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Created by award-winning garden designer Rae Wilkinson, whose healing urban garden took a silver gilt award at the 2015 show, and is part of the Summer and City Garden collection at this year's Hampton Court Flower Show.
Our Breath of Fresh Air project aims to highlight the therapeutic benefits of nature and the great outdoors for those who live with dementia, and we intend on using the sensory garden to highlight these issues. People with dementia do not go outside enough, with research showing that just 1 in 10 people with dementia getting any outside time each month.
The garden provides a rich, sensory experience with colours, sound and movement. It features a circular path with a sculptural handrail that threads through the central space, seats to sit and reflect, plus a soothing water bowl and a Mobius sculpture to represent continuous flow. Willow trees and blocks of grasses are also part of the stunning design.
Based on research carried out by Abbeyfield from a pilot scheme involving multiple care homes, the project helps older people in care benefit from spending more time outside and enjoying the benefits that gardening brings. It aims to radically improve the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia and other degenerative illnesses.
"If you can imagine not having the confidence to go outside or having a reason to venture outdoors," says April Dobson, our Head of Dementia Innovation, "it’s all too easy to understand the frustrations and distress people with degenerative health conditions including dementia can feel, particularly if they were once active gardeners or enjoyed being outdoors."
"One-time familiar activities such as digging and planting can trigger happy memories among people with the degenerative condition, while increased levels of Vitamin D from the sun as well as being outside and in touch with nature is proven to reduce agitation and help reduce potential symptoms of depression."
Residents living at Abbeyfield’s Victoria House in Kew have been working alongside Wilkinson to help create the garden. And once the show is over, it will be relocated there for residents, their families, volunteers and visitors to enjoy, while the Breath of Fresh Air project is rolled out at Abbeyfield houses and homes across the country.
The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, which is spread across 34 acres, takes place from July 5-10 2016. You can vote for our "A Breath of Fresh Air" garden - which is part of the "Summer / City Gardens" category - in the 'RHS Peoples Choice Award'.