9 new gardens have been opened at Fort Canning Park, including one inspired by Stamford Raffles: Here’s a look inside

The National Parks Board announced on Monday (May 27) that it has completed its first phase of historical restoration of Fort Canning Park.
Business Insider / Rachel Tay

Singaporeans (myself included) often lament that there aren’t many things to keep us occupied during the weekends.

But instead of lazing in bed till noon, it’s time for us to put on our hiking shoes and venture out beyond the shopping districts – and back to mother nature.

The National Parks Board announced on Monday (May 27) it has completed its first phase of historical restoration of Fort Canning Park since an initial announcement in February last year.

Spanning about eight hectares, the restored landscape is now home to nine new gardens inspired by Singapore’s heritage.

From a Sang Nila Utama-inspired garden to a garden that features 14th century forbidden baths, there are the nine new gardens you will be able to see at Fort Canning Park:


1. Raffles Garden

This garden was named after and inspired by Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore.

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Some of the plants featured here include species that Raffles encountered in South-east Asia.

A pitcher plant at the Raffles Garden.
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The Raffles House is located at the top of the hill of Raffles Garden.

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From the Raffles house, you can spot the famous Marina Bay Sands skyline in the background.

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Throughout the park, there will be signs you can scan with the BALIKSG app and launch an augmented reality trail on your smartphone. 

Following the Singapore River Trail that was launched in January, the Fort Cannning Trail was launched on Monday (May 27).
BALIKSG

I could also tap on the name of the animal to read more about it, which made the experience more immersive.

There are a total of eight trail stops along the Fort Canning Park trail.
BALIKSG

2. Sang Nila Utama Garden

The Sang Nila Utama Garden was named after the first ancient king of Singapore. Sang Nila Utama was a Palembang prince from the Srivijaya ruling house, according to the Sejarah Melayu, or Malay Annals, who first landed here in 1299.

Traditional Javanese split gates mark the entrance of new “zones” or “realms”.
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The garden, including the seats, were inspired by old palaces such as the one that stood on Fort Canning hill during the 14th century.

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Water lilies and lily pads can be seen in the garden’s reflective pond.

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Perfume plants such as gardenias and vallaris are planted for their significance in ancient Javanese culture.

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Ancient stone murals are also displayed in the Sang Nila Utama Garden.

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3. Artisan’s Garden

This garden used to be the workshop and living quarters of the craftsmen in the 14th century.

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Currently, this space is one of the last archaeological dig sites that has been retained in Singapore.

Glassware and stoneware are just some of the materials that archaeologists have discovered.
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There are interactive panels to help visitors understand the work of archaeologists better.

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Tools of the trade, such as a trowel, are also put up on display for visitors to get a first-hand experience.

The trowel was used by archaeologists to scrape away layers of fine soil around the artefact without damaging it.
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4. Spice Garden

The Spice Garden represents the spice plantation that Raffles had experimented with. 

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The spices are planted in a series of cascading terraces.

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Some of the spices planted here include basil and chili pepper.

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The road leading to the Spice Garden at Canning Rise has also been pedestrianised. 

According to NParks, the Spice Garden will be further enhanced in Phase 2, scheduled to be completed by 2021, to include a gallery trail to provide visitors more information about spices in Singapore’s history.

The shelter outside the Spice Garden used to be a taxi stand.
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5. Farquhar Garden

The Farquhar garden was named after the first British resident and commandant of Singapore, William Farquhar.

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The giant frames that are set up in the garden make the plants look like paintings in a museum.

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It makes for a great photo spot as well.

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To make the gardens more accessible, sheltered escalators have been built to connect visitors from the streets to the gardens.

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6. Armenian Street Park

Earlier last year, part of Armenian Street was pedestrianised and plants significant to the Peranakan culture were planted along the street.

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Some examples are flowers which were used in hair adornments or plants used in Peranakan cuisine such as curries or nonya desserts.

Ixora flowers planted at Armenian Street.
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7. Pancur Larangan

According to NParks, the Pancur Larangan, which is also known as the “Forbidden Spring”, was used as a bathing place by the noble ladies of the royal court of Singapura.

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The baths have since been re-created, 14th century-Javanese style.

The stone murals on the wall were handcrafted in natural volcanic rock.
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8. Jubilee Park

Many Singaporeans might remember the aquarium, swimming pool and theatre that used to be located in the early 2000s, at the Jubilee Park area (now next to Fort Canning MRT).

Now, that same space has been restored as a family-friendly area where children can play with log structures…

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Swings…

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Slides…

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And other types of play structures. According to NParks, once Phase 2 is completed, Jubilee Park will also include gallery spaces and F&B facilities.

There is also a space for outdoor performances and events.
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9. First Botanic Garden

Singapore’s first botanic garden has been restored at the foot of Fort Canning Hill and stretches into the streetscapes between the hill and Bras Basah Road.

There are a total of five zones of streetscapes including: latex and resin, timber, ornamental and fragrant trees, forest fruits and coastal riverine.

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