Singapore stories by Singapore's largest independent publisher of fiction and non-fiction for all ages.

Agnes and Her Amazing Orchid chronicles the remarkable journey of a brilliant horticulturist. An excellent introduction to our national flower, this wonderful book also provides a glimpse into the orchid breeding process.”

Kenneth Er, Chief Executive, National Parks Board



Agnes Joaqium

A 19th Century woman.
A daughter of the Soil.
A Passion for horticulture.

A woman of intelligence, determination and skill overcomes challenges to create a new hybrid orchid. The first of its Genus and the first woman in the world to create a hybrid

In 1893 recognition of her achievement by a giant of 19th & 20th Century Botany – H. Ridley. And acknowledgment from half a world away – Britain. The orchid is gifted to a famous orchid collector and head of the Royal Horticulture Society.

It blossoms and is shown at the 1897 Flower Show. Wins a First-Class Certificate – accolades from scientists follow. Praise in leading horticultural journals flows. It debuts in Singapore 2 years later and wins top prize for the ”Rarest Orchid”.

Sadly 3 months later in 1899, its creator Agnes Joaquim dies at the age of 45.

In 1924, Vanda Miss Joaquim is taken to Honolulu and the beginnings of Hawaii’s commercial orchid industry take root.

Back home its hardy, free flowering properties make it the orchid in every flower shop in Singapore and it travels the world as a unique gift and ambassador for Singapore. At its height it is the most commercially successful orchid in the world.

It inspires the development of orchid hybridizationfor commercial purposes in Singapore and today the country has achieved a world class scale.

As more hybrids appear however, her achievement and Agnes herself fade into the dust of time. And a new narrative emerges.

Agnes had ‘discovered’ the orchid.

Years of controversy follow. Myths abound. Scientists arrogantly refute the possibility that a woman could have achieved this hybrid orchid. Especially, in Singapore in the 19th Century.

Then in 1981, Vanda Miss Joaquim is selected to be the National Flower of Singapore. Interest in the orchid reaches fever pitch, yet still the myths of her ‘discovery’ rage on.

Luckily not everyone agrees.

Many years later, efforts by a number of people and years of robust research reveal that Agnes Joaquim did indeed cross two orchids – Vanda Hookeriana and Vanda teres – to create the Vanda Miss Joaquim.

Her achievement is acknowledged by the government. Her good name restored.

To commemorate the 125th anniversary of the creation of the Vanda Miss Joaquim, a limited edition book and t-shirt package is made available while stocks last. The package will contain one Agnes and Her Amazing Orchid picture book and a limited edition 125th Anniversary Agnes T-shirt for children, sealed with a commemorative sticker seal specially created for this anniversary. 

Get your bundle here.

 Activities for Agnes and Her Amazing Orchid

August 11, 2018
Garden Terrace, Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore

Meet the Author and Storytelling session

Jul 21, 2018
National Museum of Singapore

Writing History for Our Children

Nov 04, 2018
Empress Lawn, SWF Empress Tent 

Meet the Author and Storytelling session