Volunteers will receive 6 months of training to help maintain plants at Gardens by the Bay

Volunteers will receive 6 months of training to help maintain plants at Gardens by the Bay

SINGAPORE – Weeds don’t just pull themselves up at Gardens by the Bay, they’re removed by shovels and volunteers who use pesticides, helping to maintain the gorgeous plants and landscaping.

About 90 volunteers showed up to serve in the gardens on Nov. 19 as part of the premiere of a new initiative for citizen gardeners, deployed as a garden care group for the first time.

Program volunteers are trained to care for outdoor plants, including those in the tourist attraction’s Heritage Gardens – a 3.4-hectare area that includes the Indian, Chinese, Malaysian and Colonial Gardens.

They will undergo a six-month training course led by gardeners at the park, who will teach volunteers at least once a month how to sow seeds, remove weeds and check soil quality.

Volunteers also learn how to detect pests on medicinal plants such as gambir and henna and edibles such as nutmeg.

This first batch of citizen gardeners was joined by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and National Development Indrani Raja in planting a red Saraca sapling in the Indian Garden.

Felix Loh, CEO of Gardens by the Bay, said the free program will help maintain the gardens and also give opportunities for volunteers to learn gardening skills.

The gardens have long relied on volunteers for garden maintenance since they opened in 2012, but this is the first organized training program to teach them plant management skills and roster them.

The first batch of the volunteer program, which began in October, attracted 250 people. The next recruitment will be in March 2024.

Longtime volunteer Mr Tai Yong Hong, 65, has been helping with landscaping the gardens at least twice a month since 2012. Since he is familiar with the buildings, he has been appointed to be a mentor to the new volunteers.

While volunteer work began as a way to deepen his knowledge and passion for gardening, it led to a post-retirement career as a part-time landscape gardener using the skills he acquired in the gardens.

Mr. Tay’s personal plant collection in his apartment has also grown from single pots to “countless pots.”

“Our work is important to keep the plants here healthy,” Mr Tai said. “It can be difficult to remove some of the weeds, but if we don’t they will take over the whole area after a few weeks.”

Another local gardener, Ms. Liu Yue Bon, 61, said she regularly volunteers in various gardening initiatives because she enjoys going out in the sun and taking care of plants – especially those not usually found in homes.

“It reminds me of my childhood because I grew up in a kampong and loved gardening then,” the former teacher said.

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