NParks opens three new therapeutic gardens in Singapore, with the Yishun Pond Park Therapeutic Garden and Sembawang Park Therapeutic Garden being the first two such gardens in the north of Singapore
11 Oct 2023
The National Parks Board (NParks) today opened three new therapeutic gardens in Yishun Pond Park, Sembawang Park and Sun Plaza Park, respectively, bringing the total number of therapeutic gardens in our parks and gardens to 13. With these new openings, residents in the northern region of Singapore can now enjoy and benefit from therapeutic horticulture programming and contemplative landscapes closer to where they live. Each of these gardens come with unique features that are designed to meet the diverse needs of users, ranging from seniors, hospital outpatients, to children with special needs. The garden at Yishun Pond Park was built in close consultation with Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, which is located adjacent to it, while the garden at Sembawang Park will have a Forest Classroom. In addition, the therapeutic gardens feature varied terrains, rich biodiversity, specially curated plant selections and design features that are aimed at enhancing mental health and well-being.
Bringing contemplative landscapes and therapeutic horticulture programming closer to a diverse range of users
Therapeutic gardens are specially curated and planned to facilitate people’s interactions with nature so as to improve the well-being of visitors to such gardens. Designed using evidence-based design principles, each area within the therapeutic garden is planned to provide visitors with a serene and tranquil environment.
NParks started working on the first prototype therapeutic garden at HortPark in October 2015, and launched it in 2016. Since then, NParks continues to spearhead the development of therapeutic gardens to meet the diverse wellness and recreational needs of the community.
NParks has worked with institutions to build evidence-based insights on the benefits of nature exposure on health and well-being on residents in Singapore. Benefits demonstrated by these studies include better wellbeing outcomes in participants when exposed to a therapeutic garden and higher mental resilience among participants who carried out weekly gardening. In addition, one study showed that participants who visited a park during a day were less stressed in the same evening as compared to those who did not do so.
To facilitate the design and implementation of landscapes to enhance the mental health and well-being of Singaporeans, NParks has published a set of guidelines, “Design Guidelines for Contemplative Landscapes”. The publication translates research findings on the effects of nature on brain activity into design applications for urban green design and landscape features that promote good mental health, such as those found in therapeutic gardens.
Therapeutic Garden at Yishun Pond Park
The 1,900 sqm Therapeutic Garden at Yishun Pond Park is situated next to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and is built in close consultation with the healthcare institution. The design of the garden incorporated garden elements that encompass both therapeutic horticulture and rehabilitative activities, suitable for both general visitors and hospital outpatients. Unique features that are exclusive to this therapeutic garden and built with inputs from the hospital include the wheelchair-accessible exercise bridge, mound therapy stairs, mound seat therapy, and a three-generational fitness corner with fitness equipment offering eight levels of resistance, allowing users to control the level of challenge of their workout.
Therapeutic Garden at Sembawang Park
The 2,200 sqm Therapeutic Garden at Sembawang Park comprises an Active Zone and a Passive Zone for different needs and activities. It is equipped with features specially curated for children with special needs, such as mild autism, and seniors with dementia. These features include a Forest Classroom, a Natural Playscape made of natural elements such as boulders, tepees, log clusters and wooden balancing beams, and an inclusive outdoor fitness corner. This therapeutic garden is the second largest in Singapore after the one at Jurong Lake Gardens.
Therapeutic Garden at Sun Plaza Park
The 1,700 sqm Therapeutic Garden at Sun Plaza Park features a garden brook, alongside its wide collection of shade tolerant plants including palms and aroids, such as the Silver Joey (Johannesteijsmannia magnifica) and Mojito Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta 'Mojito'). This therapeutic garden has a series of nooks connected by meandering paths with dense and diverse biodiversity-attracting plants as well as fragrant plants.
The development of the therapeutic gardens at Yishun Pond Park and Sembawang Park are supported by contributions from the Tote Board.
Intensifying nature in gardens and parks
NParks has been working with partners to introduce more contemplative landscapes islandwide and weave nature more intensively into our urban landscape. This includes establishing 30 therapeutic gardens in parks across Singapore by 2030. The completion of the three new therapeutic gardens in Sembawang Park, Sun Plaza Park and Yishun Pond Park brings the total number of existing therapeutic gardens in our parks and gardens islandwide to 13. Upcoming therapeutic gardens include ones at Punggol Park and West Coast Park.
These efforts will allow more people to benefit from such provisions in their living environment, including reduced stress, improvements in mental resilience, and desirable changes in mood and brain activity, as part of Singapore’s transformation into a City in Nature.
Organisations and individuals interested in supporting efforts to further our City in Nature vision through the development of therapeutic gardens can contact the Garden City Fund, NParks’ registered charity and IPC, at email@example.com.
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