Jurong Lake Gardens: A Former Swamp Transformed Into Natural Wonder

Straits Times journalist Eddino Abdul Hadi’s daughters Aira Eddino and Afia Eddino at the therapeutic garden in Jurong Lake Gardens.

Faced with skyscrapers and soaring residential estates, it can be difficult to imagine Jurong as an unforgivably uninhabitable mangrove swamp. Back in the 1900s, these buildings were instead, rivers and lakes teeming with wildlife such as crocodiles. This site mostly accommodated plantation farms owned by intrepid farmers and state officials who dared venture past the labyrinth of tropical mangrove trees.

Back To Its Roots

Jurong Lake Gardens, if anything, can be best described as a commemorative ode to its more primitive days. This 53-hectare plot of land was restored to exemplify a naturalistic and unfiltered uniqueness that is befitting of its swampy heritage, with thriving indigenous fauna to further accentuate its vibrancy. 

A Stroll Alongside Nature 

Intended to perfectly emulate the dynamics between the various ecotones, the park meticulously preserves the authenticity of each terrain space by emulating its signature natural blueprint. This entails sorting out specific plant groups and appropriate species that are unique to the space. 

See this for yourself as you wander through wild purple fountain grasses that fill the vast Grasslands habitat. Also serving as a nesting ground for avians, this meadow is the perfect spot for birdwatching, as you encounter the likes of Zebra Doves, Sunbirds and if you’re lucky, the rare and critically endangered Oriental Pied Hornbill. 

The Grasslands seamlessly leads you towards the barrier-free Rasau Walk, revealing a panoramic view of the restored freshwater swamp. At certain stretches alongside the coastal edges, you’ll get to witness the juxtaposition between the natural reserve and nearby residential estates; both of which are merely separated by a meandering lake. This beautifully alludes to the park’s hopeful vision where nature and urbanization can peacefully co-exist with one another. You can also view Alstonia Island, a swamp isle along the edge of Jurong Lake. Make sure to keep a look out for otters that may lay hidden within the clusters of Nibong, Sealing Wax Palm and Rasau!

Therapeutic Garden

Therapeutic Garden; Copyright: SPH Media

A recent addition to an already flourishing trove of greenery, Jurong Lake Gardens is home to Singapore’s largest therapeutic garden. Designed as a serene space for visitors to embrace and interact with their natural surroundings, it is also the first of its kind to have a section that specially accommodates visitors with special needs. Relish in this visceral experience as you admire the garden’s ecological wonders. 

Multi-Sensational Play Zones

The Forest Ramble playground is closest to the North Carpark of Jurong Lake Gardens. Copyright: SPH Media; Photographer: Desmond Foo

Evoking elements from the reserve’s habitat zones, Forest Ramble encourages kids to indulge their imagination as they imitate the actions of some of the reserve’s most prominent animals. The site has 13 distinctive adventure play zones that thematically revolve around specific motions and movements of freshwater swamp inhabitants, from trampolines and balancing platforms to a zipline.

Clusia Cove

Those looking for a more aquatic experience can drop by Clusia Cove, which has pools that accurately emulate the tidal ripples of coastal shores. 

Global Recognition

With Lakeside Gardens being just the first phase of an ambitious transformation effort to integrate our metropolis with nature, it has already enjoyed local and international acclaim for its novel and refreshing design philosophy. It has attained a platinum LEAF certification by National Parks Board and was 1 of 12 recipients to win 2021’s Urban Land Insitute’s Asia-Pacific Excellence Award. 

Text by: Sean Yee

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