The Dementia: Understand Together showcase garden featured in Dublin’s Phoenix Park at Bord Bia’s Bloom in 2019

Dementia and reminiscence 

Reminiscence has been found to have a positive effect on quality of life for people living with dementia. Typically people with dementia are better able to recall things from many years ago than recent memories, so reminiscence draws on this strength.

Memories are made of this – Dementia: Understand Together Garden at Bloom 2019

The Memories are made of this – Dementia: Understand Together garden created a space where people living with dementia could reminisce in a welcoming and supportive way.  The garden was a celebration of all things 1950s – where people in their 60s, 70s and 80s could remember, celebrate and share stories about an era when they were young.

People living with dementia were central to the design of this garden sharing their memories of the gardens of their youth; working gardens where growing your own vegetables was a natural and often necessary way of life; the manicured front lawns of suburban homes to the stone walls and hay bales remembered from country holidays.  Gardens were part of the rhythm of everyday life, a place to grow food for the family, indulge in a gardening hobby and the background to many family photos.

The metal sculpture at the centre of the garden represented the growing number of Irish people who are diagnosed with dementia and the challenges of living with the condition.  The interwoven flowers and bed around the sculpture showed the beauty and individuality of someone living with dementia and the varied experience of each person. Reminding us to “see the person” and not the condition, which helps to dissipate the stigma that still surrounds dementia.

Dementia: Understand Together’s Top Tips to Stimulate Reminiscence in Your Garden:

  1. Find the Scent of a Rose. There is nothing like the scent and elegance of an old tea rose to transport you back in time. Why not consider planting one in your garden later this autumn?
  2. Hit the right note. Why not incorporate features such as wind-chimes to gently transport you to a world of peace and tranquillity? Or perhaps put in a gramophone in your back shed and throw a few shapes with Elvis Presley on the deck?
  3. Be cool as a cucumber. Remember when you’d pop out to the back garden for a head of lettuce, a handful of onions or some rhubarb? Why not install an easy-to-manage vegetable patch? You can start with a small raised bed in your sunniest spot.
  4. Seek the object of the exercise. Do pink flamingos take you back to a bygone world? Why not resurrect your mischievous gnomes and place them around the garden? They are sure to give you a warm, fuzzy feeling and become a real talking point for visitors
  5. Have the Midas Touch. Remember the feeling of those daisies and how you plucked each petal as a kid – “she loves me, she loves me not”? Other flowers and plants that are sure to transport  you include lupins, delphiniums, primulas and, garden favourite, geranium