I refreshed my potpourri with lavender just yesterday, and was suddenly telewafted back to a garden for the blind, a little garden I once knew well. I think it was called a ‘Fragrant Garden for the Blind’ or something like that. It offered an environment that someone with low vision would enjoy visiting just for the smells, and it housed a range of plants with scents that set one another off, in a thoughtfully arranged composition. As I remember, it was a great success and we found it very relaxing to sit and sniff.
This set me thinking (as well as sniffing). Could that fragrant garden have been created and looked after by blind gardeners? Why not?
At one time or another most of us enjoy cultivating our own little patch. It’s pretty well an instinct.
Gardening! If you are a keen gardener, and you lose vision, you probably won’t want to give it up. If you have an existing sight problem, you might want to take it up.
I investigated. In the UK 100 000 people with impaired vision of some description say their garden is their main hobby.
It turns out there is a wealth of really useful help and advice. In my former life as a fully sighted person I never really thought about such matters. I sat in a scented garden and imagined for a minute or so that I was blind. But then it made no deep impact.
But now I have a better understanding, and finding that there is such a richness of support for low vision gardeners is very exciting and positive.
The RNIB have a fascinating page here which you might enjoy reading as much as I did. There is also a small charity Thrive. I particularly liked the thought and understanding that has gone into all this and the very practical and detailed advice given, which showed how well the authors understood the problems faced by anyone with low vision. To me the fact that people have created all this shows how much good there can be in the human kind.
I’ve tagged this post, amongst others things, as an Experiment in Vision. Mostly when we suffer loss of vision the alternative senses we come to rely on more are hearing and touch. Smell is for dogs, we often think. But try going outside, shutting you eyes, listening for what you hear, sensing yourself, and sniffing deeply. You may be surprised how much you can appreciate, and how much your nose knows.
Here is a picture of a garden for the blind, in Carlton Hill, taken from Wikimedia Commons.
Smell the herbs.