Botanic Gardens, Gardens by the Bay sweep top awards at mega orchid show , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Botanic Gardens, Gardens by the Bay sweep top awards at mega orchid show

The Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay swept big honours at the Asia Pacific Orchid Conference, showcasing their niches in floral display and cross-breeding technology.

About 700 hobbyists and professional growers from the region showcased their best orchids in the Singapore Expo on Wednesday, competing across more than 100 categories. This is the first time the Republic is hosting the conference.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens emerged first under the Orchid Landscape Competition, where participants were tasked to create a 25 sq m garden.

The winning plot, featuring 76 species and hybrids from the Botanic Gardens and breeders from here and abroad, highlighted Singapore’s orchid heritage and diplomacy, with visiting foreign dignitaries getting new hybrids named after them. 

Orchids in the plot include the country’s national flower Vanda Miss Joaquim and several breeds under the Botanic Gardens’ orchid hybridisation programme. The latter has created numerous hybrids for foreign politicians and celebrities including British leader Margaret Thatcher and tennis player Serena Williams.

Dendrobium The Straits Times, a hybrid named after the newspaper and unveiled at its 160th anniversary in 2005, is also among the flowers featured in the plot.

ST is the only news outlet here to be gifted a new hybrid in its name.

Dendrobium The Straits Times hybrid was unveiled for the paper’s 160th anniversary in 2005. It is on show at the Asia Pacific Orchid Conference. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

A tall hybrid plant displayed by the Botanic Gardens swept most of the orchid show’s top prizes, nabbing Grand Champion Plant, Best Hybrid and APOC Perpetual Trophy Grand Champion of Show.

The towering plant, with leaves arranged like a braid along the stem and topped off with purple orchid sprays, is a hybrid between the Dendrobium nindii and the Dendrobium Seletar Red Dragon.

Mr K. Gopalan, co-chair of the conference and president of the Orchid Society of South-east Asia, said: “Judges must be attracted by the beauty of a plant. It must be an eye-catcher. For dendrobium hybrids, the flowers must have a firm and straight structure.”

A Botanic Gardens’ entry was named Grand Champion Plant at the Asia Pacific Orchid Conference. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

The best species prize was given to Gardens by the Bay’s Dendrobium thyrsiflorum, with the orchids resembling egg yolks. The species thrives in cooler temperatures.

The National Orchid Garden in the Singapore Botanic Gardens won under the 9 sq m landscape competition. Its small plot was adorned with more than 500 miniature orchids – many smaller than a rice grain – across more than 105 species.

The competition winners received the awards from President Halimah Yacob who attended the conference’s opening on Wednesday.

The Dendrobium Thyrsiflorum that clinched the best species prize at the Asia Pacific Orchid Conference. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

In an opening speech given by the Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, he reflected on the significance of orchids in the Republic.

“Orchids are an iconic element of Singapore’s national heritage, and they have played an integral role in Singapore’s growth and international standing,” he said.

He commended the country’s ventures into orchid hybridisation and breeding as he noted that “the strong capabilities we have built up over the years in the germination and propagation of orchid seeds have allowed us to produce some of the finest orchids which have been exported all over the world”.

Mr Lee added that the National Parks Board (NParks) will be publishing a second edition of the “Native Orchids of Singapore – Diversity, Identification and Conservation” guidebook within the next few months. The first edition was published in 2013, and since then, new species have been recorded.

The conference, organised by NParks and the Orchid Society of South-east Asia, will run till Aug 20, with Singapore Expo’s Hall 2 displaying more than 8,000 orchid plants of almost 1,000 species and hybrids.

Among them is a blue orchid plant from Japan. While it did not receive an award, it drew attention because its colour was derived through the help of genetic modification.

The Phalaenopsis Blue Gene ‘311NR’ orchid that is part of the display by the Hyogo Prefectural Awaji Greenhouse at the Asia Pacific Orchid Conference. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

The Phalaenopsis Blue Gene ‘311NR’ orchid was the years-long effort of researchers from Japan who took a gene from a blue dayflower and injected it into the orchid through genetic engineering methods, said the conference’s show manager Whang Lay Keng.

Mr Dennis Lim, coordinating director of festival, events and exhibitions at NParks, said: “Blue is a rare colour in the plant world. When a flower is blue, it’s often because of a mixture of colours in the flower. The gene insertion caused the orchid to have a combination of colours that leads to the blue seen.”

The more common way of turning a flower blue is to inject dyes.

This is the first time the Phalaenopsis Blue Gene ‘311NR’ is showcased outside of Japan.

The conference that runs from 10am to 9pm throughout the five days is ticketed while entry to the marketplace within Hall 2 is free for shoppers.

SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENSGardens by the Bayflowers