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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.Very few flowers, fruits or vegetables worth waiting for grow quickly.
I know this challenge is familiar to many women, and it certainly was not the first time I had felt this way.
Furthermore, I have wrestled with feelings of anxiety my whole life, and moments like this one have been with me since I was young. While I may not yet hold the gift of perpetual tranquillity, I do know how to garden.
Although it’s not entirely evident from my travel photos, there is greenery – bushes, trees, vines, and flowers absolutely everywhere.
Planned in 2006, Gardens By The Bay is the creative work of two British firms, Grant Associates and Gustafson Porter.
At that moment I wondered, if I thought of each day that lay ahead as a metaphorical row to hoe – and plant, water, weed, harvest and then allow to rest – would life feel easier? Some seasons give me the most delicious tomatoes and delphiniums that stand up straight, even in Chicago.
Other days I wake to a late freeze, or spend hours picking off slugs.Impatience, however, is not an asset in building enduring value.Impatience often breeds waste, causes us to make mistakes and makes us feel quite the opposite of satisfied, but rather anxious, or even frantic.But that morning, when the idiom "It's a long row to hoe" started repeating in my mind with the persistence of a pop song, I smiled, exhaled and experienced an epiphany of sorts. Never before had I really thought about that phrase. Yes, I have learned that hoeing some rows is harder than others, when rocks and weeds or puddles are in the way, but I am always certain I can get the job done.I said out loud, "Wow, the noun is 'row', not 'road'! And the labour I expend while gardening even makes me feel rejuvenated – both mentally and physically.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.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.Most of Gardens By The Bay’s outdoor areas are free of admission and open from 5am until 2am everyday of the week.Fortunately for your wallet it’s a cheap visit but it won’t do you any good if you cheat yourself on time.