.

After the Flower Dome, I took the 10-minutes walk to cross over to Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre for the 20th World Orchid Conference’s World Orchid Show. First thing that struck me was… so many people! I wonder if I would find my little piece of paradise in the crowd. 

The conference was a massive gathering of orchid societies all over the globe showcasing their native species, winning breeds, as well as floral art culminating as the World Orchid Show. I’ve never seen so many real orchids at one place in my life.

Orchid-laced corridor leading to the exhibition halls. Very grand indeed.

A triennial international event, this year's conference also heralded the largest orchid show in Singapore featuring over 75 decorative floral installations.

I think this is a Vanda orchid. With so many hybrids crossing the distinctive properties of various parentage, it can sometimes be confusing trying to identify an orchid species just by its flower alone.

Champion of the floral display at the World Orchid Show.

The show was a platform for countries to show off their creativity with all things floral. These were entrants for the best table floral arrangement competition.

Inspiration for Lady Gaga's next fashion fantasy?


Love the gorgeously rich velvet hues on this slipper orchid. 'Orchid' comes from the ancient Greek word 'orkhis'. It means testicle. Doesn't this orchid's pouch remind you of something other than a lady's slipper?

Before the orchid show, I didn't know there are so many different species of slipper orchids. I was over-stimulated and had the urge to buy one home. But I know my housing condition isn't suitable for growing the slippers as they are rather fussy.

Sprays of pure yellow dancing lady orchids without the species trademark spots and markings on its petals and lip.

Look how small these papery purple orchids are!

This orchid feels so retro-groovy. I thought it was fake initially.

First time seeing more than one slipper orchid on a peduncle.

This orchid looks so bizarre! It won the Gold Medal Award and Best Bulbophyllinae Award.

Wanted to take an underside photo of this strange orchid that resembles a green squid with snake skin but it was placed close to the ground. I couldn't go any lower with my DSLR so I shot it with EX-ZR100's Super Macro mode. A compact camera really comes in handy to capture odd angles. But most importantly, it must be able to take decent shots or the effort at framing from an uncomfortable perspective will be wasted.

HDR-Art of liliac-coloured Phals. So psychedelic!

I spent about half a day taking in the sights at Flower Dome and the orchid show. I wished I had more time but I had a dinner appointment and my eyes were getting all flowery.

Really glad I made it before the show was over. I must say that the orchid show was well organised and I super like what I saw at Gardens by the Bay. Can’t wait for it to be completed.

EX-ZR100 Night Landscape mode.

As I departed Marina Bay Sands, I was greeted by the dusking skyline of Marina Bay. Oh, how beautiful it looked in that evening blue!

Like a flower that is the enlightenment of Singapore.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jassy
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 21:01:41

    flowers are really fascinating! 🙂 how it can have different colors and all


  2. Gabriel Hkc
    Dec 19, 2011 @ 00:36:02

    Very nice shots of the orchids. Can’t wait for the Garden to open officially next June. Keep it up with your blog. Highly informative.


  3. Ferne
    Mar 10, 2012 @ 14:15:31

    Hi Darren, great shots! Thanks for capturing the flower dome and orchids in such new and refreshing light! Personally love the shot of the couple in the dome. Look forward to hosting you again in June, if not earlier 🙂


    • Darren Ng
      Mar 12, 2012 @ 10:02:15

      Thanks for popping by 🙂 Yeah, I like the family shot too… filled me with a sense of warmth looking at them. Thanks in advance for having me 🙂 and your food blog makes me sooooo hungry!!


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