SINGAPORE – From Vanda Miss Joaquim to Papilionanda (Vanda) Tan Chay Yan, from Aranda Noorah Alsagoff to Aranda Bertha Braga, these orchid hybrids that were the brainchild of local breeders were of such superb quality, that Singapore was catapulted to international prominence in the orchid world. In fact, Singapore was once one of the largest exporters of orchids, and by the late 1990s, the local orchid industry had grown to become a multi-million dollar one.
Orchid Stories of Singapore display in Cloud Forest showcases more than 40 local hybrids and regional hybrids whose lineages come from Singapore hybrids. Detailed storyboards documenting how orchids became intertwined with Singapore’s history, culture and economy, beginning in the late 1800s are also on display.
This display traces the evolution of the role of the orchid in Singapore, beginning from the early days when the first orchid collection was established in 1875 and became a hobby of the privileged in society – eventually leading to the creation of the iconic Vanda Miss Joaquim in 1893. The orchid display also explores the maturation of orchid hybridisation efforts in the 1950s as local breeders honed and refined their techniques, and the exceptional hybrids that were produced between the 1950s and 1980s – the peak of Singapore’s orchid hybridisation efforts.
Singapore’s orchid industry is now focused on maintaining its position as a world-renowned orchid cultivation and hybridisation centre. Further improvements and breakthroughs, to create new colours and longer-lasting and showy hybrids, are planned. New breeding lines leading to plants with better genetics that will result in better flower texture, bigger flowers and more intense colouration – qualities long sought by orchid breeders and growers, are also being developed.
Since 2015, Gardens by the Bay is able to focus on novel lowland-highland orchid crosses through its own orchid hybridisation programme, which brings together the best qualities of either parent from two distinct climatic regions, and enables horticulturists to develop hybrids that are able to grow and flower in a broad range of temperatures.
One such unique hybrid, Dendrobium Kiat Tan, will be on show at Orchid Stories of Singapore. Tropical hybrid orchids bred by the Gardens’ horticulturists, such as Dendrobium Moses Lee and Papilionanthe Wong Siew Hoong will also be on show.
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