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Active Living through Gardening & Nature

by | Dec 26, 2022 | Lifestyle & Wellness, Lifestyle habits

One’s golden years are the best time to kick back, relax, and do what we were not able to do all our life – take things slow. However, while some elderly may enjoy basking in the leisure of doing nothing, others may find the lack of preoccupation to be, well, boring. If you happen to be one, or simply know an elderly who is constantly looking for something to engage in, this is definitely for you! In this article, we will be bringing you through some activities that are sure to cure your boredom.

The theme for today is Gardening and Nature, befitting our reputation as a Garden City.

Gardening is full of benefits, with research showing that it can increase an individual’s satisfaction with life, improve vigour, and better cognitive function – staving off diseases like dementia. In addition, the physical aspect of gardening necessitates the use of our motor skills. It is a great way to get some exercise in, and can help guard against ailments like osteoporosis.


Gardening Outdoors

There is no shortage of greenery in Singapore, and likewise, no shortage of green spaces suitable for gardening scattered across the island. As per the Allotment Gardening scheme, NParks allows people to lease allotment garden plots to grow plants of their choice. Each garden plot comes with a raised 2.5m x 1m planter bed, a planter box with soil inside already, and a small storage area to house one’s tools. Do take note that a fee of $57 (not including GST) will be charged per year, for the lease period of 3 years, and this fee may be subjected to change per NPark’s discretion. For more details, do visit the official NParks website. It is also worth noting that, at the time of writing this article, all plots at public parks and gardens have been leased out. Slots are highly in demand – those interested should apply for the plots once existing leases have expired!

For something a little closer to home, consider the community gardens conveniently located at various HDB blocks. Since launching in 2008, these community gardens have flourished and are now prevalent in many estates. Chances are, you have seen one in your area. To participate, approach your respective Residential Committees (RC) to find out more. Many RCs have their own gardening clubs – joining a club full of like-minded individuals is also a great opportunity to socialise and expand one’s social circle in our later years. If your estate currently does not have a community garden and you would like to launch one, you can do so by gathering interested participants in your community, approaching the RC, and informing the Town Council to obtain approval! The exact steps are detailed here on the NParks website.


Gardening Indoors

If you find outdoor gardening to be inconvenient, consider bringing the garden into your own home. And we are not talking about your regular potted plants (although that is no less exciting), there are so many more exciting options just waiting for us to explore!

Cress heads are a great way to start, not least due to how easy and no frills it is. All you need to start is some moist cotton wool, cress seeds and something to hold them together (commonly egg shells). Have fun with them! Let your creativity flow by drawing and designing whatever you want on them. These whimsical creations are sure to lift your spirits, and serve as a great conversation starter.

Another popular activity is terrarium making. Like cress heads, terrariums allow us to freely express our creativity. What’s great is that even a simple yet well put together terrarium still looks great. Compared to cress heads however, making a terrarium requires a tad bit more effort, patience, and a steady hand. But once it has been made, not much effort is needed to upkeep it.



For those looking for something more sophisticated and different, consider hydroponics. Hydroponics essentially replaces soil with a nutrient solution, which helps with reducing mess. Admittedly, hydroponics is slightly more complicated than regular gardening, but there are ready made systems available for sale. For instance, Eco City Hydroponics, located at Beauty World, offers a relatively inexpensive and accessible system. For the adventurous, you can even make your own set-up, down to the nutrient solution itself. However, this is not recommended for everyone as the entire process can be quite hard to navigate. Whichever option you opt for, do ensure to read up on it as there are a couple of things to look out for (e.g. proper aeration of the roots)!


Keeping In Touch With Nature

Perhaps gardening is just not for you, and you would rather spend your time admiring and interacting with nature. To this end, one can always explore our wide range of local reservoirs, from MacRitchie to Pandan reservoir. Less known, however, is NPark’s fairly recent Therapeutic Garden initiative. Found across the island, these gardens are specially designed to soothe the soul and uplift the spirits. From the layout of the garden to the choice of plants found inside, the purpose is to create a sense of tranquillity and promote rejuvenation. There is also a whole suite of programmes offered here, including the ‘Propagation of Edible Plants’, ‘Scent Bag Making’, ‘Leaf Collage’, ‘Gardening’, ‘Growing of Edible Sprouts’, ‘Flower & Leaf Pressing on Cards’. Interested applicants can apply here.

Author Richard Louv coined the term ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ in 2005 to describe mankind’s growing disconnect with nature, which he thought to be linked to various mental and psychological problems. Indeed, recent studies do suggest that frequent interactions with nature have a profound impact on health, including but not limited to helping with anxiety and depression symptoms, obesity, diabetes, diseases relating to the circulatory system, and all-round longevity. It is important, not just for the elderly, that we all try to seek out nature, and strive to make it an essential part of our lives.



About Growing Needs

About Growing Needs

Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.

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