His design will look at the potential of gardens to offer a lifeline to those with early onset dementia, by providing them with coping strategies, a sense of place and therapeutic benefits.
The Unexpected Garden
Sometimes when gardens are created for people living with dementia the designer can focus on the condition, reverting to a perception of disability that revolves around wheelchairs and thus losing the focus on the person. Yet for those with early onset dementia in particular, gardens and plants can be a lifeline providing a sense of place and gentle, therapeutic benefit.
The Unexpected Garden aims to challenge perceptions of dementia by first and foremost creating a stylish garden that any visitor to the Australian Garden Show Sydney might be attracted to. However, on deeper inspection, the visitor will find that the garden has unexpected design messages and qualities that might help someone living with dementia.
The garden is structured along a simple flowing path, opening to a planted space with water, a natural seat and then onto an open space with a pavilion and further seating. The exploratory element is important, allowing someone to wander, to get a sense of place and not to be faced with dead ends, crossing lines and decisions about direction that might confuse them.
The simplicity of hard materials is important. The pavilion is open at the sides and roof to allow free exploration yet give a focus to the space. The path surface is deliberately a single material choice so as not to confuse and encourage freedom to explore. The texture of the bronze water bowl is tactile just like the still water it contains and the simple seating is comfortable and practical.
Plants provide a gentle sensory experience through texture, movement, fragrance and colour to stimulate the senses. The design includes familiar native plants that might be important in stimulating feelings of wellbeing as well as new ornamental species such as Dianthus “Memories”. Trees shelter but do not encroach on the space, planting comes right up to the path to give the opportunity to touch, smell and feel the planting.
Australian Garden Show Sydney will be held September 4 – 7 at Centennial Park.
For more information visit: www.australiangardenshowsydney.com.au