The Derwent Green Gym needed a new project for 2010/2011 and decided to apply for a grant from Trafford Hall’s DIY Community Action fund to develop a Sensory Garden in half of one our existing plots within the Little Chester Allotments in Derby. The proposal was to develop this area into a series of sensory experiences using imaginative design, hard landscaping, and planting. Taste, touch, scent, sound and visual senses will be stimulated for a wide range and age of visitors from the community, particularly but not just, those with a sensory disability.
Our plan was to use reclaimed/recycled materials wherever possible and practical. Reclamation companies, scrap metal merchants and recycling depots provided some sources. The entrance arch (with scented climbing shrubs) and wooden retaining walls are constructed from reclaimed materials. Raised beds or planters have been made by creatively using or adapting scrap containers, sinks, chimney pots, old trolleys or tanks. Old lorry/tractor tyres form the 2 central planters and contain a range of sensory plants.
The project has been developed and designed by our own client group, The Early Intervention Group (part of the Young People’s Specialist Services in Mental Health) and Derwent Green Gym volunteers. Other volunteers including the Princes Trust, Derby College and Green Health have all undertaken aspects of the work including landscaping and final planting.
There are themed raised beds and plantings, and seated areas of different textures. The pathways use coloured stone chippings, a chamomile lawn, and other materials in zoned areas offering visual stimulus, along with sound, texture and scent whilst passing through. All surfaces will be appropriate for wheelchair access.
There are 2 seating areas. One using a recycled rainbow -coloured plastic bench with taste and touch raised beds nearby. The other is a reclaimed wooden bench in front of a rockery with reclaimed stone and beside a dry stone wall with scent and sound areas adjacent.
Signage will be provided including braille.
This was planned as a great challenge and would provide a good sense of achievement for everyone who took part. It would provide them with an experience which would widen their concept of gardening and how it can meet and give pleasure to people of all abilities particularly sensory disabilities. Working at the Green Gym helps improve confidence, social skills, an ability to work as a team and physical fitness and mental and emotional well-being.
It would also provide an additional valuable aspect to Derwent Green Gym giving breadth to our project which we hope would give members and visitors from the community, particularly those with a sensory disability, an exciting new experience.