Skip to main content

Planting the Blind Veterans UK garden

When you visit a garden show the planting design is always the element that visitors are most interested in. This is especially true of Hampton Court which attracts some very keen gardeners and plant collectors. This year we are celebrating the work of Blind Veterans UK with a community garden for the members, their families, staff and volunteers. It is for passive and active enjoyment and will be relocated after the show to their centre in Brighton.

The charity’s work for over 100 years, supporting blind and partially sighted ex-military personnel (the members) and their families is inspirational; helping members to regain their independence through activities and training. But we wanted to celebrate the whole community whilst making sure that we were maximising the potential for blind members to enjoy the garden.

This is especially important in the planting design and with 4 years experience working with the charity we have come to gain an understanding of the key factors to remember when designing with plants. Here are some ideas if you’re planting a garden for a vision impaired person.

1. Remember that vision impairment can still mean that people might be able to have some vision. Often this is in the form of colour and we’ve found that contrasting colours, especially yellow against blue or red is often seen.

2. But you need to be bold with the colour and use bright blocks, so avoid the delicate meadow look and bring in big sweeps of the same flower or mix red and yellow varieties of the same species such as red and yellow Crocosmia.

3. Fragrance is a big factor in all gardens but be bold again and let one scent predominate so that a vision impaired person recognises where they are from the fragrance.

4. Texture is also good and don’t forget bark as much as foliage. Were using the paperbark maple Acer griseum which has a great textured bark as will the Liquidambar and Acer davidii. Fruit trees also give an opportunity to experience the tree through touch.

5. Sound is a harder one as sounds can be confusing so whilst the sounds of say the wind through bamboo is great, it may be less useful in a garden than colour or fragrance.

6. We’re also creating a kitchen garden which also gives some opportunity for taste as well!

If you come to the show please pick up a leaflet and see what we’ve used to plant the garden for some summer inspiration.