Celebrity

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Flick Seton

Flick Seton (seated front right) chairing the committee meeting

Flick Seton is the Chairman of Gardening for Disabled Trust

2018 has been a significant anniversary for our small charity: we have survived 50 years in the tough world of fundraising!

In 1968 our founder Mrs Kinsey identified the benefit that gardening brings to body and soul, and set about raising money to help people with disabilities enjoy the feel of ‘soil under the fingernails’.  In this she was a true pioneer.

Half a century later, the health benefits of gardening are well-researched and documented: it’s even been estimated that every £1 spent on horticultural therapy brings £5 of health benefit.

For our clients, a little financial injection from the Trust can be life-changing.  We are endlessly humbled by our clients’ creativity and imagination in devising schemes to adapt their gardens, making them accessible and functional  in spite of their disabilities;  and it is a real privilege to be a small part of that journey.  Please do explore their stories on this website by clicking here.

http://www.gardeningfordisabledtrust.org.uk/services/case-studies/

Our small committee of 10 volunteers are tireless in their commitment to get more people back into their gardens and enjoy that exceptional pleasure that is gardening.  If you feel inspired to give us a hand – with a fundraising lunch, or a coffee morning, or signing up to become a Friend perhaps, then we would be so very grateful. Please click here for more information

http://www.gardeningfordisabledtrust.org.uk/get-involved/donate/

We look forward to hearing from you!

In the meantime, all of us at Gardening for Disabled send you every good wish for a happy, peaceful  and green-fingered 2019.

Celebrity

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Andrew Fisher Tomlin

Gardening with Blind Veterans UK

Andrew Fisher Tomlin offers some design advice for the elderly with vision impairment and who want to carry on gardening.

Imagine a group of visually impaired people. Now imagine that within this group some will only visit the garden for just a few weeks in their lives whilst others may be regular visitors. Many are in their 70s and 80s and need assistance to get around a space whilst some are in their 20s and 30s and extremely fit and active. Some love gardening, others just want to be outdoors. There’s also sighted people and children involved. That’s the community that we designed a 4 acre garden for Blind Veterans UK in North Wales to celebrate their centenary in 2014. The garden has to fulfil the needs of both members, some of whom have very recently seen action in the armed forces, staff and a local community. The overused phrase of “sensory garden” doesn’t begin to cover all their needs and wants which are as wide-ranging as gardening, bird watching, cooking and gym training.

We’ve worked with Blind Veterans UK for almost 5 years now and developed an understanding of the requirements for the members of the charity who, although often in their 80s, remain very active. We’ve now created 3 gardens for their community training centres and as a result members often ask us what they can do in their own gardens. Here are some useful tips.

That first garden in Llandudno is structured along a simple flowing path with seats, glades, workshops and places to exercise along its route. The exploratory element is important, allowing someone to wander, to get a sense of place and not to be faced with dead ends, crossing lines and decisions about direction that might confuse them. This can be difficult in a small backyard but a simple layout approach can often be the best. And the path flows back to the start so that you can do a whole circuit safely on your own.
Our gardens are often deliberately intended to be for passive and active therapy (e.g. through gardening activities such as vegetable growing) and by taking this approach the garden might also be low maintenance. There are always plenty of places to sit and enjoy the garden, watch the wildlife (which we encourage through water, bird and wildlife houses). If you are interested in active therapy there are places like Thrive that can help with information and support. At Llandudno a regular “Gardens Week” not only has lots of gardening activities but allows both members and volunteers to try their hand at something new like taking cuttings or growing vegetables.

The simplicity of hard materials is important. For example the path surface is deliberately a single material choice so as not to confuse and encourage freedom to explore. The paths are non-slip meeting British Standards for slippage but also well-maintained so that they don’t become dangerous. The texture of other materials are often tactile with water and sculpture playing an important part here. Simple seating is comfortable, practical and, just because our needs have changed it remains stylish.
Plants provide a gentle sensory experience through texture, movement, fragrance and colour to stimulate the senses. Familiar native plants might be important in stimulating feelings of well being, planting comes right up to the path to give the opportunity to touch, smell and feel the planting.
Colour has been vital as many of those with vision impairment can still determine some colour. We also find that contrast is important and so yellows against blues and reds and pinks against greens are often seen. Indeed we also plant daffodils in large drifts alongside paths that help direct the visitor along those paths.

