Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rhythm with Nature @ Gardens by the Bay

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The Gardens by the Bay are finally open, and apparently saw more than 70,000 visitors over the first 2 days of its opening. I was part of that crowd on Saturday evening, as I had managed to win a pair of free tickets to catch local singer-songwriter Corrinne May, who was performing as part of Rhythm With Nature. Thanks Timberland Singapore for the tickets (and the shoes), which I had won as part of their Earthkeepers 101 blogging contest.

Based on the Product Catalogue, I've won a pair of Earthkeepers® Front Country Travel ion-mask™ Plain Toe Chukka.


(Photo from Timberland Product Catalogue)

Here's the product description:
  • Premium suede or leather from an LWG Silver-rated tannery provides comfort and durability
  • Hydrophobic breathable materials combined with ion-mask™ technology by P2i shed water easily
  • 100% recycled PET mesh lining and footbed cover made from recycled plastic bottles is comfortable, breathable and environmentally conscious
  • S.Café® fabric lining is made from 98% recycled PET combined with 2% recycled coffee grounds for moisture management
  • Elasticized fit sleeve for a customized and secure fit
  • Stretch wedding top eyelet underlay for easy on/off
  • Elastic gore on medial collar for easy on/off
  • 100% organic cotton laces
  • Anti-fatigue removable footbed provides all-day comfort and support
  • Genuine leather welt is a sign of authentic Timberland quality
  • Green Rubber™ outsole is designed for all-terrain versatility
Sounds impressive. I'll definitely find a chance to break in my new shoes soon.

I didn't really get the chance to take many photos when I was there at the Gardens, so here are some blog posts by others who have managed to capture the beauty of the place through their photographs.

Posts by Jerome Lim:
A sneak peek at the Gardens by the Bay
Ascent into the Clouds
The Gardens by the Bay in the merry month of May
No wild boars here but definitely a 'wow'

Posts by Tan Genghui:
Gardens By The Bay – A Special Preview
Gardens By The Bay – A Preview & Opening Soon!
Gardens By The Bay in Singapore is Officially Opened!

Post by Andy Lee:
Gardens by the Bay opening

Post by Chan Gent Ho:
So I got to spend an inordinate amount of time at Gardens by the Bay

Here are some photos I took when on Saturday evening while en route to the Meadow with my friends Bernard and Wilfred.

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We entered the Meadow, which is a large open space perfect for large-scale outdoor events.

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Timberland, the apparel sponsor for Rhythm With Nature, had a fashion show for its Fall 2012 collection.

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The field and the surrounding slopes were crowded with people. Many of the attendees had brought groundsheets and mats, while others were sitting on the disposable ponchos that were being given out in case of wet weather.

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This is my attempt to capture 3 icons of the Marina Bay area within a single frame.

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This was the closest I got to the Supertrees. At least for now.

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I can't say that I'm familiar with Corrinne May's music, but I liked the songs that she performed. And while the Meadow wasn't as packed with people as it was on Friday night for Jason Mraz, the mood was relaxed and mellow, with most of the people just sitting on the ground enjoying the music. Overall, it was a pleasant experience. mrbrown also attended the concert and wrote more about it.


(Photo by 郑忠强)

However, I was quite upset when the concert ended and much of the crowd started to leave. Many of the attendees had simply stood up and walked off, without bothering to clear up their trash. I couldn't really see the scale of the mess in the darkness, but I kept stopping to pick up disposable ponchos, plastic cups, and cigarette boxes left on the grass.

Come on, folks, this is a brand new green space, and you're already trashing it? And there are bins around!

I'm not sure what to make of this mentality that has people failing to understand the selfishness and irresponsibility of their actions. Are we so used to having people clean up after us that we've become lazy and complacent, and no longer even think twice about what happens to the mess we create? I'm already a little fearful of the impacts of a whole array of inconsiderate acts that people might be carrying out in the rest of the Gardens. The last thing we need is to have the experience ruined simply because some people don't get the concept of shared responsibility in the upkeep and maintenance of our public spaces. Sometimes, when we try to believe that people will act in good faith, and will work together as a community to build a better society, the behaviour of some gives more ammunition to those who believe that We Can't Have Nice Things.

Complaints about littering aside, I do also have some quibbles about the Meadow, in particular the terrain and ground cover. I understand that the Gardens are still new, and that maybe the dry weather plus the trampling from all those who went for Jason Mraz had a major impact on the grass, but why is it so patchy and uneven?

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What happened? Did the grass just not grow well enough in time for opening?

The soil itself does not give me much confidence. It's practically dry, loose sand, and it doesn't take a lot of sifting to find small rocks and pebbles. Now, I'm no horticultural expert or adviser on landscaping, but this is hardly the sort of substrate I'd expect for what ought to be a lush and flat piece of grassland. Not to mention that contrary to expectations, the ground wasn't exactly flat; the uneven ground and many small rocks meant that lying down was uncomfortable. Which is a pity, because I actually think that the Meadow has the potential to be an excellent place for picnics, watching the clouds, or star-gazing.

I'm also concerned that when it rains heavily, we might end up seeing plenty of erosion, with mud getting washed onto the tarmac trails and spoiling the aesthetics of the place. Should the conditions worsen, the Meadow itself could soon end up looking like a really poorly-maintained soccer pitch, with even more bare patches and potholes where the grass simply can't establish itself and get a foothold. I know that Gardens by the Bay is featuring plenty of exotic plants from other climate zones, but I don't want the Meadow to become a showcase on desertification in the Sahel.

Is there something that can be done to improve the soil quality and the growth of grass? It's not only for the sake of users, but also so as to avoid further expenditure in reactive maintenance, rather than a one-time investment in preventive measures. Replacing the sand and pebbles with loam, levelling the ground, and seeding it with hardy, quick-growing perennial grasses and herbs that thrive in our climate, don't require too much fertiliser or watering, and most importantly, can withstand trampling, could be a long-term solution. All the attention is currently on the Supertrees and conservatories, but I'm sure the Meadow has the potential to become a new hub of activity, and I suppose it's best to do something about it before it deteriorates further.

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(Photo by Genghui)

Still, I'm looking forward to taking a day off to really slowly explore the rest of the Gardens. I do appreciate that there's a new green space in the heart of the city, with benefits not just for people, but also for the urban wildlife that will come to rely on the vegetation within the Gardens as a habitat. Let's just hope that we can all assume the shared responsibility of keeping it a beautiful and enjoyable place for everyone.

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