12 Feb '12, 5am

Singapore honours celebrities, dignitaries with orchids

(AFP) - Cuddly pandas are China's ambassadors of soft power and other countries use money or culture to enhance bilateral ties, but Singapore prefers to say it with flowers - orchids, to be exact. The tropical city-state cultivates special orchid varieties and names them after a motley mix of foreign leaders and celebrities as part of its diplomatic repertoire. What is striking in the VIP and Celebrity Orchids sections of the National Orchid Garden - part of the 63-hectare (156 acre) Singapore Botanic Gardens - are the famous names rather than the variety of blossoms. There's the pastel-white Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana named after the tragic British royal and the star-shaped Paravanda Nelson Mandela in honour of the South African freedom icon. More recently, the bright pink Ascocenda Yingluck Shinawatra was presented to the Thai prime minister.

Full article: http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/...

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