Accessible gardening for all
Linda Ross is a landscape architect and horticulturalist with a special interest in therapy gardens for people with disability and the elderly. As the daughter of well-known horticulturalist and TV presenter, Graham Ross, gardening is in her blood.
“I don’t think I could have done anything else,” says Linda. “Both my mum and day were horticulturalists and I’ve grown up around the garden my whole life. My dad’s great uncle was even head gardener for King George V at Balmoral Castle,” she laughs.
Even for people who have never gardened before, there are many benefits. “Gardening can help alleviate stress, particularly during these times. It’s also a kind of meditation where you are just in the moment,” says Linda.
There are many emotional and physical benefits to developing your green thumb, including:
- Positive mental health
- Alleviating stress
- Moving your body
- Connecting with nature and the outdoors
- Healthy eating
For people with disability, gardens can have many sensory benefits. Both perfume and flowers connect to memory and can have a positive effect on moods and emotions.
When creating a garden that is accessible, it all comes back to the individual and what their needs and preferences are. “It’s really important to find out what kind of plants a person likes and connects with, so have a conversation and try out a few things,” says Linda.
Together with a little effort and a few simple tools and tips, anyone can try their hand at creating an accessible garden at home.
How to create an accessible garden
- Raise the garden – Raising garden beds off the ground reduces excessive bending and makes gardens more accessible for wheelchairs and walkers. You can also use a table with some pot plants if you don’t have a raised garden bed to begin with.
- Keep it personal – Have a conversation about the type of garden and its design to suit individual preferences. Some flowers or scents can connect to special memories, or be inspired by favourite vegetables and herbs.
- Use seeds – Planting with seeds instead of more mature plants is an inexpensive way to garden and an easy way to get started. Seedlings also grow fast, so you can see your efforts quickly come to life.
- Environment and weather – Does the location of the garden get lots of sun, shade wind or frost? Choose plants that will thrive based on the location of your garden and where you live.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals or pesticides – Using less pesticides in your garden will attract insect eating birds, lizards, lady beetles and bees to the garden.
- Recycle water – To save on water bills, collect rainwater or use greywater on your plants.
- Save space – If you don’t have the space for a garden bed, a potted balcony garden or indoor plants will do the trick. Small gardening tools that are easy to hold are more accessible to use and store.
Planting in spring
As the weather warms up, it’s the perfect time to start spending more time outdoors and in the garden. Spring is a great time for planting flowers such as petunias and snapdragons, or vegetables and herbs like tomatoes, spring onion, and basil.
We would love to see photos of an accessible garden you have created at home, or your spring garden inspiration. Email your favourite gardening shots to email@example.com
For more information about Linda, visit lindaross.com.au