Sensory garden stimulates the senses and the soul

A two-year project to create a sensory garden on campus is really beginning to blossom.

The sensory garden will be officially opened as part of National Inclusion Week

Sensory garden to be officially opened. September 2018

Designed on the principle of Access For All, the colourful creation outside Charles Morris Hall features wheelchair access, as well as guides for both the visually impaired and blind visitors.

Plants were selected to assist those registered on the autism spectrum, with year-round interest for people who suffer from a mental health condition to enjoy the peace and tranquillity.

The University’s Director of Human Resources, Francesca Fowler, will officially open the garden at 11am on Monday 24 September, as part of National Inclusion Week celebrations at Leeds.

She said: “The garden is an excellent example of how a space can be made accessible and enjoyable for all, and I hope people take the opportunity to visit.”

Praise has already been forthcoming from students, staff and conference visitors alike, with the garden appearing as a case study on the RHS Wild About Gardens and Green Tourism websites.

Alem Tamirat is was a mature blind student from Ethiopia, who was resident at Charles Morris Hall during 2017/18.

She said: “The most impressive aspect of my visit was the provision of Braille on the wooden information plaque. It is also very accessible for disabled students and visitors. I found it very peaceful.”

Sensory garden to be officially opened. September 2018Communication Matters, a charity for the verbally impaired, including those affected by either a stroke or cerebral palsy, has also been impressed by the project.

Ruth McMorran and Toby Hewson are Co-Chairs of the organisation, which holds its annual conference at the University every September. They said: "We were delighted to see the outdoor space at Charles Morris Court had been redesigned as a beautiful new sensory garden. 

“Many of our members and conference delegates are wheelchair users and they really appreciate this accessible garden, which offers them a few moments of serenity and a space to clear their minds and improve their mood during a busy programme. 

“The families from our sister organisation, 1Voice, enjoy the aromas and colours of plants and flowers, which provide a stimulating interactive sensory experience and an opportunity to explore the environment and learn about their senses and nature."

Bee-friendly plants also feature in the design. These were monitored by a PhD student during the summer, who has identified six species of bee and bumblebee in the garden.

The project received specific mention during the Yorkshire in Bloom visit to campus last year. It was also singled out for further praise at the 2018 Awards ceremony in York on Tuesday 11 September, when the University campus as a whole received a Silver Gilt.

The Awards report stated: “The newly installed Charles Morris Sensory Garden is well planned and executed to provide plants for pollinators, tactile plants and others that smell to ensure inclusivity for the many groups who are able to access the area.”

See For Staff for full details of the National Inclusion Week programme at Leeds. 

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