Do you know that there is a garden in Singapore called the Healing Garden? If you do not, well, you will be forgiven, for the garden is tucked away in a little corner within the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Incidentally, if you also do not know, the Singapore Botanic Gardens was this year (2015) designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site. And I must say, the honour is truly well deserved. The Botanic Gardens is an awesome place to spend your free time, with its lush greenery and rolling fields, it is nothing like the rest of Singapore.
As for the Healing Garden itself, it has been around since 2011, when the authorities (supposedly the National Parks Board) decided it would be a great idea to showcase plants and trees which we – Southeast Asians - have derived medicinal benefits from.
Now, the 2.5 hectares, $30 million garden is home to some 500 species of plants and trees which have been and are used for medicinal purposes.
“This garden is designed as a tranquil retreat with medical plants traditionally used in Southeast Asia as the main focus,” the Botanic Gardens’ website says.
The garden itself is designed in the shape of a seated human, with the plants laid out correspondingly to the parts of the human body where its medicinal properties are beneficial.
Back in 2007 when the concept was fist being considered, Director of the Botanic Gardens, Dr Chin See Chung, gave an example of what the idea was all about.
He said, for example, if visitors 'walk where the head is, they will see the willow, whose bark produces aspirin'.
And so you will see a large variety of shrubs, plants and trees which we humans, at least we here in Southeast Asia, look to cure what ails us.
For example, there is the “Iris domestica”, or commonly called “Leopard Lily” for obvious reasons – the spots on the petals of its flowers. The plant is used to treat arrow poisoning, malaria, gonorrhoea, asthma and chest and liver complaints.
Also, the different parts of a single plant can be used to treat different symptoms.
The leaves of the “Bixa Orellana”, for example, are used to treat headaches and body pains; while its root decoctions can help relieve asthma. Additionally, its seed pulp is used to treat kidney infections, while the roots itself can be beneficial in treating venereal diseases.
All in all, it is quite a neat concept for a garden, and after having visited it, I have to say that it is indeed not just a place to spend some quiet time amidst the tranquillity of the lush greenery, it is also educational to learn what each shrub and tree is used for.
If you have some time, do make the trip there. It’s just about 15 to 20 minutes walk after getting off the Botanic Gardens MRT station on the Circle Line.