I commute between San Francisco, Jakarta, and Singapore regularly and being an urban person, I love seeing gardens and parks in the city, as they provide the much-needed peace, tranquility, and fresh air in the midst of a hectic life.
These three “super gardens” are my favorite urban parks, which aren’t like any other parks elsewhere else in the world. Aside from their breathtaking beauty, they’re also historical and scientifically received for both natives and tourists alike, as they bridge the past and the future with their present existence.
- Jakarta, Indonesia
My favorite urban garden in Jakarta is known as the Bogor Botanical Gardens (Kebun Raya); a botanical garden located in a suburban town Bogor, which is located 60 km south of Jakarta. It’s open to the public and is currently operated by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.
The garden is next to Istana Bogor, also known as “Istana Bogor” or The Bogor Mansion, where the current president of Joko Widodo resides. If you’re lucky, you might be able to peek into his front yard!
The botanical garden is 87 hectares in size and home to 15,000 tropical plant collections – a note to botany students who would find it especially interesting. There, you can visit Herbarium Bogoriense, Bogor Zoological Museum, and the library.
It was originally created as a part of man-made forest during the pre-colonial kingdom of Prabu Siliwangi (1474-1513). In the 1800s, Thomas Stamford Raffles resided at the Istana Bogor and had a passion for everything botanical. With the help of botanist W. Kent, Raffles turned it into the classic English garden that we know today.
Almost every postcard of Singapore depicts the majestic Marina Bay Sands and Garden by the Bay. The former is an upscale shopping mall and a five-star hotel that comes with a Titanic-looking ship atop the two buildings, with the latter being an awe-inspiring 101-hectare garden with waterfront views across three gardens.
The Garden itself was a reclaimed land located next to Marina Reservoir, with three distinctive gardens in the Bay South Garden with its giant trees, the Cloud Forest with a 35-meter tall mountain with lush vegetation amidst the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, and the Flower Dome, which houses desert plants. They are breathtaking to look at and provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience when you stroll along the lush high-tech walkways.
The Garden is so awe-aspiring that it was chosen as the backdrop of a Hollywood movie Hitman: Agent 47 (2015). It was based on the popular Hitman video games. Rupert Friend played a mysterious assassin known as Agent 47. While the movie garnered much international attention, the garden is well known as UNESCO has declared it World Heritage.
- San Francisco
The Presidio Park of San Francisco is the largest of these three special gardens with a size of 600 hectares. Originally called El Presidio Real de San Francisco or The Royal Fortress of Saint Francis, this park was a former military base located at the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula. Today, it’s a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Its history spans across 3 centuries. It was first fortified by New Spain on September 17, 1776. Later, it was passed to Mexico, which handed it over to the United States in 1848. In 1989, it gained a new status as a national park, ending 219 years of military use.
Visitors can enjoy wooded areas, hills, and sceneries overlooking the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. If you haven’t been to the Presidio Park, you haven’t been to San Francisco.
An adage said, “Happiness is a blooming garden.” I can’t agree more. I’m happier and more in touch with myself whenever I stroll in a garden. How about you?