Sunday, 7 June 2015

Conductive gardening



Gardening has played an important role in my life since I was very young. I have not always had a garden myself but I have always had the garden in Norwich to fiddle around in; earlier beside my Mother and now under instruction from my Father. In fact I am soon off to lend Dad a helping hand in his home and garden, and hopefully to gather advice for our new project at work. 

My Dad caring for the tadpoles

Raised beds

I have always dabbled with gardening with my clients but always on a small scale, in pots and window boxes, although I would love to do some on the scale of the Chelsea Flower Show that I have enjoyed viewing this week.

My colleague and I decided that it was time that we got a bit more adventurous than a few pots, perhaps by growing herbs and salad vegetables for the cookery group. Since the Autumn we have been looking at the many types of raised beds that are available for flower- and veggie-growing.

A long search

In March I attended the trade fair for workshops for people with disability where I saw a wonderful wooden pyramid planted with herbs and strawberries, but the price was way above our budget. We kept on visiting garden centres, Googling and scanning the advertisement papers, searching for something that was not too bulky and was accessible for both wheelchair-users and children. This took some time but eventually we came up with what one little boy says 'Looks just like the crib that Jesus sleeps in!'

The Veg Trug


We ordered our raised bed and waited patiently for its delivery. It eventually arrived late on Friday afternoon and it was all that we could do to stop the children unpacking it immediately and starting to build it. After we explained that we needed our friendly carpenter to help us adjust the height and add some wheels the children were content with making a visit to the neighbour who is a retired engineer to borrow the spanners that we would need to put the Trig together another day.

Another day

The stroke group arrived another day and they too were eager to get involved with the garden project. The husband of one of our group members had built several raised beds in their rural garden so that his wife could continue growing fruit and veggies after she had suffered a stroke. They have both given us advice and shared their enthusiasm with us.


One of the other group members had already put together a teepee for the runner beans and he was just as eager to help the carpenter when he arrived to start on the Veg Trug. As you can see in the photographs they made a good team.


Down to earth

Once the Veg Trug was in place on the terrace we had lots of people admiring, it even though it was still empty. The children lined the inner surface with fleece and we gradually filled it with the many kilos of earth that the children’s bus driver delivered to us over the next few days.



Little Princess loves getting dirty so she was in her element but another child chose to work with rubber gloves on. The gloves only lasted a few minutes; when he saw the joy that the others experienced running their hands through the soil he soon discarded his gloves and has never used them since.

With the Veg Trug now full with soil all that was needed was a few plants. We had already sown lettuce and beans, parsley and basil and they were all ready to move on into the bigger bed.



I had to rush home to England so I missed the planting action but I was back again to witness the growing and share in the task of watering. Watering the Trug has been the best motivation for walking, standing and both arm and finger movement. The children like to share the tasks. Some bring the large watering cans filled with water to the terrace; others fill the smaller cans and then bring them to more children who walk sideways around the Veg Trug while watering the plants. 


Team work

It seems as if the work never ends. Not only are we learning how to grow plants, we are also learning about woodwork. With the guidance of the Dad of one of our youngsters we are making small wooden signs so that we can label all our plants, just like at the Chelsea Flower Show. So we have borrowed all the tools that we need and the children are not only handling plants and soil for the first time in their lives but also holding a hammer and banging in nails for the first time too! We will use our artistic skills to decorate the signs, then finally practise spelling and writing skills to write the names  of our produce.




Many thanks to all who have helped us to bring this project, that has long been a dream, into fruition.




2 comments:

NormanP said...

Terrific Susie. Well done to everyone.

Susie Mallett said...

Thanks Norman, it is an on going project so I expect that I shall be posting updates in the future.

I have wanted to do something like this for years but have until now never had an enthusiastic colleague to help get it going, receiving the donation at Christmas really motivated us to get it started and it has been absolutely wonderful to see how the children and adults do things that they never thought they would manage.

Susie