Book Sales

Singapore, very old tree, 2nd edition

We are pleased to announce the release of our 2nd edition of this box set, Singapore, very old tree.

Inside the box, you get a booklet containing the stories of the 30 trees in the project, 30 postcards of the trees, a map of trees of interest in Singapore and poster of one of the trees.

Designed by gideon-jamie in Singapore
Published in 2020 by Robert Zhao Renhui
Edition of 1000

Booklet:10.6cm x 15.6cm x 0.5cm (Thick), 76 pages, soft cover, 30 images, 2C (black and silver) offset lithography on kraft paper
Postcards: 30 pieces, 10.6cm x 15.6cm each, Maple Stucco 320gsm with spot UV

Map: 7.7cm x 15.6cm (folded), 59.4cm x 15.6cm (opened)

Poster: 10.6cm x 15cm (folded), 60cm x 42cm (opened), 2C (black and silver) offset lithography on kraft paper

ISBN: 978-981-14-4946-8

Purchase book here via Paypal

Shipping to Singapore

Shipping to Asia

Shipping to Rest of the World

Note: The box which houses the contents will be the same packaging used for shipping. There will be no added packaging. The box set was designed to be shipped, reducing the need for more packaging during transit.

Purchase book here via DBSPayLah for Singapore customers only.

For delivery to Singapore, please make a payment of $45 with “Singapore, very old tree” as the message. Please also send an email to after you have paid with your delivery name and address, Thank you!

Map (Opened) Top Side
Detail of poster

Singapore, very old tree, First Edition Box Set Sold Out

We are currently printing the 2nd edition of Singapore, very old tree box set, map and postcards. We will update details of the 2nd edition here!

Exhibition at The National Museum, Singapore

At the bottom of the Glass Rotunda is the Singapore, Very Old Tree exhibition, inspired by an old postcard found in the National Archives of Singapore. The postcard depicts an unspecified tree dating back to the year 1904. Produced by renowned local photographer and artist Robert Zhao, this exhibition was first commissioned as part of the Singapore Memory Project and later exhibited as part of the nation’s SG50 celebrations. This exhibition showcases 17 images of trees around Singapore and highlights the unique stories of each, providing an alternative perspective of Singapore’s history and the personal connections that Singaporeans have with our local trees.

For more information, click here

Singapore, very old tree, – Exhibition at National Museum

Level 2,
Glass Rotunda , National Museum, Singapore

Daily from 10am – 7pm
Last admission at 6.15pm


Singapore Very Old Tree Book, now available online and selected shops in Singapore

Sales of our Very Old Tree publication begins today!

Inside, you get 30 original postcards of the project by Robert Zhao, a map of interesting trees in Singapore, and a book of write-ups.

The box set costs $40 with local postage.
For Christmas, we are having a special bundle deal: two for $72, with local postage.
Our office will be closed from the 19th December onwards so any orders made on or after the 19th of December will not be shipped until after Christmas. We will resume shipping on 28th December 2015.
 Limited Copies Available!
Thank you for your support!

Measurements : 15cm x 21.5cm x 2cm (Box), 60cm x 42cm (Map, Folded, Double Sided),  15.5cm x 10.5 cm (Postcard), 16.5cm x 11cm (Booklet, 62 Pages)




Trees of Interest in Singapore, Map, Double Sided


Detail of Box Set


Detail of Box Set


Contents of Box Set with Box


Singapore, Very Old Tree Exhibition earlier this year

National Library Singapore, Level 10. 1st May – 28th May. 10am – 9pm Daily

Book Launch and Artist Talk on 16th May, Saturday 2-4pm

Singapore is often known as a Garden City, but this is an impersonal image of anonymous trees and gardeners. Our project aims to boil this generic image down to specifics by exploring the concrete, personal connections that Singaporeans have made with trees. After all, what is loving nature without loving the individual plant?

Through our interviews, we found that people relate to plants in touching and occasionally surprising ways. For example, a group of Buddhists have been circling a rubber tree for an hour a day, for the past few years, as a form of walking meditation and to absorb the tree’s “energy”. A mangosteen tree has been sheltering a man for 20 years, since he saved it from the bulldozers. Another woman cries when her trees don’t fruit.

