The Pink Mempat (Cratoxylum formosum) is one of the tropical variants of the cherry blossom. PHOTO: COURTESY OF NATIONAL PARKS BOARD
Singapore to get its own ‘cherry blossoms’
The Straits Times/Asia News Network / 05:52 PM October 26, 2015
Singapore will soon have “sakura blossoms” in its backyard, as trees with pink, white and purple flowers are set to dot parts of the upcoming Jurong Lake Gardens.
The west side of the gardens will be lined with seasonal flowering trees such as the Malayan crepe myrtle, the rosy trumpet tree and the pink mempat.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Sunday likened these tropical plants to Japan’s famous sakura, or cherry blossom trees. “Soon, we can have our own ‘cherry blossom festival’,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Mr. Wong, who is also the chairman of the Jurong Lake District steering committee, said there will be a “deliberate effort” to plant more flowering trees at Jurong Lake Gardens.
He noted that the National Parks Board (NParks) had received many suggestions to plant such trees. These trees usually flower in February, March, August and September.
When Singapore first embarked on its greening journey 50 years ago, trees such as the rain tree and angsana were favored for the shade they provide, Mr. Wong wrote.
“Later, in the 80s, we started planting colorful flowers and foliage to add vibrancy to our landscape. Today, lovely floral blooms can be seen along our roads and in our parks and gardens,” he added.
On Sunday, Mr. Wong, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and residents in Jurong planted 50 flowering trees at Jurong Lake Park – the site of the future Jurong Lake Gardens West.
The planting was part of the Clean and Green SG50 Mass Tree Planting project, which aims to plant more than 5,000 trees from August to December in celebration of Singapore’s Golden Jubilee.
Mr. Tharman and Mr. Wong planted a Malayan crepe myrtle – a colorful tree that can grow up to 18m high. Its young, coppery-red leaves turn green on maturity, while its flowers range from mauve to pale pink and creamy white.
Mr. Tharman said that such tropical variants of the cherry blossom will give a “very nice tinge” to the western side of the gardens.
He also noted that the mempat tree, which will be planted at the gardens, was the first tree that the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew planted at the now-defunct Farrer Circus in June 1963.
Stressing the gardens’ focus on preserving nature, Mr. Tharman added that NParks is working with national water agency PUB to ensure that Jurong Lake is kept clean.
He said: “We do have a problem every time there is a heavy rain, that a lot of the silt comes in, and you can see it looks brown.”
Taman Jurong resident Murugesan Natanaprakasam, 46, welcomed these moves.
The technician and father of a six-year-old boy said: “More plants are good. It will be more relaxing when we walk here, and I can teach my son about plants and animals.”