AN award-winning gardening team will design and create a sensory area at the Tearmann’s Community Garden in Baltinglass.
Local horticulturalist and designer Clive Jones has joined forces with Tom Grey, a research fellow with Trinity College, Dublin who’s studying dementia, to create a special garden that’s aimed at stimulating the senses of people with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other similar conditions. Clive and Tom are the award-winning duo who scooped gold and silver medals for the gardens they have created for the Bloom Flower Festival.
“We’re very privileged to get them to do our own garden,” Patricia Norton, secretary of the committee that runs Tearmann’s garden, told ***The Nationalist***.
Founders of the garden, Fr Tommy Dillon and Sr Mary Carmody, who have since moved on to pastures new, returned to Baltinglass recently for a turning of the sod and a blessing ceremony for the new venture. Service users Liz Deering and Pat Kearney, along with Sr Mary, officially turned the first sod on the site, while Fr Tommy and Fr Ger Ahern, PP, formally blessed the ground.
Fr Tommy and Sr Mary set up the garden some 14 years ago and since then it’s grown to accommodate 20 raised and flat beds, where a veritable cornucopia of vegetables and herbs are grown. As it’s a community garden and there’s a great emphasis on it being an inter-generational venture. From tiny pre-school children to primary and post primary students, and from service users of the nearby Lalor Centre to members of the local active retirement group, through to members of the local men’s shed, the garden is accessible to people of all ages. Children and teenagers are encouraged to plant seeds and to tend the garden throughout the year, watching their vegetables grow and develop, while every autumn, there’s a harvest thanksgiving lunch, where expert cooks are tasked with creating delicious dishes from the spoils of the garden. Throughout the year, too, there are talks on relevant topics such as pollination, foraging, seed gathering, composting and climate change.
The idea of extending the garden to include a sensory element came about when it was realised that the mulched ground was becoming too difficult for wheelchair users to manoeuvre. It was decided to install hard paths and from there, the idea grew into creating the sensory garden.
Patricia and an organising committee put together an application for LEADER funding and, much to their delight, received 75% of the required finance. However, they still have to raise the shortfall of €15,000, so they’re actively looking for patrons and sponsorship.
Patricia suggested that people might like to donate money towards seating or a water or plant feature, or else just donate a few bob to the cause.
“The more money we can raise, the more money we can spend making it more beautiful,” she pointed out.
Clive and the team from his company, Newtown Saunders Ltd, are due to start work this week and it’s hoped that the garden will be ready by next spring.