I was delighted to be asked by the producer of Beechgrove Garden to design a wheelchair accessible garden for Spinal Injuries Scotland. Designing a new garden is always a joy. This particular garden was full of very particular challenges. Working with members of the SIS organisation, volunteers and service users we created a garden that exceeded its brief in a way that did not shout disability. That I believe is the best thing about it.
My first venture into the garden was very far from wheelchair accessible. I found a neglected overgrown building site dominated by scaffolding and steel containers. However the most significant factor was the slope of the site. To be fully wheelchair accessible there are strict regulations about the angle of paths and the garden itself was not particularly big to fit these in.
It was also very important to me that the garden was not dominated by ramps and paths that defined the garden by disability. Rather my aim was to focus on ability and making the garden feel completely normal and accessible to those using it. Thus prioritising people with limited mobility without that being obvious or clumsy.
Reflecting the oval shape on the new extension being built. I designed a central tear drop shaped lawn contained within a smooth cobble effect path, wide enough for two wheelchairs to pass each other easily.
Special features of the garden
There are several special included in the garden that I would like to point out when I return to this post.
Keep an eye on this post for my next update……
Spinal Injuries Scotland is the national voluntary organisation concerned with new and long-term spinal cord injured people, their relatives and friends, along with those involved in the management, care and rehabilitation of the injury.
“Karen came up with a lovely design, incorporating separate areas for enjoying the garden in different ways – including raised beds for herbs, fruit and vegetables, and an ingeniously designed lawn, built at a level that would enable wheelchair users to transfer on to the grass far more easily than would normally be the case. Karen was enthusiastic and genuinely excited by the prospect of designing a garden with such a specific end user in mind.” Clare Byrne director of Spinal Injuries Scotland (SIS) - quoted from Beechgrove garden fact sheet
If you need inspiration for your garden design project, call Karen on 07757 235528