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The Dementia: Understand Together showcase garden will feature in Dublin’s Phoenix Park at Bord Bia’s Bloom from May 31 to June 4.

Dementia and gardening

There are several studies that indicate that gardens may be particularly good for people living with dementia. When outdoor spaces are welcoming and accessible, people with dementia and their carers have positive interactions, facilitating people to maintain their independence and engage in meaningful occupation as well as enhancing their health and wellbeing.

Moments in time – ‘The Dementia: Understand Together Garden’ at Bloom 2018

The campaign’s dementia-friendly showcase garden will feature in Dublin’s Phoenix Park at Bord Bia’s Bloom from May 31 to June 4.

It has been designed by the Dementia-friendly Garden Team, which is a collaboration between Newtown Saunders Ltd., TrinityHaus (Trinity College Dublin) and Sonasapc. Having been awarded a Silver Medal for their Bloom show garden in 2017, the team has returned this year with a new dementia garden centred on understanding, togetherness and connection.

This garden is a gentle space that facilitates understanding, togetherness and connection with nature, drawing on a strong evidence-base of dementia-friendly design and the lived experience of dementia.  It comprises a short multi-sensory walk leading to a central seating area, sheltered by a grove of trees, grounding the person in the ‘here and now’. 

A gallery installation features photographs that depict family, social roles and community as a reminder of the richness of family and community life in Ireland. Visual cues and prompts provide guidance and support, while physical objects act as focal points for communication. 

The garden reflects the Understand Together Campaign’s message of creating an Ireland that embraces people with dementia as active members of their communities. Everyone can make a difference by taking small steps to create understanding and inclusive communities where people with dementia are respected, supported and connected.

Dementia: Understand Together’s Top Tips for a Dementia-friendly Garden:

We hope our top tips for a dementia-friendly garden will inspire people to take on some ideas for their own garden spaces. Continuing gardening and spending time outdoors are some ways that people can continue to live well with dementia.

For those with access to a garden or an outside space, we would encourage them to incorporate some of our tips to help create a dementia-friendly space. Of course, we understand that not everyone has access to a garden or outdoor space. There are ways to bring the outside in, by incorporating indoor planting or making sure that windows in the home are clear of objects so there is a view to the outside.

  1. Garden Layout – try to ensure that your garden is easy to access, has a straightforward layout and is easy to get around, and can be seen from inside your home. Paths and patios should be level, non-slip and a single colour. Provide handrails for ease of mobility, and include accessible features such as raised planters.
  2. Planting – choose plants that stir the senses with vibrant colours and beautiful scents. Think about using plants that are interesting to touch, as well as those that are well-known and stimulate fond memories. We recommend Hydrangea, Pinks/carnations, English lavender, Japanese maple and Ox eye daisy.
  3. Familiar features – make the garden personal and include items in the garden that link with the person’s past, e.g. a vegetable patch, familiar plants, a bird table and a milk churn.
  4. Opportunity to relax – provide shelter and seating in the garden to sit back, take it all in and enjoy time out with family and friends. It might be helpful if seating is located where you can see back to your house and to family and friends inside.
  5. Easy to potter – have tools and garden equipment that are nearby, clearly visible, and easy to use. This will support gardening activities which can be hugely therapeutic and afford excellent opportunities to reminisce.

Download: Detailed garden design information and full planting list

Download: Moments in Time garden flyer