CHERRY BLOSSOMS IN THE TROPIC!

Cherry & peach blossoms in the hot & humid island of Singapore?  Yes, no kidding about it.  It’s happening right now in the Flower Dome, even earlier than Japan and Korea.  What a treat!

This first-ever experimental blossom display – Blossom Beats – is presented by the Gardens by the Bay.

Blossom Beats celebrates the delicate nature of life.  It features a good variety of blossoms including cherry (sakura) and peach.  The overall display was designed in the setting of a Japanese garden, decorated with a Torii (a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found in Japanese Shinto shrines), kimonos and other Japanese-themed decorations.

Torii in the midst of a variety of beautiful blossoms

IMG_2155IMG_2205 (1)IMG_2135IMG_2141IMG_2235Not all had blossomed yet at the time of my visit last Sunday (13 Mar)

IMG_2188IMG_2237Near the entrance of Flower Dome, a Japanese garden with cherry blossoms (behind the bridge).

IMG_2109Bonsai arrangement is another highlight in this two-week (only) display.

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It has been almost 9 years now since I last saw cherry blossoms and it was in South Korea.  Though I have also seen it in Japan, it was certainly a joy to have this opportunity to appreciate these beautiful blossoms again, more so for the first time here in Singapore.  I was actually hoping for another holiday in Japan later this month for a true Hanami experience in the parks but my plan could not materialise due to other commitments.  Save it for next time.

IMG_2183Prunus Accolade – pink flowering cherry

IMG_2186Prunus Yodoenis Yoshido which are white in colour

IMG_2203Peach blossom Prunus “Genpei Shidare” which is characterised by flowers of two colours – red and white

IMG_2133OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPrunus Fujishidare which has pendulous branches

IMG_2159Close-up of Prunus Fujishidare

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Cherry Shirotae (Prunus Shirotae) – known to flower abundantly. Flowers are white and lightly fragrant

IMG_2178Prunus “Okame”

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Later in that afternoon, we were treated with a beautiful traditional Japanese music performance – Blowing in the Sakura Wind : Sounds from Japan – by two renowned musicians from Japan.

Mother & son pair : Kaho Irie, Koto (Japanese stringed music instrument) Grandmaster and Yosuke Irie, Shaku Hachi (Japanese end-blow flute) artiste from Japan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis performance was a joint collaboration between Japan Creative Centre Singapore and Gardens by the Bay, held in commemoration of the 5th anniversary of The Great East Japan Earthquake (11 March 2011) and also in celebration of SJ50 (50 years of Singapore-Japan diplomatic relationship) in 2016.

I was glad that hubby could finally take a breather from his furious work schedule for many weeks now, and joined me in this special experience in the Gardens by the Bay.  I think our government should do more to enforce work-life balance in private corporations and take action against companies that make their employees work like headless chickens!!

Blossom Beats is surely one unique event not to be missed especially for those who have not seen cherry blossoms before.  I imagine it involved massive efforts from many to make it happen.  Beautiful blossoms aside, a visit to the Flower Dome is educational too, as I always find it.  There is always something new to discover, and new knowledge to bring home too.  All we need is just to pay a little bit more attention to what’s being displayed together with the flowers, like these ones below.

IMG_2129 IMG_2161IMG_2224Should there be future cherry blossom displays planned, I think it will great if the designers could consider creating a better Hanami experience like organising the trees more closely in rows and allowing visitors to walk under the trees.

This time, while the blossoms are beautiful, I find the overall display too cluttered with irrelevant decorations such as the huge artificial rocks and wood-carved monkeys from the past display (Dahlia Dreams) that was held over the Chinese New Year period.  These don’t seem to fit into the theme, and the huge artificial rocks are too overwhelming and distracting.  Perhaps there was not enough time to clear them since Dahlia Dreams had just ended on 8 March and the people had only 3 days to put up this new display.

If time permits, I may make my way down to the Flower Dome again for another round of visit before the display ends on 27 March. 🙂

More photos here

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CELEBRATION OF CHRYSANTHEMUMS

For the first time since last Monday (28 Sep), I woke up seeing the sunlight today!  I was able to see the tall building and even the ships again from my window!  What a nice way to kick off my Sunday!

For the past week when the haze was bad and the PSI readings remained mostly at unhealthy or very unhealthy levels, I stayed at home most of the time.  It was definitely not wise for me to go out unnecessarily, especially given my nose and ear conditions.  No thanks to the haze, one visit to the ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) doctor a few days ago has made me almost S$500 poorer!

So I was really glad that I was able to make a visit to my favourite place – the Flower Dome @ Gardens by the Bay – on 25 Sep when the air quality was much better that afternoon, for its new floral display named The Celebration of Chrysanthemums which started just the day before. I always like to go to the new floral display in the Flower Dome when most of the flowers are still fresh and at their best.  This latest display is the fifth of the six chapters in the Gardens by the Bay’s storytelling journey in 2015.  I went to all the past four chapters (even though I didn’t write about them all), and I won’t want to miss this and the next ones too. 🙂

Celebration of Chrysanthemums : 24 Sep – 10 Nov 2015 @ Flower Dome

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Oops, this shot was photobombed by a man and a woman (behind the wood sculpture)!  It was not easy to snap without being photobombed even though I patiently wait to have my shots.

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This is the first time the Flower Dome is holding a chrysanthemum-themed display.  The flowers are mainly from China, Japan and Malaysia.  Chrysanthemums are largely in the familiar white and yellow blooms.  They also come in a spectrum of reds, pinks, purples and ambers.  Though not as colourful as the tulips, they are equally attractive.  The chrysanthemum is one of the “Four Gentlemen” (四君子) of China and it represents autumn.  The other three being plum blossom, orchid and bamboo.

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Together with the chrysanthemums, there are also maple and bonsai trees.  As I read from newspapers, the 8 majestic bonsai trees are on loan from ChengTai Nursery, and they are all above 100 years old!  The maples (not so outstanding though) are from New Zealand.

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Beside appreciating the beautiful floral display, I always find my visit to the Flower Dome educational too, as I get to learn more about flowers, their varieties, characteristics etc. etc. – something which I had never appreciated when I was a student. I did a module on Botany during my tertiary education but unfortunately, it was a drag then!

Do you know that these daily-like flowers with a centre disk and one or more rows of ray florets (petals) are actually chrysanthemums?  This is new to me.

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Pompon – small, globular blooms

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Irregular Curve – the florets loosely incurve and make fully closed centres

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Rare Spiders – long, tube-like ray florets which may coil or hook at the end.  The florets may be very fine to coarse

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Other variety of chrysanthemums

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These are chrysanthemums too!

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It was slightly past 6pm when I walked out of the Flower Dome.  The haze had thickened a little by then and the PSI reading was climbing back to above 100 but I was in good spirits.  Thanks to the chrysanthemums!  It was nice to be able take a breather from the haze that afternoon, and soak up the autumn atmosphere in the comfortable, cool Flower Dome.

This was not all for the day.  To be continued.