In Singapore, Japanese Sakuras In Full Bloom

  • By Guan Tan

  • Travel /4 April 2018

  • By Guan Tan

It was roughly this time last year that the team at Singapore's Gardens by the Bay jumped into action. They had to start planning which cherry blossom trees Singaporeans will get to see this year. They, too, had to figure out how visitors will go about appreciating these blooms — the experience should, perhaps, be true to the actual Hanami experience in Japan. 

The Hanami is a traditional cherry blossom festival that spans Japan from late March to April. It is a coveted experience — guided tours will be fully booked out months ahead. On travel forums, the rule of thumb is to book a Hanami trip six months in advance. That aside, visitors have to consult Japanese tourism sites for the country's official blossom forecasts to accurately time their travel dates. 

It is a colossal effort. And it is only because of these Sakura blooms are incredibly short-lived. From the very moment the petals open up, the clock starts ticking. Less than a week later, these blooms will quickly wither and fall off. Its beauty is transitionary — a befitting analogy for life. 

Gardens by the Bay
 
Gardens by the Bay
 

The volatility of these cherry blossom trees makes it especially challenging for horticulturalists. This year, the Gardens brought in "23 varieties of cherry blossom sourced from Europe and Japan," Peggy Chong, Deputy CEO of Gardens by the Bay explains. When they arrived, "they had bare branches and only the beginnings of flower buds".

Beyond the import process, the bigger challenge lies in acclimatising them. "As Singapore is a tropical country, our horticulturalists have much to learn about the flowering of a temperate-climate plant like the cherry blossoms." The temperatures in the Flower Dome were carefully calibrated. Instead of the usual 23°C to 25°C air conditioning, the temperatures dropped significantly to 19°C in the day, and 12°C at night. 

Gardens by the Bay
 
Gardens by the Bay
 

When the flowers eventually bloomed, there were two highlights — the "Prunus 'Accolade' which had robust pink blooms and the Prunus 'Snow Fountain' which had a romantic weeping form with delicate, small white flowers".

The pink blossoms may be in full bloom right now. Yet, Sakura display will soon end this weekend. 

"After the floral display ends, some of the cherry blossom trees will be retained as landscape material," Chong continues. The trees may also be "used by our research team to conduct further trials on their flowering behaviour so that we can keep improving [with] each consecutive floral display." Around then, the team will restart their planning process and make next year's instalment of the Sakura display happen.