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Sep 13, 2014

Visit of Lady Mary Wilson to Botanic Gardens in 1978

The orchid named after Lady Mary Wilson at Botanic Gardens on January 12, 1978

Lady Mary Wilson accompanied by Senior Curator of the Botanic Gardens A G Alphonso with the orchid plant that is named after her during her tour of the Botanic Gardens. Former British Prime Minister (PM) Sir Harold Wilson and Lady Wilson are on a five-day visit to Singapore on the invitation of PM Lee Kuan Yew.

The VIP Orchid Garden at Botanic Gardens, Singapore was thoughtfully sited and carefully styled as an English backyard garden of  Burkill Hall. Displayed here are the outstanding orchid hybrids of the Gardens’ orchid programme that was initiated by Professor Eric Holttum (the Gardens' third director) in 1928. As Singapore orchids gained fame, it became obvious that they should be used to promote goodwill and foster closer ties between nations. From 1957 the Singapore Government began to honour State Visitors and other VIPs by naming selected orchid hybrids after them. This prized collection of “VIP Orchids” has become an important attraction of the National Orchid Garden.  Each is named after a celebrity and all are part of the VIP orchid collection at the Botanic Gardens.

Lady Mary Wilson signing the guest book during her tour to Botanic Gardens. Looking on is Senior Curator of the Botanic Gardens A G Alphonso.

This is easily one of the top attractions in Singapore and a highly recommendable place to visit in the city, along with a visit to the National Orchid Garden, which is found within the much larger Singapore Botanic Gardens.

 The peace and tranquillity of the Singapore Botanic Gardens will strike you the moment you walk through its gates – it’s hard to believe that there is such a beautiful large garden located so close to Orchard Road.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a dynamic and living monument to the foresight of the founding fathers of Singapore. Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore and a keen naturalist, established the first botanical and experimental garden on Government Hill (Fort Canning Hill) in 1822, shortly after his arrival in Singapore.

Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of it all, is not without honour in Singapore, though means so some pragmatic Singaporeans.

When Singapore became independent on August 9, 1965, Raffle's statue was not destroyed.  Indeed a replica was made and erected on the place where he landed.

The anti-colonialists refused to distort history.  Sensibly, none of the street names were changed.  Shenton Way, named after a Governor still remains as do all the others.

Visitors say that on the face of Raffles they can discern a faint smile of satisfaction.  He should be content; his little island entrepot, now a thriving modern city-state, has not done badly in 160 years.  In world heavily dependent upon technology and raw materials, Singapore remain a tribute to men like Raffles, and to the pioneers from Britain, China, India and elsewhere, who have demonstrated what can be achived by skilful application of human resources, the only resources available in the world.

Walking down memory lanes in Botanic Gardens

Lady Mary Wilson receiving a bouquet of orchid flowers during her tour of the Botanic Gardens.

Lady Mary Wilson graciously pose a photo with staff of Botanic Gardens during her tour of the Gardens.  A memorable visit to the Botanic Gardens.

Note:  A series of these archived photos and descriptions are curated on the nostalgic blogs to share with our heritage friends.  These personal blogs to express for non-commercial and not for profit purposes; and credit with acknowledgement and thanks to the National Archives of Singapore.  Appreciate to share Singapore collective memories of the 5-day visit of Sir Harold Wilson and Lady Wilson to Singapore from January 9 to January 13, 1978 at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.  Thank you.



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