Established in 1859, Singapore's Botanic Gardens has served as a park for Singaporeans and visitors, a scientific institution, and a testing ground for tropical plantation crops. Each function has its own story, while the Gardens also fuel an underlying narrative of the juncture of administrative authority and the natural world.
Created to help exploit natural resources for the British Empire, the Gardens became contested ground in conflicts involving administrators and scientists that reveal shifting understandings of power, science and nature in Singapore and in Britain. This continued after independence, when the Gardens featured in the "greening" of the nation-state, and became Singapore's first World Heritage Site.
Positioning the Singapore Botanic Gardens alongside the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and gardens in India, Ceylon, Mauritius and the West Indies, this book tells the story of nature's colony—a place where plants were collected, classified and cultivated to change our understanding of the region and world.