Accessibility inspired gardens

BBC Gardener’s World designer Mark Lane is the UK’s first landscape designer who uses a wheelchair. Mark is helping to design Sense’s new sensory garden at TouchBase Pears in Selly Oak, Birmingham.  

I’m a wheelchair user and that gives me a unique perspective when it comes to designing gardens for communities. Accessibility and inclusivity are always at the heart of everything I do, so it’s wonderful to be working with Sense on their new sensory, community garden.

When it’s complete, the garden will act as a nature hub. It will be a pioneering example of disabled-led outdoor design.

It's the design for the new garden in Birmingham - it's a digital image showing two paths running alongside vibrant flowerbeds which intersect further up. To the left is an open paved space. There are lots of flowers.

Growing together

I will be collaborating with people from the local community and the horticultural charity Thrive throughout the whole project. And together, we’ll create a safe space for disabled people and the wider community.

Why gardens matter

Gardens give us an immeasurable sense of wellbeing, both physically and mentally. And by using accessibility as a form of inspiration along with cutting-edge design, we will encourage, support and empower people with complex disabilities to enjoy being outside.

We’ll increase physical activity through gardening, and provide a space for outdoor exercise, movement and play.

But there will also be quiet spaces to sit, read and reflect and we’ll grow fruit, vegetables, and herbs.

The planned garden at Sense Touchbase Pears

Internal garden project

I’m fascinated by the work of Sense and Justin Wiggan on the internal garden project. Sound files are collated from plants so visitors to the garden can listen and feel the vibrations of plants as they grow around them. It’s very exciting for everyone, but especially for people who are deafblind or who have other sensory impairments. It means all of us can experience and sense living, growing plants in a whole new way.

It’s a totally unique project that I’ve not seen anywhere else, and it will make this garden truly accessible and inclusive.

A truly special garden

There’s a real excitement among everyone we’ve spoken to about this project. We aim to create something truly special for people with complex disabilities, co-made and designed by the people Sense supports.