Monday, September 01, 2014

The Binjai tree in Spottiswoode Park Road

One of four Heritage Binjai Trees in Singapore
(Taken with Diana F+ with Provia 400X)
I was in Spottiswoode Park earlier this month to collect a python-skin bag to replace a cobra-skin bag that had tore under mysterious circumstances. (Snakes have very thin skin?) As I rambled down Spottiswoode Park Road, something made me cross the road to look at this lone tree standing in a field.

As I got closer, I saw a sign in front of the tree, which read:

Heritage Tree
Binjai (Mangifera caesia)

The Binjai is a large tree of the mango family, native to this region. It bears small lilac-pinkish flowers around April to June. It was commonly planted in villages for its brown potato-like fruits.

Spottiswoode Park used to be a nutmeg plantation in the 1840s. It was converted in the early 1900s into a residential area full of bungalows with gardens for employees of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company (the present Port of Singapore Authority). The then residents or estate managers may have planted this Binjai for its sourish-sweet fruits.

I went online and found that National Parks has what it calls a "Heritage Tree Scheme", and it also has  a list of criteria that it uses to "qualify a tree to be endorsed as a Heritage Tree" (i.e. cannot anyhow call a tree a "Heritage Tree".) And according to the board in a separate document, there are four heritage Binjai trees in Singapore. So if you happen to be in area and if you want to see a "Heritage Tree", this Binjai tree is opposite Spottiswoode Apartments.

Foo Dog guardian
(Taken with Diana F+ with Provia 400X)
Spottiswoode has changed quite a bit since the mid-90s, which was the last time I walked the streets to take photographs of the neighbourhood and the railway tracks. Hip cafe joints have since popped up and the tracks are gone. I've always wondered what the refurbished two/three-storey houses look like inside but I can only imagine a mix of modern with old-time grandeur just by looking at the facade.

The statues at the gate are for fengshui reasons. The Chinese Lions (Foo Dogs) represents power and prestige. I didn't take a close look and I can't tell from the picture if this is a male or female lion; I am guessing female. The male is usually seen with his right paw on a ball, which depicts unity of the empire while the female will have her left paw on a cub, which represents thriving offsprings.

The eagle watcheth over
(Taken with Diana F+ with Provia 400X)
The eagle statue represents success and prosperity.

I love taking photographs of doors but I ran out of film so I'll definitely be back. It was a hot day (like duh), so Impossible Project's color Polaroid washed out all the colors, once again. Disappointing.

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