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RNIB collaborates with garden designers to create a specially designed multi-sensory long border at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park

Visitors to the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park from Wednesday 19 – Sunday 23 July will be able to explore a specially-designed long border by touch, smell and sound called ‘Seeing Through The Senses.'

Flower show visitors will be able to use their smartphones to click on QR codes which will delve into the concept of the garden and its planting. Sighted guests will be able to try out ‘sim specs’ which are designed to imitate five major sight loss conditions, so they can experience the garden as if they had sight loss.

Natasha Lloyd, garden designer said: “The Seeing through the Senses border provides a stimulating experience of sound, scent and touch. While the bold colour scheme, multi-sensory planting and strong forms have been designed for those with sight loss, the planting aims to appeal to and inspire a wider audience to play with vivid colours, texture, sound, and aromatic plants in their own gardens.”

The designers have followed RNIB advice such as: not having too many scented plants as a mass of scent could be confusing; planting paler against darker colour plants to create contrast; and using sound markers in the garden with the sounds of rustling leaves, grasses and running water.

The garden is planted with perennials and grasses with purples and yellows to create bold visual contrasts at opposite ends of the colour wheel. Softer white cultivars and silver foliage balances these vivid colours creating a twilight 'glow' that it’s hoped will assist navigation as the evening light fades. A tactile slate watersphere by Jeremy Hastings enhances the calm, soothing atmosphere of the border.

Anna Tylor, Chair of RNIB said: “As a partially sighted keen gardener, I’m hugely excited about this beautiful border created by Natasha and Emma and I can’t wait to visit it in person. Living with sight loss does not mean you have to give up gardening, far from it. I have developed my own techniques for identifying plants and growing them and being connected to my garden shows me there is continuity between a time before and after sight loss. I hope this design inspires many people with sight loss to pick up their trowels and get planting!”

Notes to editors:

RNIB Chair of Trustees Anna Tylor who herself has sight loss and is a keen gardener, will be available for press interviews at the show on July 19. To arrange a media interview with Anna, please contact RNIB’s PR team on [email protected] or 07543508908. For urgent enquiries out-of-hours, please call 07968 482812.

RNIB partners with horticultural charity Thrive to offer hints and tips to people with sight loss on how they can get involved in gardening. We also offer advice on how to plan gardens and nature trails with sensory needs in mind. You can find all these resources here.

Dr Emma-Jayne Blair is a garden and planting designer with a particular interest in therapeutic and wellbeing gardens, wildlife-friendly and resilient planting, and widening participation to growing and green spaces. Emma-Jayne completed her design training at KLC School of Design, London, graduating with a Distinction and the Andrew & Karen Howes Award for Best Historical Garden. She then went on to study for her RHS Level 2 at Hever Castle before starting her own garden and planting design studio, Oughton Blair Garden Design.

Natasha Lloyd is a garden designer based in southwest London, who enjoys working with clients to realise the full potential of their outdoor spaces. After enrolling at KLC School of Design, she qualified with Distinction in Garden Design and was awarded the St Ann’s Special School prize for her series of sensory garden designs for both pupils and staff. She has recently established Natasha Lloyd Gardens, offering services in garden and planting design, and garden consultancy to clients in London and the Home Counties.