Garden of Tranquillity: a sanctuary for dementia
A safe, tranquil and sensory space designed specifically as a respite for people living with dementia and their carers will shortly take shape within the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). With natural boundaries for privacy, fragrant plants, comfortable seating, a water rill and art, this social inclusion project is quickly mustering support from visitors.
Conceived by Judy Good, while studying for her RBGE Diploma in Garden Design, the idea started as a piece of coursework with very personal resonance, as she explained: “I was inspired by my good friend, Gillian Lindsay, whose mum had early onset dementia and is now, sadly, in the very late stages of the disease. Gillian was always looking for places to take her mum, where they could get out of the house and spend time together, but where her mum felt safe and relaxed. It can be difficult. There are not many places in Edinburgh and the surrounding area where this need can be met.”
Her remarks were backed by Gillian: "In the eight years that we’ve lived with my mum’s dementia, we’ve come to realise that, for her, we can’t prevent the disease getting worse. Our sole purpose when we’re with her is to try to help her have a sense of contentment in the present. With her fading memory and understanding of the world, life can feel very stressful and complicated for her. To help with this, we talk to her about the immediate things around us. Our one-way conversations are made easier by being in a place where there is a feeling of beauty and calm, as well as a variety of sights and scents and sounds to prompt our observations.
“A garden created with this in mind would be an ideal place for us to spend time together, to reminisce on her behalf and to be peaceful and happy in the moment. Such a huge part of the Botanics’ own history is about being therapeutic and restorative and I see immense value in having a garden there which brings an element of this to people living with dementia now."
On the Sorbus Lawn, just yards from the Botanic Cottage where regular Dementia Socials already take place, an interpretation panel explains the vision for the future. With RBGE Members raising £10,000 and that sum being matched by the Castansa Trust, the project is also supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Public donations are now being invited and, all going according to plan, work will start in late September for a spring opening.
“Recent visitor and Membership surveys highlighted the impact the Garden already has on personal health and wellbeing”, added fundraiser Lucinda Jeffery. “As an organisation RBGE places considerable importance on this area and our management were keen to support Judy’s project. Once told, our Members lost little time in supporting the idea and there is a real feeling that the Garden of Tranquillity will reach out to vulnerable members of the community and provide them with a special experience.”
For more information, interviews or images please contact: Shauna Hay on +44 (0)131 248 2900/07824529028 or Sandra Donnelly on 0131 248 1037
Donations can be made at: https://donate.rbge.org.uk/tranquillity.html
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education and plant conservation action around the world. In Scotland its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Logan and Dawyck attract around a million visitors each year. It operates as a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. It is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. Its mission is “To explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future”.
Learn more: www.rbge.org.uk
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