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Recommended to me by reader Dave, whom I sent to Dubai back in 2010, Gardens By The Bay is Singapore’s answer to urban sprawl within a nation that is smaller than 76% of the world’s countries.On the very last night of my visit, several hours before departing to Sydney, Australia, I hastily showed up around 8pm…immediately regretting the limited time I had allotted myself and camera.Bay South Garden (designed by Grant Associates) was completed in 2012, Bay East Garden’s first phase finished in 2011 (Gustafson Porter), and Bay Central Garden is currently in the planning stages.
Even more than good soil and seed, a successful gardener needs patience.
The proverb 'A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in' captures the first requirement and positive mental health-inducing quality of gardening: patience.
When I was a graduate student at business school, it seemed every professor at one point contrasted the short-term focus of most American public companies with the long-term orientation of Japanese businesses.
In America, our obsession with quarterly earnings and immediate rewards – fad diets, ready-to-eat meals, one-season-only clothes, disposable plates and unaffordable mortgages, for example – has produced companies and brains programmed for impatience.
Very few flowers, fruits or vegetables worth waiting for grow quickly.
What demands our patience and respect for the earth's limits and miraculous capacity more than collecting a seed, protecting it through the winter, planting that seed come springtime, tending to its needs, watching it grow, cherishing its fruit and then waiting for the cycle to repeat?
Retraining our brains to enjoy the slow and steady process of growth can be both rewarding and good for our mental health.
Practising patience during gardening can strengthen our ability to tolerate and even appreciate waiting in our day-to-day lives.
THE PRACTICE OF GARDENINGChildren often pose questions that give us the opportunity to understand ourselves, while figuring out solutions and new ways of thinking. March is full of optimistic raking and cleaning of flower stems I've left up throughout the winter for their beautiful architecture decorated with snow, often windblown into puffs and spears, in place of petals. Because growing a thriving garden and balancing the mind require that we adhere to the same principles: patience, beauty, science, a desire to learn from and give to each other, hard work, respect and faith.
My younger son asked me one night, "You know those periods of time when you're really doing something and your mind just goes quiet? Sometimes I have to crack through the last layers of ice and snow as I get my exercise jumping up on the rim of my shovel to loosen the soil in the kitchen garden in early April, and by the end of the month, I savour washing my muddy hands in warm water after spending the morning on my knees with my favorite trowel and garden fork. Yes, you could say that I'm happiest, at my best, and with my clearest, most productive thoughts when I am gardening, mowing, clearing wooded areas or otherwise tending to nature. I believe these seven components bundled together both yield a good garden and improve mental health.