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Planning Retirement Online

Laterlife Gardening Review

 by Rosemary Martin

Each month I review a particular aspect of gardening, including new plants and products and where to buy them. Gardening is a vast subject and as far as possible the subjects covered will be seasonal.

Please e-mail me (Rosemary) with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of laterlife


As well as the spotlight topic below, take a look at the Gardener's Diary, if you haven't already done so. It includes all those jobs in the garden for June.


June - 2002

Gardening for the disabled and the less agile.

As we age our bodies become less supple and our strength diminishes, so we need to adapt our gardens and gardening habits to enable us to meet our changing circumstances and special needs. For some people with disabilities gardening will always have been a challenge and I hope that I can give everyone some useful hints here. Further down this page I am mentioning a bit about sensory gardens

When we moved to our present house three years ago I was very mindful of my own advancing years and the need to `wind down` a little, and with this in mind I planned our large garden for easy maintenance. I planted some raised borders that could be worked on without too much bending, and we have ramps instead of steps, which gives easy access for wheelbarrows and wheelchair-bound visitors. The borders are filled with evergreen shrubs, trees and plants, that are all chosen for their ease of maintenance, and mulched with bark or compost to keep the weeds down.  All paths and paved areas are wide and non slip. It`s as near as I can get to an easy garden. Of course if my husband had his way he would replace the lawn with concrete painted green, and dot some artificial plants about! 

I could fill several pages with information about this subject, but will highlight some helpful hints and websites below:

  • Replace lawn with a solid surface such as pavers. Gravel is not wheelchair friendly or good for the balance

  • Make ramps rather than steps, including entrances and exit points

  • Raised flower beds are easier to work on from a wheelchair or if movement is difficult

  • Plant easy care plants such as evergreens which require little or no maintenance and look good all year round

More help from these websites below:

  • Make a shady area that is under cover as protection from the sun or wind the national horticultural charity that uses gardening to improve the lives of disabled, disadvantaged and older people. 

  • Using a mulch on borders will suppress weeds and conserve moisture, reducing the need for watering  for specialised gardening tools and equipment. A whole range of gardening tools with secure on-line ordering and shipping worldwide.

  • Finally, enquire with your local authority to see if there are any grants or help available. Often there are groups of volunteers willing to help out. 


Have a look at  - Thrive is the national horticultural charity that uses gardening to improve the lives of disabled, disadvantaged and older people. I have been spotlighting some news from Thrive in my last three columns and you can read about them below: 



International flower artist arranges 1,842 for charity

Gardening is the nation`s favourite pastime

Thrive in the morning with GMTV appeal 


Sensory Gardens

Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Our five senses..  If any of these senses has been lost or has diminished through illness or age, it is even more important to stimulate the remaining sensations, and this is how a sensory garden can help. Plants and materials chosen for their therapeutic potential need to have multipurpose uses, and have interesting textures, sounds, scents, tastes and colours. They also need to be able to adapt to the seasons. 


  • Sight: In a sensory garden much use is made of colour for setting the mood, with calming pastels in some areas and bold, hot colours to cheer people up, in others. Flowers grown for picking have great benefit for people unable to go outside, while providing enjoyment for those that can.

  • Sound: Sounds take on added importance in the sensory garden. Bird song, wind in the tall grasses, running water, wind chimes, bees buzzing and all the neighbourhood noises such as lawn mowers and dogs barking, are all summer sounds. And who doesn`t get pleasure from walking on dry rustling leaves in the winter?  

  • Touch: Interesting  textures, whether they be plants or man-made ornaments, will enhance enjoyment of the garden.  

  • Smell: The different perfumes from flowers and shrubs is certain to lift the spirits of most people, and Aromatic herbs such as Sage, the lemonade powder scent of Golden Marjoram and the yellow Pineapple Sage will surely get mouths watering.

  • Taste: A fruit or vegetable garden is another important aspect of a sensory garden. Herbs for cooking with and home grown fruit and vegetables to nurture, will all help to give people a sense of achievement and confidence. 

Get plenty of ideas and information for making your own sensory garden, by visiting the following website:-


Next month I will be spotlighting water conservation and weeding.

  Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary




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