Making Way for the New
The Banyan Tree stood about 15m high and 20m wide. Standing at the edge of the Geylang Canal, it had served as a playground, meeting point, picnic spot and more for the community for decades. With the surrounding land earmarked for development, the tree had to be managed for a canal widening as part of stormwater management efforts.
Recognising the significance of the tree in the context of the neighbourhood and the lives of the people, Lendlease knew that it could not simply be removed – more had to be done to ensure that this special local landmark lived on.
Lendlease explored various options in honour of the tree
- Canal path had to change, which was not feasible due to surrounding constraints.
- Given the nature of Banyans, there was a high likelihood of the roots damaging the canal’s infrastructure.
- As advised by arborists, the tree may not survive a relocation due to its size and age.
- The Paya Lebar community loses a precious landmark.
- The tree’s bloodline could be continued, and it could be located in a suitable and manageable location within the PLQ precinct.
Our Ideas Take Root
With relocation out of the question, Lendlease decided to propagate the tree – that is, to take stem cuttings from the parent plant and grow new saplings. The saplings can then be planted around the new development and even in different locations throughout the island, giving the original tree a chance to become more trees that will in their time enrich more environments and lives.
In total, 80 saplings were replanted – 40 were sent to a nursery, and the others were cared for by Lendlease staff in their homes or at our site office.
THE TREE LIVES ON
Lendlease held a competition, where some of its staff “adopted” saplings to nurture at home or onsite/around the PLQ office – and the best-grown sapling would be planted back on the site. Find out more from PLQ Managing Director Mr Richard Paine about the competition.
New Lease of Life
The “testing process” for this particular project was a unique one – with the saplings being live organisms, the team had to devise a plan that could ensure a high success rate right from the start. Grant Associates, Lendlease’s appointed landscape architect, shares:
After we identified suitable stems for propagation, we cut and treated them with a rooting hormone. The stems were then transplanted to the off-site nursery, where they underwent a thorough aftercare process in a nursery which was specially adapted to provide the right balance of light and shade and the most ideal humidity levels.
The propagation’s success was also thanks to factors such as irrigation, regular monitoring, pruning and the application of the correct “recipe” of nutrients. Once acclimatised, the saplings were then transferred to full sun to continue their growth.