Besides featuring in individual stories, trees are living, breathing markers of history. The trees in our collection are of different ages. Some are old native species from pre-colonial times, when Singapore was mostly a freshwater swamp forest; others are younger trees that their owners planted from seeds.

The images on show are influenced by vintage hand-tinted Singapore postcards. In fact, Singapore, very old tree is named after the title of one of the oldest postcards in the National Archive, a 1904 picture of an unspecified tree.


Some trees in our exhibition >


In the 1960s, when he was a child, Mr Lai used to visit the former National Library with his siblings and pass by this handsome Sea Beam. Although he did not know what kind of tree it was then, it made a lasting impression on him.Now a botanist based in Pulau Ubin, he is passionate about native plants in Singapore and focuses on the research and preservation of trees here.Before the old National Library was demolished, he took his son to say farewell to the building. His son slid down the bannisters, just as Mr Lai used to do when he was young. Next, they went to stand under this old tree, where Mr Lai felt an overwhelming sadness. To his surprise, a caterpillar fell down right before their eyes. He wrote an essay on the day’s experience and his memories of the old National Library. The title of the essay was “That trees do cry”.


Mr O’Dempsey has been combing local nature reserves for the past few years in search of an endangered swamp species: Alstonia Pneumatophora. His favourite tree pictured here is estimated to be more than 100 years old. Its knee-like roots dip into the water and grow out up to 25 metres away from the trunk to breathe.

Over the last 20 years, Mr O’Dempsey has explored almost all the forests in Singapore and documents his discoveries on his personal webpage, Flora Singapura. He once found himself sinking waist-deep into a swamp before realising that it was probably better to take someone else along with him next time.


Durian Tree, Bukit Panjang

Teo Teah On, 66, carpenter

Deep in Bukit Panjang forest, there are about 100 durian trees left behind from a former kampung which was evacuated in the 1980s. Regular forager Mr Teo has been returning to this tree for the past seven years as it produces the sweetest fruit.

He believes that there are two generations of durian trees: The first being the original trees in the village, and the second being the new trees planted by former villagers to “earn” money from the government – a resident can get up to $110 for a durian tree of 3m on his land as compensation.

As for durian-picking, there are certain informal rules or etiquette. No one can lay claim to a tree: the fruit goes to those who come first. However, it is common for people to wait in two-hour slots. Some also wear safety helmets as they fear being injured by falling fruit.  




Malayan Banyan, Kallang Basin

Every day for the past few years, retiree Mr Law rides his bike from Rangoon Road to rest under this tree. On a stone bench, he reads Chinese newspapers, snipping out articles and folding them into little squares after he is done. Sometimes he takes naps. He says he likes the peace and quiet.  

He says he used to pass by the tree some 50 years ago when he was young, on his way to Gay World, where his aunt ran a stall selling tidbits and sweets.


Another regular visitor who goes by the name Mr Tan, says the place used to be called huo cheng, Chinese for fire city. He recalls that this used to be a kampung where people built boats, and the nearby Kallang River used to be very dirty before the park was set up.




Bodhi Tree, Bidadari Cemetery

Goh Si Guim, 52, perfusionist and nature lover

“This Bodhi tree is my favourite tree in the former Bidadari Cemetery. It was definitely there before I was born — its age is in excess of 50 years.

When I still had reservist in the 1990s and early 2000s, I used the Christian side of the cemetery to train for my IPPT runs. The open ground and the ups and downs of the place make good running ground. The slope on which this fig tree sits is the final leg of my run, so I will always pass by it to reach the top of the hill. On the hill, I’ll cool down, then sit down and shut my eyes.”


Malayan Banyan, Goodman Road

Jacquelyn Soo Mei An, 34, artist


This Malayan Banyan is a towering presence in Goodman Road, serving as an important landmark for various students over the years. This is because, just next to the tree is a building that has housed three different schools over the years: Tun Seri Lanang Secondary School (1962 to 1995), LASALLE College of the Arts (1992 to 2007), and School of the Arts (SOTA) (2007 to 2009). Now the building is known as the Goodman Arts Centre, housing the National Arts Council alongside artist studios.

