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"Sexy Pink" Heliconia chartacea, Botanical Gardens, Singapore | by Rana Pipiens
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"Sexy Pink" Heliconia chartacea, Botanical Gardens, Singapore

In one of the Ancient Classical Legends about Tiresias - the strong hunter who descended from the dragon teeth once sowed by Cadmus - he on Mount Helicon saw the beautiful - no doubt sexy, pink - goddess Athena bathing in a river. In wrath she struck him blind, and he could no longer hunt, of course. But he was granted the gift of prophecy instead (which, incidentally, brought him only grief) and became a poet.

This beautiful Heliconia chartacea, indeed called "Sexy Pink", is found naturally in South America (Guinea and Brazil). Its pink is unusual for Heliconia, and it immediately strikes the eye, even in a garden with as much to see as the marvellous Botanical Garden of Singapore.

When Singapore was founded by Sir Thomas Stamford Bindley Raffles (1781-1826), he had almost immediately established an experimental garden in 1822. He meant it to foster understanding of the cultivation of plants and spices good for the trade of the (British) East Indian Trading Company. But his experiments with nutmeg and clover failed, and after his death the gardens on Government Hill at Fort Canning were discontinued because, doubtless beautiful, they were also also too expensive for the money-pinching authorities.

But in 1859, the Agri-Horticultural Society established the Botanical Garden at the present location on Napier Road. This is where I took this photo; as far as I could see, there were only a few of these delicate "Sexy Pinks" among very many of the other Heliconia varieties of which one can be seen all bright yellow and red in the right background.

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Taken on June 21, 2008