Ashkhen Hovakimian (Agnes Joaquim), Creator of Singapore’s National Flower

Ashkhen Hovakimian (Agnes Joaquim), Creator of Singapore’s National Flower

Who she was

Ashkhen Hovakimian, also known as Agnes Joaquim, was born in an Armenian family in Singapore in the mid-1800s. She became a prominent horticulturist during her lifetime and successfully created the flower that would eventually become Singapore’s national flower. 

Hovakimian discovered her passion for horticulture and botany while growing up in a family that had a deep appreciation for these pursuits: her father was a board member of the Singapore Botanic Gardens and her mother was an avid gardener. Her family would regularly participate in the Singapore Flower Show, where many family members, including Ashkhen, would win prizes. 

In 1893, Hovakimian brought a plant she had created to the Вirector of Singapore’s Botanic Gardens, Henry Ridley. The Vanda “Miss Joaquim” was a cross between Burmese and Malay orchids, making it one of the first hybrid orchids ever — and the first one created by a woman anywhere in the world. 

Almost 100 years later, in 1981, Hovakimian’s creation was chosen as the national flower of Singapore. She was inducted into Singapore’s Women’s Hall of Fame in 2015. 

Interesting fact

Ashkhen Hovakimian is buried at the cemetery of the Armenian church in Singapore. 

Learn more about her

Singapore National Parks: About the Vanda Miss Joaquim