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Turning Singapore into a City In a Garden

The greenery we enjoy in Singapore today began decades ago when our founding leaders put it on the national agenda.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew took an active interest in turning Singapore into a Garden City. He brought many agencies together under the Garden City Action Committee. The Committee introduced planting to HDB estates and roadsides, and introduced flora to our urban landscape, all amidst competing demands for land.


Scissors from the 18 April 1975 opening ceremony of the Chinese Garden in Jurong that was presented to Mr Hon Sui Sen (then Minister for Finance).

At the opening of Chinese Garden, Mr Hon Sui Sen said: “The early days of development in Jurong were days of intense activity which precluded too much regard of the natural beauty of the place... Visits to the Garden should provide a welcome relief from the hectic pace of life most of us are keeping.”

Courtesy of Hon Sui Sen Memorial Library.


Dr Toh Chin Chye (then Minister for Science and Technology) at Tree Planting Day in 1974.

Tree Planting Day started as a campaign to replenish the felled trees in Singapore. The first official Tree Planting Day was held on 7 November 1971 and has been an annual affair ever since.

Ministry of Information and the Arts Collection. Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.

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This is a twin campaign we are doing – one is to clean up, keep the place clean, make it cleaner; two is to make the place more beautiful by growing trees and flower shrubs... Fountains, greenery, trees at circuses and other places, and we could make this a garden city within a matter of three years...
Lee Kuan Yew, 11 May 1967

The 'Guide to Tree Planting' seen here in English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil was issued to encourage the community's support and participation in 1963 as part of early efforts to promote the greening of Singapore.

Courtesy of Singapore Botanic Gardens.

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