The orange Plain Tiger and the brown Chocolate Pansy are happily perching on their favourite nectar plant Stachytarpheta indica, the snake weed. These butterflies are frequently spotted near the international school, often in groups of three to four, bringing joy to students walking to class from Hwa Chong Boarding School. Sometimes you can also spot the black and yellow caterpillar of Plain Tiger and the black caterpillar of Chocolate Pansy on the pavement.
Happiness Tree Garcinia subelliptica
This evergreen with glossy leaves boasts young flushes that are reddish-bronze in colour, which turn quickly to bright yellow-green, then finally to dark green when mature.Every high school consortium garden, opened in the 2010s, has its own Happiness Tree. They were selected because they do not shed leaves and create a mess, making the jobs of students-gardeners tending to it much easier. They started off at around the height of an average adult human. Look how much they have grown!
Heliconia ‘American Dwarf’
Heliconia is also called ‘lobster-claws’, which vividly describes the unique shape of its vibrant blossom. Each strain has its own distinct colour combination. For the ‘American Dwarf’, the showy inflorescences of light orange are cuddled with a long and narrow turmeric yellow bract that resembles the wing of an origami crane. This unique tubular flower reminds onlookers of a toucan’s beak, and produces a berry-shaped fruit after pollination. Found scattering along the road side, its unique bright yellow flower often attracts the attention of curious students walking across the campus.
The Ixora blooms with stunning clusters of red, yellow, pink or orange flowers. The Ixora is a common flower in Singapore. Some of us are aware that one could pluck out its corolla tube, and enjoy a sweet shot of nectar from the other end! When in full bloom, the neatly trimmed bushes line Tan Kah Kee Drive with a thick ribbon of crimson blossoms. What a sight to behold! Kudos to our skillful gardeners who help to maintain these beautiful bushes all year long.
Chinese Violet Asytasia gangetica
Because of its resilient nature, this fast-growing and attractive epiphyte is often cultivated as a ground cover plant. This has also given it the reputation of being a weed, but we can’t deny that it can steal the limelight in our garden with its striking violet trumpet blossoms.
Blue Plumbago Plumbago auriculata
Plumbago blossoms one of the few flowers that boasts a hue of blue, making it a rarity among flowering plants . The fused corolla of the petal quintet are borne on rounded terminal clusters, and in Singapore flowering continues throughout the year. The name 'Plumbago' is derived from the Latin word "plumbum" meaning "lead" (the metallic element), as the plant was widely used as a remedy for lead poisoning.
Empress Candle Plant Senna alata
Senna alata has smooth, thin, leathery leaves and golden inflorescences that resemble glowing candles. The flowers are arranged in a vertical column and they bloom from the base of the column while the unopened buds on top are covered under orange bracts. Below the yellow flowers where earlier blossoms have already fallen, you can see winged pods with frilly edges extending out horizontally from the flower stalk. Senna alata can be used medicinally for its fungicidal properties, specifically as treatment against ringworm and other skin fungal infections.
Fire Bush Hamelia patens
The scarlet flowers of this plant stand out from the green leaves. When these flowers cover the entire shrub, it looks as if the green plant is on fire, thus it acquired its name as the “Fire Bush”. Interestingly, the flowers have a yellow to cream edge on its flowers. The sour fruits are edible, and it is used in folk remedies!
Lipstick Palm Cyrtostachys renda blume
The Lipstick Palm or Sealing Wax Palm has a prominent scarlet crownshaft and leaf sheath, which makes it stand out from other common palms. The hard outer wood of the stem can be used to make dart bodies. This popular ornamental palm adds a vibrant shade of vermilion to the predominantly green landscape on this part of the school. It is also not uncommon to spot bird nests built between the huge leaves of the palms. They must have been attracted to the red stems! Despite its common name, it is not a source of sealing wax. Instead, its name originated from the the similar colour of its red crownshaft and the wax used to seal letters.