A small area of land was claimed by the Inclusion Department in 2014 with the aim of building a Sensory Garden. The garden would be created by the students (with some additional construction provided by staff) to help fulfil the skill section of their Duke of Edinburgh Award.
We started with a patch of land overgrown with tenacious weeds, full of bricks and years of rubbish. A large area of concrete provided a challenge and industrial fencing didn't match the aesthetic balance we aimed to create. We set to work. The students have applied themselves with enthusiasm and vigour, enjoying the sense of accomplishment and the positive effects of physical effort. They recently moved a ton bag of soil in one lesson!
A deck was built over the concrete, walls were painted, planting beds created and a beautiful sign has been handcrafted by the students. The students have researched sensory gardens extensively and have been inspired to create their own ideas - we would love to have some form of water feature in the future, a particular favourite.
The garden has slowly grown over the years and was completed this Spring. As with all gardens, however, it will be an ongoing project. Some aspects remain unfinished to keep the project ongoing (we still have industrial fencing!) and, of course, planting will always be an annual activity. It is a lovely project to be involved in, the students enjoyment is infectious and time spent in the garden passes rapidly. We are going to plant more flowers, herbs and vegetables, the products of which will also provide resources for other lessons - catering, science, maths. We look forward to using it as an outdoor teaching space, a retreat for calm and a space for self expression (the deck provides a perfect stage!)
We held a very successful and well attended Opening Ceremony In June. The Garden is dedicated to a former student, Thomas Briggs who died in December 2015.