Two more healing gardens open

Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong (in blue) and Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee (using mobile phone) looking at plants in the therapeutic garden at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.
Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong (in blue) and Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee (using mobile phone) looking at plants in the therapeutic garden at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.ST PHOTO: FELICIA CHOO
The therapeutic garden at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.
The therapeutic garden at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.ST PHOTO: FELICIA CHOO

SINGAPORE - Two more therapeutic gardens here aim not just to please the senses, but to soothe the soul as well.

The new National Parks Board (NParks) gardens in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio and Tiong Bahru parks are designed to provide respite and improve the mental well-being of visitors, including the elderly, through "therapeutic horticulture" programmes.

The grounds have special features, including plants chosen for their scent. The Chinese perfume plant and water jasmine, for example, were picked because of their sweet fragrance. Since smell is one of the last senses to fade, smelling certain plants, or pinching their leaves, can evoke powerful memories in the elderly, said NParks.

Programmes held at the gardens include activities such as nature art and gardening, and were developed by NParks in collaboration with eldercare centres and senior activity centres such as Lions Befrienders.

There are also other special features.

The 900 sq m garden at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park is designed in a simple figure-of-eight layout and has different plant zones, such as fragrance, and colours and textures zones, to engage elderly people who have dementia.

There are also wheelchair-friendly spots. At the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park garden, for instance, there is a fitness area with some stations meant for those in wheelchairs, and sloped planters so that those in wheelchairs can touch the plants.

The gardens are part of the Action Plan for Successful Ageing announced in 2015, and the first was launched at HortPark last year.

Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong and Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee were at the launch of the garden at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on Tuesday (Sept 19).

Mr Lee said that eight in 10 households here live within a 10-minute walk from a green space, and the authorities hope to increase this to nine in 10 by 2030.

A fourth garden at Choa Chu Kang Park is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year.