SINGAPORE – The annual display of tulips at Gardens by the Bay is back after a year – this time in October, long after tulip season in the Netherlands in April.
Instead of the Netherlands, the tulips are sourced from New Zealand, where it is now springtime.
The launch of Tulipmania on Thursday morning (Oct 7) was graced by Second Minister for Finance and National Development Indranee Rajah and Kazakhstan Ambassador to Singapore Arken Arystanov.
Gardens by the Bay chief executive Felix Loh said: “Our horticulturists have been working hard to bring this display to fruition with the support of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan.”
While most people look to Holland for its famous tulip fields, not many know that the plant originated in Central Asia.
“Tulips first appeared about 10 million years ago in the foothills of the Tien Shan mountains, on the territory of modern Kazakhstan,” said Mr Arystanov.
In the 16th century, part of Kazakhstan was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, which brought tulip bulbs back to Turkey where they were planted in the gardens of the powerful. Every year, when the tulips were in bloom, a big party was held by Sultan Suleyman the First.
Tulips became a symbol of power and wealth, and the Ottoman sultans wore a tulip on their turban. As the shape of tulips resembled the turban, the flower was named “tulipan”, or turban in Persian.
Sultan Suleyman gave tulips to important guests, including the man who managed the gardens of the emperor of Austria and later became head of the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands. The country’s first tulips were planted there and the Dutch popularised the cultivation of tulips in the 17th century.
“Tulips were scarce and expensive in a time dubbed as the ‘tulip craze’ or ‘tulip mania’,” said Mr Arystanov.
Amid the blooms at Gardens by the Bay is a yurt – the dwelling of Kazakh nomadic tribes in the steppes of Central Asia – handmade by Kazakh craftsmen using traditional techniques without the use of nails or screws.
The mobile home, which is designed to be transported by camels or horses, is on loan from the Kazakhstan Embassy.
The floral display also includes a bazaar that shows Kazakhstan’s role as a trading hub along the Silk Route, as well as towers and gates inspired by Timurid dynasty architecture, featuring blue and turquoise geometric patterns.
Tulipmania will run till Nov 14. Visitors can see the tulips at the Flower Dome from 9am to 9pm.
Admission fees for local residents are $12 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and children. Book tickets on the Gardens by the Bay website.
Those unable to visit can check out videos of the floral display on Gardens by the Bay’s Facebook page and website.
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