After months of design, planning and working with various collaborating partners, NParks' new Butterfly Garden was finally opened to the public on 23 May 2009. Providing a visual feast of multihued plants and butterflies, the Butterfly Garden enables visitors to learn about the different stages of metamorphosis from caterpillar into butterfly. At the same time, it serves as a butterfly breeding area and an experimental garden for research on suitable nectar (food) plants and host plants for breeding for a variety of butterfly species, including locally extinct species such as the Clipper (Parthenos sylvia lilacinus), Common Sergeant (Athyma perius perius) and Yellow Glassy Tiger (Parantica aspasia aspasia). ButterflyCircle members were actively involved in contributing expertise, design advice, photos and support for this project.
It all started with an idea from NParks' CEO, Mr Ng Lang, who thought that having a butterfly garden and flight cage at Hort Park would be a refreshing addition to the already feature-rich horticultural displays at this 23 hectare regional park, also known as the "Gardening Hub" of Singapore.
With this, planning for the Butterfly Garden started, with staff from the Hort Excellence Division, Gary Chua and Keneric Ng who were the primary "Energizer Bunnies" behind all the work of putting the Butterfly Garden together. NParks' in-house architect, Wong Wai Sung from the Facilties Management Division, designed the flight cage and caterpillar breeding facilities, the work was well under way by late 2008.
Architectural drawings of the Butterfly Flight Cage : Copyright - NParks
I recall a couple of meetings at my office, where the team sat and reviewed the drawings and fine-tuned the architectural details of the cage, including suggesting appropriate materials, designing the footpath widths so that visitors can watch the butterflies without getting into each others' way, organising the planting beds so that maintenance of the plants can be easily done and detailing the 'sally port' vestibule to minimise the escape of butterflies from the flight cage. One meeting also included the sponsors for the automatic misting system, Netafilm Ltd.
Further negotiations with the Penang Butterfly Farm were carried out, and at a visit to Hort Park with Joseph Goh, we sealed the deal for a year's sponsorship of the supply of butterfly pupae from Penang Butterfly Farm.
Work in progress with the main structural steel elements up and in place
With all the plans and arrangements in place, tenders were called for the construction works, and the construction was under way immediately after the New Year. The flight cage was completed some time in April, and the landscaping carried out over the next few weeks, whilst butterflies were introduce into the cage to 'test run' the facilities. Appropriate plants, both host and nectaring, were selected to enhance the horticultural aesthetics within the flight cage as well as add further colour and diversity to the plant inventory.
Finally, on 22 May 09, NParks held a media briefing to the Press and a short tour for the reporters. The next day, Saturday 23 May 09, the Butterfly Garden was opened to the public for the first time.
The 105 sqm theme garden comprises an enclosed area and a outdoor garden. The enclosed area is designed as a conducive breeding environment for the butterflies, and showcases native species as well as selected species that would be researched as subjects for a "Species Recovery Programme". Visitors would be able to observe the butterflies through a viewing window and enter the enclosed area during guided walks and on the last Saturday every month. The outdoor garden enables visitors to view the butterflies and their pupae on host plants in a natural setting. Educational signage and pupae display cases are installed at the garden for visitors to learn about the life cycle and habits of butterflies.
Gary briefing the enthusiastic visitors to the Butterfly Garden
As part of the programme for the launch of the Butterfly Garden, two public talks were conducted, one by Mrs Rosalind Tan of Alexandra Hospital to showcase the "Healing Gardens of AH", and the 2nd talk by Khew SK on "Enhancing Butterfly Biodiversity in Urban Parks & Gardens".
Khew giving a public talk at the Launch of the Butterfly Garden at Hort Park
ButterflyCircle members helped to contribute their excellent photos for the A1 sized posters that adorn the walls of the Hort Park's Visitor Centre, as well as collaterals like the Butterfly Brochure as well as bookmarks.
ButterflyCircle members' work featured on A1 sized posters at the Hort Park Visitors' Centre
Text by Khew SK ; Photos by Anthony Wong, , Bobby Mun, JZ and KhewSK
Special thanks to :
- Mr Ng Lang, Mr Kong Yit San, Ms Kartini Omar, Mr Gary Ng, Mr Wong Wai Sung and Mr Keneric Ng of the National Parks Board for their advice, support and collaboration on the Butterfly Garden Project.
- Members of ButterflyCircle for their photos, advice and participation in the Butterfly Garden Project, Brochures, Posters, Bookmarks and other Collaterals.