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Charles Morris Hall, Leeds University

Sensory Garden

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Project Description

Storm Jameson Court is designed and accredited as ‘Access Exceptional’ by the Visit Britain National Accessible Scheme. However, whilst the site is home to student and conference wheelchair users, the grounds used to house fairly simple shrub planting, with little opportunity for engagement.

A wheelchair accessible sensory garden has been developed, focussed on people assessed on the autism spectrum (ASD). The planting scheme will have year-round interest, and is based on advice received from Buglife’s Urban Buzz scheme in York, and the RHS Perfect for Pollinators Plant List.

Additional objectives are to promote the well-being of students and visitors with ASD, with the planting scheme prioritised on known benefits.  Also to increase biodiversity, by attracting invertebrates through the planting of species on the RHS Pollinator List.  The year-round interest will assist invertebrates, especially the local Tawny Mining Bees located on campus, and also the bees that live in hives on top of the Laidlaw Library.

Additionally, the team worked with the RNIB to highlight the planting of varying textures and to produce supporting guides, delivering tactile and large print versions of hand-held guides which detail what is there to enjoy!

Benefits

The primary objective of the sensory garden is to improve access to the garden at Charles Morris Hall, thereby ensuring equal access and inclusiveness for all students, staff and visitors. The garden aligns to Leeds University’s strategic ambition to become ‘exemplars of urban biodiversity’.

Testimonials from visitors of the garden

“I’ve had no problems with accessibility with the new paths and beds, and they are at a really good height for me to reach from my wheelchair.”

“Painting the bottom layers is great as it means that there is a degree of demarcation in access routes” Simon Morris, visually impaired

“Finally took a walk to the garden this lunchtime with a partially-sighted friend who loved the Stachys (Lamb’s Ear) and was intrigued by the bee hotels – perfect reaction!” Vibi, Royal National Institute of Blind People

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