Sensory garden takes shape

We all love a beautiful garden. However, for people with physical, cognitive and sensory challenges, an accessible garden can be life changing.

The new sensory garden under construction at VMCHs’ residence for people with an acquired brain injury, Austin Street, will give them a safe, tactile and relaxing environment to enjoy nature.

The only garden they have is a courtyard with a beautiful maple tree. The layout of the space has stopped many residents, several who are in wheelchairs, from fully enjoying it.

That is until now. Villa Maria Catholic Homes supporters have raised more than $30,000 to build a sensory garden for the 10 residents.

With no government funding available, VMCH asked for donations to help pay for the redesign and landscaping of the existing garden.

The generous donations have paid for three unique landscaped spaces for residents to enjoy.

Landscaper, Damien Carmody, of YMCA ReBuild is currently creating the sensory garden and it will feature a paved pathway for wheelchairs and a raised pond with goldfish. The sensory garden will surround the pond and feature plants that stimulate the senses.

He has finished a smaller and more private garden in the spa room. This is a lovely space with a timber deck, landscaped garden and retaining wall. They have also landscaped the Avery where residents enjoy watching two playful birds fly around and sing.

Austin Street manager Jo Herbert said residents were already using the two smaller spaces and were looking forward to seeing the courtyard finished.

What is a sensory garden?

Most gardens are visually appealing, but a sensory garden is designed to stimulate the other senses as well. The design is also interactive and accessible. 

Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens feature sensory gardens: the Grey Garden, the Herb Garden and the Children’s Garden.

Austin Street:

Austin Street is Victoria’s first residence for young people with an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) who may otherwise be forced to live in a nursing home.

Regardless of the severity of their ABI, the short and long-term goal for Austin Street is to improve their independence and return them to the community as soon as possible.

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