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.
Royal Palm Roystonea regia
The Royal Palms are found in neat rows along high school and JC carparks. Capable of growing up to 30m tall, they tower over almost all other trees around them. Even though there are many tall trees around the campus, none grows with the uniformity as the Royal Palms does. Unlike the MacArthur Palm, the Royal Palms do not have clustering behaviour. Some may mistake the Royal Palms for coconut because of their similarity: While they are certainly both under the palm family, one shouldn’t hope to get coconut from growing Royal Palms!
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 Juniper Juniperus chinensis
The Chinese Juniper is a coniferous evergreen with familiar scale-like needles forming its foliage, which may mislead some to believe that it is part of the pine family. As a beautiful landscape species native to China, these trees complement and embody the rich Chinese history and heritage of Hwa Chong. These temporal junipers have found a new home here in the tropics, adorning the exterior of Kuo Chuan House which is currently being refurbished to house the Centennial Art Gallery. However, as these junipers, similar to Weeping Willows, require large amounts of water to grow well, those around the Kuo Chuan House frequently die and have already been replaced numerous times. Luckily, the junipers growing along the river in High School are still faring well!