| || |
Accessible Gardening Environments
The ideal accessible garden has paved paths so a wheelchair user can maneuver around with ease. Obviously hiring a contractor to pave or lay a brick floor is very expensive, but if you think you can afford it, don't hesitate! You'll thank yourself for years to come and this will allow other wheelers to come visit and relax with you. But whatever paths you have should be wide enough to turn around in or make U-turns (a 60 inch turning radius is the standard rule). You must have access to the front, back, and sides of your planting beds, either by reach or using long-handled tools. It helps to draw a plan on paper.
If you can't afford to lay pavement down or a brick floor, an all-terrain wheelchair will make it easier to roll over uneven surfaces and wide-tread tires are kinder to grass. Laying wood planks down will provide a smoother rolling surface, but probably ruin your lawn.
Set up equipment to make it convenient for frequent use. Pull a cart with wheels along or a wagon with supplies if you can. Or, keep a cart set up in a convenient location. Hang bags of tools from them, and stash tools around your garden that you'll reach for often—even duplicates. If you have space, set up a tool shed.
For Blind or Visually Impaired Gardeners
For those who are blind or have visual impairments, raised beds are closer for locating, touching, and smelling. Try planting herbs or flowers with a nice fragrance, such as basil and hyacinths. Also use plants distinguishable by texture, such as ferns and soft petal flowers. Hang up a wind chime to orient yourself to a specific part of your garden. Wind chimes can also add a sense of peace and tranquility. Try an inexpensive, store-bought rock garden with a fountain for the pleasant sound of gurgling water. It could be your meditative respite.
Add elements that appeal to all five senses—lots of color and variety—try varying levels with shelves or stands. Certain flowers attract birds or butterflies. A basic gardening book will recommend them. Birds also like a bit of water and food, of course. If you want to attract a lot of birds, create a diverse environment: Hang up a couple of different bird feeders with more than one kind of seed and get a birdbath. Birds also need shelter for nesting in a tree, bush, or under garage eaves. Birds add wonderful music to your garden!
Gardens (Source: Perkins School for the Blind)
Betty Ott Talking Garden for the Blind, Cleveland, OH
Elizabethan Herb Garden at Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Elsie McCarthy Sensory Garden, Glendale, AZ
Ethel L. Dupar Fragrant Garden c/o Seattle Lighthous for the Blind, Seattle, WA
Garden of Exploration at the Arkansas School for the Blind, maintained by the Herb Society of America, Arkansas unit
J.R. Curtis Garden for the Blind, Longview, TX
Marth Franck Fragrance Garden Morehead School for the Blind, Raleigh, NC