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NParks opens two more healing gardens

SINGAPORE — Two new therapeutic gardens — designed to provide respite and improve the mental well-being of visitors, especially seniors — were opened yesterday at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Tiong Bahru Park.

The 900 sq m therapeutic garden at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park has different plant zones, such as a fragrance zone, colours and textures zone, and a biodiversity zone, to help slow down the progression of dementia in elderly people. Photo: NParks

The 900 sq m therapeutic garden at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park has different plant zones, such as a fragrance zone, colours and textures zone, and a biodiversity zone, to help slow down the progression of dementia in elderly people. Photo: NParks

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SINGAPORE — Two new therapeutic gardens — designed to provide respite and improve the mental well-being of visitors, especially seniors — were opened yesterday at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Tiong Bahru Park.

With three such gardens, including the first one at HortPark, and a fourth slated to open in Choa Chu Kang Park next year, the National Parks Board (NParks) said the network of such gardens is one of the key initiatives under the Action Plan for Successful Ageing announced by the Ministerial Committee on Ageing in 2015.

The 900 sq m therapeutic garden at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park has different plant zones, such as a fragrance zone, colours and textures zone, and a biodiversity zone, to help slow down the progression of dementia in elderly people.

For instance, fragrant-smelling herbs, such as lemongrass, have been picked to evoke memories in the elderly; brightly coloured plants like creeping daisies to help uplift their moods; and ixora and lantana plants attract butterflies and bees.

The garden also has raised planter beds of different heights, so that wheelchair users can interact with plants and flowers at a lower height. For seniors who find it difficult to bend down, they can use the planter beds which have been raised higher to do their gardening.

NParks has also developed customised therapeutic horticulture programmes to help increase social interaction among seniors and improve their well-being, such as propagating edible plants, making scent bags, leaf collages, as well as flower and leaf pressing on cards.

Speaking at the launch of the garden at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said that he knew of many seniors who would “love to get back to the soil and grow plants, vegetables and fruit trees”.

Currently, eight in 10 households in Singapore live within a 10-minute walk from a green space, and the Government hopes to raise this to nine in 10 by 2030.

“These green spaces are wonderful areas for recreation, relaxation and enjoying the peace of mind that only verdant and green spaces can provide … The journey to create a city in a garden for Singaporeans of all ages is one that we have to take together,” said Mr Lee, who is also the Second Minister for National Development.

Retiree Loy Boon Ngeow, 71, who spends more than five hours doing gardening daily at the herb and community gardens at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, said that he contributed some herbs, such as Indian borage and coleus plant, to the new therapeutic garden.

“I (love gardening) because it helps me pass the time, and you feel happy doing it,” he said.

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