Having plumed its bright sage-green suit and fixed its rufous collar tie, this slender migrant stares vigilantly into space on the rooftop garden outside Jingxian Library, on an outlook for the sight of bees patronising the pots of bougainvillea flowers. This bird can be told apart from its less common blue-throated relatives from its rufous throat. “Chiwi”, you might hear this shrill call as it takes flight in excitement and darts towards its prey.
Bougainvillea Bougainvillea glabra
The papery texture of these “flowers” almost looks similar to origami crafts. If you stop to look closely, will you realise that what you have always mistaken as its petals, are really just the bracts meant to attract pollinators. Indeed, small cream-coloured flowers can be found hidden within the bracts. Common colours of these bracts include purple, white, orange and yellow; ‘rainbow-coloured’ Bougainvillea with bracts of two or more colours on the same plant, are also often seen. The Bougainvillea has come to be synonymous with the Singapore landscape. It is extensively planted here because of the explosion of colours it brings to our hot, tropical environment all year round.
Willow 旱柳 Salix matsudana koidz
The 6 echoing shoutouts in one of Hwa Chong’s cheers, ‘Willow willow willow willow willow willow!’, refers to the 6 willow trees beside the Clock Tower. The willow is used for ornamental purposes. Its ethereal pendulous stem and slender leaves on their supple, dangling branches reminds one of the Rapunzel’s luxurious locks as they sway gracefully in a breeze, giving an enchanting appearance to the landscape. This was exactly the landscape that DP Mr Tan Pheng Tiong sought after as he looked for trees to complement the existing ones in school. In the past, this species of willow, also known as 旱柳 in Chinese, were seldom seen around the school. In fact, they were only planted after their close relatives, the more commonly known Weeping Willow (or 垂柳), were unable to grow well under Singapore’s hot climate and away from a water body. Soon, the Salix matsudana koidz have become a common sight within the campus, presenting a similar scenic effect as the Weeping Willow, despite having stiffer and shorter leaves.
Trumpet Tree Tabebuia rosea
The Trumpet Tree’s name originates from its white or pink trumpet-shaped flowers. The 4 trees residing in the garden between the Block B’s buildings contribute to most of the foliage due to their widespread branches and dense leaves, separating the hustle and bustle in the Science Labs in one building, from the classrooms in the one opposite. However, this tree is no ordinary tree, for it is well known for its rare but stunning display of sakura-like flowers that covers the entire tree after a dry spell. Over a few days, the fallen blossoms would accumulate to form a beautiful bright carpet of pink flowers. It is certainly quite an eyeful for students and teachers who walk past the garden!