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“Orchids of Singapore Botanic Gardens and Their Heritage" exhibition

10 Jul 2015

“Orchids of Singapore Botanic Gardens and Their Heritage" exhibition

Orchids have a strong association with Singapore and are closely tied to the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ history and heritage. At the exhibition, visitors will gain insights into the Gardens’ rich orchid heritage and its valuable contributions to the orchid industry. The exhibition also highlights the Gardens’ role in promoting the public’s appreciation of this family of plants and the conservation of Singapore’s native orchid species.

The “Orchids of Singapore Botanic Gardens and Their Heritage” exhibition will be held at the Function Hall at the Botany Centre and is made possible by the generous support of PICO. The exhibition will run from 10 July to 10 August 2015, from Monday to Sunday from 9am to 8pm. Entrance is free. For more details on the exhibition, visit

Exhibition Highlights

Featuring over 16,000 orchid plants, the exhibition focuses on the Gardens’ history and affiliation with orchids. It showcases the Gardens’ role in research, namely the orchid breeding programme, from its early beginnings to the introduction of the in-vitro and micropropagation techniques. Visitors will also get to learn about the natural history and biology of orchids; its historical and economic significance; and orchid conservation.

Heritage Orchids

Singapore has been a centre of orchid breeding from the 1930s. Some early hybrids have left important footprints in the world of orchids and have become part of Singapore’s floral heritage. These include hybrids that have received international awards and orchids that have become important in the cut-flower trade or have been named after historical figures. Some are important as breeding stock for many of today’s hybrids. 

This is the first time that the heritage orchids are exhibited at this scale outside of the National Orchid Garden for all visitors to appreciate and enjoy. Prominent heritage orchids that will be on display include the Papilionanda Tan Chay Yan, Arachnis Maggie Oei, Aranthera Beatrice Ng, Aranda Noorah Alsagoff, Aranthera Anne Black, and Oncidium Goldiana ‘Golden Shower’.

Heritage Orchids

VIP Orchids

Many visiting heads of states have been presented with orchid hybrids named after them since 1956. Orchid diplomacy serves as a gesture of friendship to promote goodwill between Singapore and other countries, and it plays an important role in building bilateral ties. There are more than 200 orchids named after dignitaries to date. Orchids have been named after state dignitaries such as Prince William and his wife Kate, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations and spouse, and the late Nelson Mandela. Orchids were also named after Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his wife Kwa Geok Choo. An important attraction at the National Orchid Garden, these VIP Orchids are regularly on display at the VIP Orchid Garden located behind Burkill Hall.

The exhibition will showcase several specimens from this prized collection of VIP Orchids. Visitors can look forward to viewing the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew, Vanda Kwa Geok Choo, Papilionanda William Catherine and Papilionanada Ban Ki-moon Yoo Soon-taek, which will be on display. 

VIP Orchids

Celebrity Orchids

Besides the VIP Orchids, the Gardens also acknowledge celebrities who had contributed significantly to the society by naming new orchid hybrids after them. Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, popular Korean actor Bae Yong Joon, Bollywood veteran Shah Rukh Khan, renowned Italian classical tenor Andrea Bocelli and local singer/song writer Stefanie Sun are among the many celebrities with orchids named after them. Some of these celebrity orchids will be on display at the exhibition.

Celebrity Orchids

National Orchid Garden

Opened in 1995 by then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the National Orchid Garden was built at the Singapore Botanic Gardens to display the many varieties of orchids grown in the tropics. It has since been the world’s premier orchid garden, with the largest and most comprehensive tropical orchid display in Asia with more than 2,000 varieties of orchid hybrids and 1,000 varieties of orchid species. The National Orchid Garden is also a ceremonial venue for the naming of orchids after dignitaries and celebrities. 

This year, the National Orchid Garden celebrates its 20th birthday, and the exhibition marks a key milestone of the Garden. 

Orchids in Botanical Art

As part of this exhibition, the Singapore Botanic Gardens will showcase its own collection of orchids in botanical art featuring reproductions of 12 orchid illustrations such as native orchids, important species in orchid breeding, and orchids from the region. Among the prints on display are orchid drawings by Charles de Alwis who was under the directorship of the first director of the Gardens, Henry Ridley (1888 to 1912).

Pop-up Stores

Singapore’s five leading nurseries, Neo Cheng Soon Farm, Toh Garden, Woon Leng Nursery, Song Orchids and Hua Hng Trading Co., will set up pop-up stores at the Orchid Plaza in front of the National Orchid Garden on 11 and 12 July. They will offer a wide range of gardening products for plants and orchids. Please visit for more details. 
Last updated on 09 July 2018

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