SINGAPORE: For a year, horticulturist Melissa Tan and her team have been brewing fairy tales, flowers and technology into a new thematic attraction for Gardens by the Bay.
Slated to officially open on Apr 14 this year, Floral Fantasy will join Flower Dome and Cloud Forest as the third indoor air-conditioned garden attraction at the gardens.
The 1,500 sq m attraction is located right next to Bayfront station and is smaller than the other two indoor gardens. This is to allow visitors who are pressed for time to experience the best of the indoor gardens.
"To me, I find that it's a small space, it's got that intimate feeling," said Ms Tan, Gardens by the Bay's senior assistant director of gardens operations.
The word "magic" came up more than once as Ms Tan described to reporters how creating Floral Fantasy required both green fingers and engineering chops.
The attraction is divided into four zones - Dance, Float, Waltz and Drift - with each designed to evoke a different natural environment. Each zone draws from a wide range of inspiration, from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to fairy tales, according to Ms Tan.
From the moment they enter, visitors are greeted with a narrow path surrounded by flowers on all sides, including a canopy of blooms suspended upside down. At the end of this zone, pendulous floral balls bob gently up and down from the ceiling.
This opens up into the second zone, which is framed with bonsai plants on the left and right.
The third zone is a cavern-like structure with glow lights hanging from the ceiling. The lights provide UV rays and sunlight necessary for the flowers to survive in the darkened space.
There is also a poison dart frog vivarium, which Ms Tan estimates will eventually be home to about 30 frogs.
Speaking at the behind-the-scenes look of Floral Fantasy on Thursday (Mar 28), Ms Tan also described the challenges of working on the garden.
“We had to work with space constraints, and worked with a lot of ceiling plants which are up above," she said.
"It's not so easy when everything is planted high up. We have to keep checking for the water level (of the plants)."
Many of the flowers displayed at Floral Fantasy are flowers that have never before been brought to Gardens by the Bay. They will be displayed according to the season they bloom in.
Ms Tan explained that she brought in plants from all over the world, as she did not want visitors to feel constrained by country or geographic location.
“(We want to) bring together the most beautiful things regardless of whether they’re from the forest or the Mediterranean or the jungles of South America,” she added.
“We can mix and match things and bring out the best part of all plants.”
The walk culminates in a 4D ride: Flight of the Dragonfly. Visitors will feel their chairs moving and water splashing as they watch a short 3D clip which shows them the world through the eyes of a dragonfly weaving its way through Gardens by the Bay.
“You’ll see sights that normally you’ll not see,” said Mr Barry Wong, vice-president of training and simulation systems at ST Engineering. This is because of the different angles shown in the clip, such as one of the dragonfly plunging straight down a waterfall.
The 4D ride was created by Gardens by the Bay in partnership with ST Engineering.
Local artist Kristine Hakim will also be exhibiting her work, created just for Floral Fantasy’s Artist Corner.
“It will allow people to imagine more," said Ms Hakim of the platform for emerging local artists to showcase their work to the general public.
Ms Tan said that she reached back to memories of beloved children's stories when creating the garden and hopes that visitors might do the same.
“I hope (visitors) will get a sense of magic - that they’re walking through a woodland forest," she said.
That maybe some of them will think back on all the stories that we read about the Enchanted Forest, the Magic Faraway Tree, and maybe bring a bit of that magic from the old fairy tales and stories into this garden."
There will be a special opening promotion for Floral Fantasy tickets from Apr 14 to May 13.
Local resident tickets are priced at S$9 for adults, and S$5 for senior citizens above 60 years old and children aged three to 12. Prices will rise to S$12 for adults and S$8 for seniors and kids from May 14.
There will also be a discount for tourists, who can get tickets at S$17 instead of S$20 for adults and S$10 instead of S$12 for children during the promotional period.