Home to almost one and a half million plants and regarded as one of the top attractions in Singapore with over 50 million visitors to date, Gardens by the Bay has been as much a model for sustainable development as it is a tourism magnet. Since its conceptualisation in 2004 to its official opening in 2012, the Gardens has grown to become the iconic cornerstone of our “City in a Garden” vision, providing a hot spot for horticultural recreation that is close to our hearts.
Like how every garden can only flourish as well as the hands who prune and nurture it, the cementing of Gardens by the Bay’s status as a green gem in the City in a Garden is all thanks to the dedicated team behind it, who is rooted in the Gardens’ mission of creating a world-class experience for all. BrightSparks speaks with two recipients of the Gardens by the Bay Undergraduate Scholarship, Lee Xiaoyi, 37, and Eunice Phua, 26, on life working at Gardens by the Bay – and the doors which the scholarship has opened for them.
Gardens by the Bay Undergraduate Scholarship
Assistant Manager (Gardens Operations)
Bachelor of Applied Science (Horticulture) – The University of Queensland
What made you apply for the Gardens by the Bay Undergraduate Scholarship?
Xiaoyi: I joined Gardens by the Bay in 2010 during the development of the Gardens. As development works drew to a close with the Garden’s official opening, I was considering if I should further my studies to obtain a degree. However, I did not wish to leave my job as I really enjoyed working here. I was very fortunate to be offered the scholarship so I could continue to work here after graduation.
Eunice: I had always planned to further my studies after getting a diploma to gain more knowledge and obtain a degree. However, due to financial constraints, I decided to work for two years to save up for my undergraduate studies. During this period, I was very fortunate to be offered the Gardens by the Bay Undergraduate Scholarship so I could further my studies at University of Queensland.
What opportunities have the scholarship presented you with?
Xiaoyi: The scholarship gave me an opportunity to meet people in the horticulture industry overseas. During my studies at University of Queensland, I had the chance to visit cut flower nurseries, fruit orchards, turf grass nurseries, and parks. It was truly an eye-opening experience to see how they operate in Australia. I was particularly impressed with their application of advanced technologies, such as the use of GPS, drones, and image-processing software to achieve greater precision in their sustainability efforts and to eliminate wastage. This is definitely something we can learn from and introduce to the horticulture industry in Singapore.
Eunice: During my studies overseas, I learnt to live independently, which was an experience that we won’t get much in Singapore as most of us stay with our parents. It was also an eye-opener for me as we got to explore many different places in Australia to learn about their plants and culture. The most memorable places I went to in Australia were the Glass House Mountains and Spring Brook National Park, where we got to see waterfalls and caves. I also learnt about the different technologies used for agriculture, as well as the challenges Australians face in the horticulture industry and how they took steps to overcome them.
Gardens by the Bay Undergraduate Scholarship
Manager (Conservatory Operations)
Bachelor of Applied Science (Urban Horticulture)
– The University of Queensland
What do you find most fulfilling about your role managing garden operations?
Eunice: The most fulfilling part of my job is when I see my plants growing to their maximum potential, and visitors enjoying their time in the Gardens, appreciating the beauty of nature. Sometimes, we receive feedback from visitors saying that Gardens by the Bay is amazing and our team did a wonderful job maintaining it. This gives me a great sense of accomplishment.
What are the steps Gardens by the Bay is taking to reinvent itself and stay at the forefront of horticulture and tourism?
Xiaoyi: Gardens by the Bay is constantly pushing the boundaries of botanical possibilities and thinking out of the box in our presentation of plants to evoke a sense of wonder among visitors and provide a garden experience unlike any other in the world. We continue to explore new plant materials to bring into the Gardens, and curate floral displays together with programmes to enhance visitor experience. The Gardens also collaborates with established overseas gardens to organise exchange programmes where staff have the opportunity to work, learn, and bring home with them the best horticultural practices to share and build upon.