Sensory Garden Design in Surrey for Friends Of The Elderly
A garden designer colleague was unable to take on this project due to an illness in the family, she recommended me to Friends of The Elderly , knowing that I would be a safe pair of hands. The large but constrained site was the Bernard Sunley Nursing Home run by Friends of The Elderly in Woking, Surrey. The home had been constructed in 2000 and some of the original planting was failing, whilst other areas were simply unattractive or unfit for purpose.
I was called in to undertake a review of the entire landscape, and given a brief to completely redesign the front entrance area and a central courtyard, whilst renewing where necessary all existing planting around the site. The existing courtyard was starting to look tired, and the existing gravel surface was not ideal for users with impaired mobility, so I was tasked with redesigning it to make a garden for purpose and provide far greater sensory stimulation for residents suffering from dementia through both planting and hard landscaping.
A Sensory Garden Design for the Central Courtyard
With a constrained budget it made sense, as far as possible, to re-use materials on site, so the existing gravel surfacing was re-used as a top-dressing for new planting beds, saving on costs and providing an attractive mulch. A sensory garden with mediterranean theme was designed for the large raised oak sleeper beds, designed to be low-maintenance and accessible to wheelchair users. New beds to the perimeter of the courtyard continued the sensory interest with plants selected for scent and colour, using lavender and star jasmine to flood the courtyard with scent.
A Smart New Entrance Area and Revamped Perimeter Planting
The front entrance area was redesigned to smarten the public face of the building and soften the rather harsh brickwork of the building’s front elevation, using a green theme of native box and yew topiary and a mass planting of grasses and bulbs to give year-round structure and seasonal interest with a flash of colour in the spring followed by long-lasting seedheads from both Alliums and Miscanthus grasses. Construction was completed in only 5 weeks by the professional team at LDC Landscapes in summer 2015 and the planting is already starting to mature well with the photos above being taken only 2 months after planting.
I really enjoyed this project and it has been very satisfying to see how well-received it has been by residents, staff and visitors, who have all commented on the transformation to the site. It’s also a pleasure to see a formerly little-used area enjoyed by people who have limited opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in a safe environment.