For the members of Blind Veterans UK the garden is a place to escape outside and enjoy the sun, get some Vitamin D and use as a place not just for gardening but also for music, play and eating. The gardens we have created are multi function and so we’ve encouraged people who’ve never gardened to get outside and be active whether it’s to hang out the washing, dig a kitchen garden or just enjoy the flowers. It can’t get better than that can it?!

Celebrity

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Nicki Conlon

Cordyline Success and failure.

Before I moved I had never had any Cordyline in the garden.

In the front garden were two lovely specimens standing sentry next to the front.

Cordylines in the front garden

My new friends where growing through gravel. Good idea as these characters like it moist but well drained. They don’t need much care, except for pulling off the tatty lower leaves. Result, I love a tough plant.

There were a lot of weeds growing through the gravel. I kept pulling and pulling them out and layered bark mulch over the gravel to keep the weeds away.

One day when I got home from work, I noticed something sticking out the ground between the Cordylines. A Cordyline baby!

I suspect the straight one at the back was the original, and the other was an off shoot. Taking away the weeds must have made them happy.

I love free plants, so I decied to gently remove the new addition.

I moved all the bark and gravel away. Annoying, but wait, what’s this? another baby!

Now this is where I should have only taken the larger off shoot to pot up. In the name of experimentation and laziness, I couldn’t be bothered to shift the bark and gravel again, I took both to pot up.

There’s life right yet.

As the above picture, the bigger one thrived and the little one didn’t make it. I likely hurt him when getting him out. Maybe I should have left him with mum to grow stronger before ripping him away.

You live and learn, at least I have one new free plant.

Nicki has gardened for many years in Sussex. You can find Nicki at https://twitter.com/makinggardens and https://instagram.com/makinggardens

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This week’s Guest Blogger is John Harrison

John Harrison with a home grown cauliflower


John Harrison has been gardening for over 40 years now. As well as writing for magazines and newspapers he’s the author of 8 books including the best selling Vegetable Growing Month by Month. He can be found online at www.allotment-garden.org

The Right Way to Garden

If you ask three gardeners a growing question you’re likely to get four answers at least. Which one is right? Well they all could be. The thing is there’s no perfect way to garden. 


Chemical vs Organic
The big argument in gardening used to be between scientific growing and the muck and magic school, chemical versus organic if you will. Both systems, correctly applied, can produce great plants and crops. Neither system is perfect. 
Chemical growing where the soil is treated just as an inert medium to hold fertilisers is arguably unsustainable. It can be damaging to soil ecosystems and the general environment. Organic systems can work well but if the soil becomes depleted or a pest appears in large numbers, plant growth will be checked and crop yields reduced.

To Dig or Not to Dig?
The modern gardening discussion that has superseded the organic debate is whether to dig over the ground or not. Traditional gardening emphasised the importance of double digging or at least annual single digging to produce the optimum conditions for plants to grow in.
No-dig growers put their effort into making compost and applying it in thick layers on the soil’s surface instead of tilling the soil. Once again, both systems can grow great plants.

Traditional Digging
No Dig Growing

The real question: ‘What is the right way to grow for me?’ I could go on with examples of diametrically opposed methods of gardening but I think I’ve made the point. The question gardeners need to ask isn’t ‘What is the right way to grow?’ but ‘What is the right way to grow for me?’
Never mind slavishly following systems and methods that others have laid down.  We’re all different in the amounts of time and energy we have. Our soils vary and our climate varies. London’s climate has more in common with the Mediterranean than Scotland. 
Yes, lets grow organically, it’s better for the planet, but accept that sometimes a judicious application of a chemical fertiliser can rescue a failing plant. No dig growing often works well but with some soils, like a heavy clay, traditional double digging is – in my opinion – a better way to get the soil in good heart and keep it there.
Pick and choose from all the ideas out there in books and on the web, try things out but don’t be afraid to change your ways if they fail. Eventually you’ll find the right way for you to garden.