Creating a sensory garden for the whole community to enjoy at Woodlands

A woman presents sketched plans for The HideAway

Delia Wells helps to transform a piece of land into a sensory garden for the community to enjoy.

For the past year, we have wanted to transform a space belonging to Woodlands Methodist Church in Harrogate, North Yorkshire into a special sensory garden.

The garden was inspired by Foresight, a group for visually impaired adults who were in desperate need of an outdoor area to host their weekly gardening sessions, which provide enjoyment and development for the group.

Catherine Baxter, who has been the driving force behind the garden, has worked incredibly hard, but unfortunately you can’t get volunteers to dig a huge pathway and fill it with concrete!

When I heard about the Engage Foundation Community Awards, I knew this could be the boost we needed to get the garden off the ground. The whole process has been fantastic in bringing people together and I am incredibly proud to have received this award from Engage.

“The award from Engage has been the boost we needed to get Catherine’s vision off the ground”

With this award, we will be able to bring Catherine’s vision to life. The space will not only provide a valuable resource to Foresight, it will also benefit local schools, community groups and individuals, including Fairfax Community Centre, Tate House Residential Home and Harrogate Town Sure Start Centre.

The garden will be a place for people to relax, reflect and experience nature with all of their senses. It will include plants of different textures, colours and scents.

“The area has been designed to stimulate the senses and create a place of peace and harmony – something really special”

We are also going to improve access to the garden. It’s quite a narrow path at the moment with potholes, so it is very hard to get round with wheelchairs. With the award, we’ll be able to improve the pathway, helping local people get to the garden and making it even more inclusive.

With so many people coming to us, including visually impaired visitors, the sensory garden will make a big difference to the experiences people have here. The changes we are planning will also allow the community to get involved with developing the space, both by making suggestions and actually getting stuck in with the work.

“Now we’re ready to go with the money and it’s very exciting!”

Going through this process has really helped the project to gain momentum. We have been able to spread the word in the local community and we have gained so many more supporters and volunteers which has got us really fired up!

If we hadn’t won the award, the project would have taken an awfully long time. The land is such an important space for the community and the money will make such a difference. We’re so grateful for all the support we have received and we will certainly put the funding to good use.