Ancient Turkey comes to life in Gardens by the Bay’s ‘Rose Romance’ display

TURKEY – For the first time, damask roses – one of the oldest flowers in history – will be featured at Gardens by the Bay’s Rose Romance floral display.

In its fifth edition, the exhibition – which runs from June 2 to 30 at the Flower Dome – showcases close to 16,000 roses of 70 varieties, curated in collaboration with the Turkish Embassy in Singapore.

Other varieties featured for the first time include the exotic “black” roses of Isparta, Rose Eden Climber and Leonardo da Vinci roses.

Turkey is among the world’s top growers of the damask rose. Renowned for its captivating aroma, the rose’s oil has been used in perfumes for centuries.

Rose Romance aims to take visitors on a journey to the ancient ruins of Hierapolis and the rose gardens of Isparta, as well as other cultural landmarks like Sagalassos, said Ms Grace Yang, senior manager of conservatory operations at Gardens by the Bay, who started working on the showcase a year ago.

Upon entering the Flower Dome, visitors will be greeted by elements of Turkish architecture in the top-level viewing gallery. As they make their way down to the centre field, they will see Hellenistic arches and a fountain inspired by the Antonine period of the Roman Empire from AD138 to AD192. These capture the influence of ancient Greece in Turkey’s rich history, added Ms Yang.

Other features include a rose field, rose arches, and a distillery to show how roses are harvested and processed into rose oil and rosewater, as well as traditional Bodrum houses with whitewashed stone walls, and architecture inspired by the Seljuk dynasty that ruled Central Asia from the 11th to the 14th century.

To recreate a scene from the Unesco-listed Pamukkale – a tourist destination in south-western Turkey famed for its white travertine terraces with ancient thermal spa pools – colourful balloons are used to represent the hot air balloons that dot the sky above the stunning white landscape, said Ms Yang.

Over the past week, a 10-man team worked through nights – between the Flower Dome’s closing and opening hours, from 9pm to 9am – to painstakingly plant each rose and have the display ready for opening day on June 2.

One of the challenges the team faces is timing the budding and flowering of the roses for the display, ensuring that all the flowers remain in bloom throughout the entire four-week period. The team will have to remove and replace dead flowers as needed to keep the display vibrant.

“I hope visitors will delight in the variety of roses in our display, each unique in colour and size, and leave with a deeper appreciation of Turkey’s rich culture,” said Ms Yang.

The Straits Times had a special preview of Turkey’s romance with roses during a trip to the country in May, hosted by Gardens by the Bay, Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and Turkish Airlines.

The trip was organised by the Turkish Embassy in Singapore.

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