The 127 year old Botanical Gardens is a beautiful retreat that is popular with the locals for relaxing and jogging. Among the world's largest botanical reserves, 47-hectare park of perfectly manicured gardens and patches of jungle is also the ideal place to view one of Singapore's most famous exports, orchids.
The gardens began in 1822 when Sir Stamford Raffles allocated a plot of land on Fort Cannings Government Hill as an experimental garden to determine the viability of nutmeg, cloves, and cocoa as cash crops. The success of his garden encouraged the development of plantations along Orchard Road, on lands owned by some of the most prominent citizens of early Singapore.
The present gardens were established in 1859 "to foster agricultural development through the collection, growth, and distribution of indigenous and exotic plants with economic potential." Laurence Niven, the owner of a nearby nutmeg plantation, supervised the layout of the gardens and the clearing of the tiger-filled jungle. Henry Ridley, the "father" of the Malayan rubber industry, served as director of the gardens from 1888 to 1912. During that time, Ridley wrote The Flora and Fauna of the Malay Peninsula and confirmed that Agnes Joaquin had discovered a new variety of purple orchid, now the national flower of Singapore.
Today the gardens provide a green refuge from the concrete world of Orchard Road and the financial district.
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