This is a much-loved home for the aged in our local community catering not only for the aged but for dementia patients also. The side garden was established many years ago to cater for the home but in particular give dementia patients a safe space to move through.
Over the years the garden had mostly died. With a limited budget the home asked me to revamp the planting and try and lift the appeal of the garden. The brief was to provide plant textures, scents, shapes and variety to appeal to the resident’s senses. They also particularly wanted small hidden gnomes and statues that may trigger either a sense of fun or a memory of the past. The new garden also had to be accessible to those either in a wheelchair or on a walking frame.
The high retaining walls were an issue to those in a chair so the immediate planting behind these walls were a mixture of cascading plants that could come down to the resident’s level. These include Erigeron karvinskianus, convolvulus sabatius, Dichondra 'Silverfalls', Myoporum parvifolium and Campanula poscharskyana. Even strawberries, lavender and chives are all placed within reach for picking, smelling and loving.
The plantings behind become much less accessible to touch so they needed to appeal through colour, scent and varying leaf shape. Residents can reach out and touch the leathery leaf of an Elephant-Ear plant or even touch the perforated edge of an Escalonia ‘Pink Pixie’ or the fluffy texture of Lambs-Ear Plant…and then peeping out is the shiny eyes of a colourful gnome or frog that can bring the smile to any face.
The final layer is the addition of trees. The trees were very necessary to cool this garden that heats to uncomfortable temperatures during summer. I chose to add both Acer platanoides "Emerald Queen' and Acer x freemanii "Autumn Blaze” throughout the beds as these trees can cast the most beautiful dappled light that can play beautifully across the concrete path or play delicately upon the eye – even if your sight has dulled.