January 1876

After a fortnight I went to stay at Government House with Sir William and Lady Jervoice. It was a huge building with fine halls and reception-rooms, but very little bedroom accommodation. It stood on the highest hill of the district, and overlooked all the town of Singapore, its bay and islands, and miles of the richest country covered with woods and cocoa-nuts. Close under my window was a great india-rubber tree with large shiny leaves and fantastic hanging roots.

Bird on branch of tree in Singapore Botanical Gardens

In front of the garden was a gorgeous tree of Poinciana regia blazing with scarlet blooms. I immediately begged a branch and hung it up to paint, but made a most absurd mistake. I placed it the wrong way up. It was stupid, but I was consoled afterwards when I found that that clever Dutch lady, Madame van Nooten, had actually published a painting of the poinciana growing in the same topsy-turvy way ! Nothing approaches this tree for gorgeousness ; the peculiar tender green of the acacia-like leaves enhances the brilliancy of its vermilion tints.

Pink flower with raindrop

The amherstia was also in great beauty in the same royal garden, with scarlet pods and delicate rosy-lilac young leaves. The beaumontia creeper was there too, with its white waxy bells and beautifully embossed leaves. It was curious to see how little the English cared for these glories around them. Lawn-tennis and croquet were reigning supreme in Singapore, and little else was thought of after business was over.

Box showing rubber from 1904, in the Singapore Botanical Garden