In 2014, when there was news that trees, including the Malayan Banyan, were going to be cut down to make way for the widening of Goodman Road, artist Jacquelyn Soo stepped in with a petition to save the tree. She succeeded, and the tree was retained.


The Wedding Tree, Seletar Reservoir

Wong Yong Choon, 37, photographer


Dubbed the “Seletar Wedding Tree”, this bald casuarina is one of the most photographed trees in Singapore. Mr Wong, for one, has snapped more than 100 couples there. He remembers having to wait 30 minutes one weekend because there was a long line of couples queueing for a photograph.

Nearby, there is another tree that was probably planted at the same time, but it does not look as luxuriant. “The famous tree’s brother is dying,” Mr Wong jokes. “He must be jealous.”


“Energy” Rubber Tree, Ang Mo Kio Park

Low Yuit Ting, 60s, housewife (and friends)

If you happen to be at Ang Mo Kio Park at 6am, you may see a group of 20 people walking around a tree while holding their arms up. A well-trod path in the grass, in the form of a perfect circle, is evidence of their prolonged practice.

They are practising Ba Gua, a walking meditation. They believe that energy from the tree can be transferred to humans. In Singapore, groups of people meet in parks in Woodlands, Lakeside, Marine Parade and East Coast to practice.The Ang Mo Kio group, which includes working professionals, housewives, students, meet every morning from 6 to 7am.

Madam Low Yuit Ting says she has developed stronger legs and a more cheerful disposition after practising for three years. She used to practise alone, before the group was formed, and had attracted strange looks. She said that once, a little boy who saw her circling the tree joked aloud, “Auntie, you are going to push the tree down!”


Bamboo Grove, Commonwealth Drive

Tan Nam Siong, 72, Chua Joo Hong, 70, both retired

This small bamboo grove behind Block 74 Commonwealth Drive used to be a popular  spot for many nearby residents. It has been around for more than 15 years and stands beside what used to be a small Chinese temple along the KTM railway track. Only fragments of the temple’s floor tiles remain on site today.

Since the recent closure of a nearby car park, only two people continue to visit the grove, Mr Tan and Mr Chua. They prune the bamboo regularly to keep it from growing too wild, and have also grown papaya trees and sugar cane nearby. But most importantly, they come to visit their special friends: a family of squirrels that recognises them and responds to a whistle. Mr Tan spoils them sometimes with hand-picked durian from two nearby trees.

Exhibition View>





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The start of our island-wide tree planting campaign

Lee Kuan Yew Planting Tree

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew planting a mempat (cratoxylum formosum) tree at Holland Circus (junction of Holland Road, Farrer Road and Queensway) to mark the beginning of his tour of Ulu Pandan constituency. The ceremony also signified the beginning of an island-wide tree planting campaign. – 1963. Photo : National Archives Singapore


Han Rambutan Orchard

Rubber Tree

Managed to find one of the Rambutan trees from the former Han Rambutan Orchard! Does anyone remember visiting this Rambutan Orchard? The orchard was also a place for the literati to meet and convene, away from the city, and had the best rambutan species from around the region. Old Upper Thompson Rd. 1003 Singapore.


Chief Gardener of Singapore

Chief Gardener

To the chief Gardener of Singapore, Thank you for all the trees. Gardner at Botanical Garden, Hand-tinted, c.1910.

PM Lee Hsien Long on his father
“But there were other areas he felt very strongly about and let his views be known. For example, on greening Singapore, he had very definite (views), his determination that this place should be clean, green and beautiful is maintained till today. He planted at the first tree planting 50 years ago and he had just planted another one recently.

A couple of years ago, the Istana staff put up a proposal, somewhere along the boundary, the fence; they wanted to trim a few trees, to improve visibility and security. I was going to agree and he sent me a note to say, are you sure you need to do this? This place is green, and we make it a point to make this place green, and we have got birds and wildlife. You want to keep it like that.

So in the end, I didn’t cut the trees down but he felt strongly about (the issue).


Tree Climbing Postcard

We want our Singapore coconuts, where did they go? (Free)Climbing Cocoanut, Singapore, Katong, 1910.


Banana Tree Postcard

Hand Tinted, Banana Tree, Singapore. Straits Settlements. ‪#‎SG100‬