Community gardens and appropriately-designed public space can add bio-diversity, mitigate climate change and offer a haven for children and adults with special educational needs. Stressed individuals also respond well to the calming influence of nature.
Traditionally, community gardens have provided space for a community to come together, to grow food, hang out and socialise in a non threatening environment. Although community gardens are often low budget, if space allows, a waterfall garden and pebble stream brings wonder to the garden.“This part of the garden is a safe area to explore, play and rest. Surrounding it by sweeping drifts of ornamental grasses and a small grove of ornamental shrubs would give a sense of enclosure,” says design director Gayle Souter-Brown.
Rainwater harvesting and bio-diverse planting to attract wildlife brings a sustainable sensory garden within reach. To fully engage our senses we need to reconnect with nature.
A working garden of raised beds and containers, and an area with planters and outdoor furniture for group activities would complete the space.
Seasonal interest and variety throughout the year are important. “It is good to create multiple sensory-stimulation environments, with plants selected for fragrance, texture, and colour, in a sequence of colour from spring to summer, summer to autumn, autumn to winter, and back to spring."
Community gardens require
Comfort - seating so people can sit in comfort
Shelter - fences or solid walls provide growing space as well as a more pleasant environment for people
Water - the sound of water is soothing and the water attracts wildlife for a double benefit. Install a simple pond - even a sunken bucket will do - or a small pool with a solar powered fountain
Food - every community garden needs to include edible plants, including fruit trees
Safety - a protective wall or barrier planting will enclose the space and make it feel safe
Warmth - a BBQ or outdoor fireplace provides atmospheric warmth, as well as somewhere to cook food, as a focus for sustainable community get-togethers.
"Happiness is the harvest of a quiet eye. " Austin O'Malley
"The local food growing initiative is delighted with our new 2 acre garden. BBQ, seating, play areas, raised beds, poly tunnel; espaliered fruit trees along the fenceline have made the donated space a sanctuary for one and all. Thank you" Joyce, FLFI
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