More green walkways for NParks' City in a Garden vision

Rachel Au-Yong Straits Times 10 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE - Over the course of two weeks, young plants have been growing along a walkway in Bukit Timah Road.

Though they are barely 30cm tall right now, they will eventually flower fully and cover the metal and plastic structure with greenery and flowers.

The walkway is one of 27 covered linkways which the National Parks Board (NParks) has greened.

And it plans to put up trellises on more of such walkways islandwide in the next three to five years.

This will also "improve the walking experience for commuters", NParks' streetscape group director Oh Cheow Sheng told The Straits Times.

The move is part of NParks' City in a Garden vision, which aims to make greenery more pervasive.

Pervasive greenery also mitigates the urban heat island effect, resulting in naturally cooler and more comfortable spaces, Mr Oh said.

In addition, there are ecological benefits as well, where biodiversity-attracting plants have been planted, he added.

Early efforts towards a green Singapore began in the late 1970s, when greenery was incorporated onto concrete walls of developments, guard rails and viaduct columns.

Bougainvillea adorning the sides of pedestrian overhead bridges, a common sight here, is one of the legacies of the initiative.

But since 2015, NParks has extended these efforts to more infrastructure. Low-maintenance climbers and shrubs are planted on roofs of bus shelters, along covered linkways, at MRT stations and on noise barriers.

"This allows more people to experience greenery on a daily basis during their commute," said Mr Oh.

Some examples of the plants used are the garlic vine, which produces clusters of lavender funnel-shaped blooms, and the Dutchman pipe, which produces large, reddish-purple flowers.

These require little water and pruning but flower frequently, Mr Oh said.

NParks has also worked with the Land Transport Authority to successfully pilot low-maintenance green roofs on four bus stops, similar to those in Jalan Ubi and Mandai Road.

Undergraduate Amanda Soh, 23, welcomed the move.

"I find the walkways useful but an eyesore, so putting plants on them would be a good way to help them 'blend in'," she said.