Published on 18th December 2023 on

What started as a mini project by gardening enthusiast, Mr Ganesh Kumar at Woodlands Town Park East during the pandemic has blossomed into a sprawling and well-loved garden today.

Mr Ganesh Kumar, the chairman of Woodlands Botanical Garden, working at the garden with some students from Republic Polytechnic.

When full-time chemistry tutor Mr Ganesh Kumar lost his mother in 2020, he turned to gardening to cope with his grief. He began sowing a few plant seedlings on an empty grass patch along the Northern slope of Woodlands Town Park East.

“This area was an empty grass patch with only wild lalangs growing, and I wanted to distract myself from sorrow and grief,” the self-professed gardening enthusiast told Kaya.

Tending to the plants became a routine that was repeated every morning. As colourful flowers started blooming, he not only caught the attention of NPark officials, but also nearby residents who were intrigued by the produce of his green fingers. Many of them wanted to join in the gardening adventure.

With their support, Ganesh’s little gardening project turned into a community garden. Today, it spans over 4000 square metres, covering a hill about nine storeys high.

Woodlands Botanical Garden, as it is called, has won three awards to date and is home to 350 different plant species, 250 ornamental plants and 60 butterfly species.

Some of the unique flowers grown at Woodlands Botanical Gardens

“I like to bring in flowers that we don’t usually see anywhere else, which the elderly residents get very excited about,” said Ganesh, who regularly buys flower cuttings from commercial nurseries.

‘We can’t wait for the sun to rise’

When the garden first started, some older residents approached Ganesh and shared that they can’t wait for the sun to rise, so they can wake up to look at the flowers. Ganesh said that their encouragement pushed him to continue gardening, despite the challenges it took to tend to the plants alone at the beginning.

Moreover, he was also driven by the desire to build a communal space where people can reconnect with nature and motivate the elderly residents living nearby to keep active.

” Once this garden came about, more people started to climb the steps and socialise with each other. Friendships are forged and this gives them reasons to leave the house, rather than sit in front of the TV all the time.”


“There was an elderly man who came to the ground floor every day. I would encourage him to climb and explore other types of flowers at the higher levels. But he would always refuse, claiming he is unable to climb.

Then one day, I saw him at the top and I congratulated him. He was shocked and said that he didn’t even realise that he had reached the top of the garden. I think that’s the beauty of nature,” he added.

Flourishing with community support

Woodlands Botanical Garden’s 2024 Calendar launched in collaboration with the Botanical Arts Society

Within three years, Woodlands Botanical Garden has blossomed with support from various communities. Individuals who learnt of the project also began to chip in by volunteering their time and expertise.

A retired plumber offered to build a water irrigation system, so Ganesh and his volunteers did not have to continue to carry water up the hill. Another well-wisher in the web development business created a website for the garden, and its Instagram page is currently managed by a magazine editor. Talk about teamwork.

The garden also offers a myriad of community engagement programmes that include free art lessons and garden tours. In collaboration with the Botanical Arts Society, they are also holding a year-end exhibition, music concert and a fundraiser through the sale of desktop calendars.

Volunteers add to the garden’s biodiversity and inclusivity
Besides being home to biodiversity, the garden has also turned into a space where volunteers can work together and learn as equals.

The garden is part of several different programmes that bring in volunteers of all walks of life, including Singapore Prison Service’s Desistor Network, which enables former convicts who are undergoing rehabilitation to work at the garden.

” We have had sessions where police officers in training and ex-convicts work next to each other. That’s very beautiful to me.”


Student volunteers from Republic Polytechnic working away at Woodlands Botanical Garden as part of an interest group in relation to their diploma course.

Moreover, since April this year, the garden has been a part of a student-initiated collaboration with Republic Polytechnic. Every Saturday morning, a group of students from the Diploma of Environmental Marine Science would work in the garden.

“One thing we’ve learned here is how to maintain a green space. Green spaces are not necessarily just for the environment, but for the community as well,” said Qistina.

Her coursemate Jamie, added: “When little kids come around the garden and start pointing at the flowers and butterflies, it makes me smile.”

On the partnership with Republic Polytechnic, Ganesh said that he has picked up a lot of new knowledge from the students which has added to the ecosystem and diversity of the garden.

“I’m first and foremost a plant person. I don’t know much about butterflies, bees and birds. But I’ve chosen certain plants based on what they told me. I’ve learnt a lot from them, and I think that’s why the garden is successful today.”