Cultivate - the Horticultural Therapy Society of NSW

5 Feb 2018

Green Urbanscape Asia 2017 & International Greenery Conference, Singapore

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In November 2017 the biennial Green Urbanscape Asia and International Greenery Conference was held in Singapore. This joint expo and conference is the largest showcase in South East Asia displaying new projects and research in the landscape and horticultural industry with an emphasis on wellbeing in urban living. Review by Cultivate NSW member Michael Casey.

I have attended this event twice now and am always impressed with the works performed throughout South East Asia and especially how they are tackling the increasing number of urban occupants, especially through the use of Horticultural Therapy. The way Singapore and other Asian nations tackle this density issue and that of the growing level of mental health issues in and around these urban settlements is quite impressive. 

With my current roles with the Australian Institute of Horticulture and that of the new Therapeutic Horticulture Australia, it has allowed me to meet with several other industry organisiations in and around South East Asia to discuss the importance of this sector of our industry. Cultivate President Toni Salter and I caught up with Shamril Jamil from National Parks to discuss their current involvement in Horticultural Therapy and what it means to them to see their work succeed.

Shamril noted that over the last two years they have worked hard in setting up a comprehensive set of training programs. He stated that “since 2016 we have organised 6 workshops and a seminar on Therapeutic Horticulture. Some of the speakers included Tara Graham Cochrane, Dean Gaston and Paul de la Motte”.  Shamril also explained that in 2018 they have planned a seminar called ‘Connecting People with Nature’, they will also be having their second intake for the new Certificate in Therapeutic Horticulture and furthermore, two workshops to coincide with invited speakers and trainers.

Shamril also communicated that the growing rate of dementia cases throughout Singapore was alarming and was requiring them to revisit their training curriculum to include up to date information for their students.  With the amount of programs and training currently underway in Singapore it wasn’t surprising to Toni and I that Shamril was eager to hear about what we are doing in Australia regarding Horticulture Therapy. After informing him about the creation of our new Therapeutic Horticulture Australia we formally invited Shamril and his team to attend our upcoming National Conference to be held at SCU University in Coolongatta this coming August.

Another event Greg Thomas from Greenedge Design and I were invited to was the opening of the new Children’s Garden (Jacob Ballas) at the Botanical Gardens where we were given a personal tour by the Deputy Director of Horticulture, Dr. Wilson Wong.  Dr. Wong personally oversaw the design and implementation of the new children garden. The Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is the first garden in Asia dedicated to children. As stated on the National Parks website ‘the garden is a complete nature learning environment, where children can delve deeper into the ecology of plants and environment through discovery and experiential learning’. From my perspective, the most impressive aspect of this garden was the fact that adults can only enter the garden if accompanied by a child/children making this garden purely dedicated to children’s learning and development.
We can learn a lot from the works underway throughout South East Asia and these conferences and expos are important in educating Australia about what’s happening throughout these regions. As much as we are interested in their Horticultural developments, we also need to recognise and celebrate our many local talented professionals in the fields of Therapeutic Horticulture.

A big thank you to Shamril Jamil and Dr. Wilson Wong for their time in sharing their developments and informing me and our industry colleagues.

Images show Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden - photo credit Michael Casey

Michael Casey is a Landscape Designer/ Horticulturist and director of MJC Horticulture with interests in designing school gardens for senior students. He runs a horticultural program for 16 – 18-year-old students with varying degrees of learning and social challenges.  Michael is also on the steering committee for Therapeutic Horticulture Australia and is Victorian Convenor and National Councilor with the Australian Institute of Horticulture

Cultivate - the Horticultural Therapy Society of NSW
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