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Green fingered students create sensory garden

Borders College Horticulture students and staff recently helped to transform the garden of the NHS Dementia Unit at Melburn Lodge in Melrose, enhancing both the patients’ comfort and the students’ opportunities for learning.

Nigel Gibb, Horticulture Lecturer led the project and his students liaised with nursing staff to complete a design brief to develop a raised flower bed into a sensory garden.A planting design was presented to NHS Borders in the form of a mood board and scale drawing. Once this had been agreed, the group set to work creating their vision, planting a range of sensory plants to provide colour, smell, texture and movement for the Dementia Unit patients to enjoy and provoke their senses. Students managed their own budget when sourcing materials, and were able to include some plants they had grown themselves in the College glasshouse.The project offered the Horticulture students an excellent opportunity to see a project through from start to finish, and the workload was heavy with 3 tons of mushroom compost having to be dug in, not to mention mulching the raised beds with 2 tons of bark.

Christine Proudfoot, Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant at NHS Borders, said:
“It’s really valuable to have connections with our local community. Having the students on site has provided our ward with a wonderful sensory garden that really makes a difference to our patients, relatives and staff at Melburn Lodge.”

Patients of the unit are reaping the rewards from their greatly improved garden area which is the ideal place for them to enjoy with visitors and fellow patients.  One patient said: “The garden is important to me because it smells nice. I enjoy being outside in good weather, well in any weather. I like the birds, their sounds and seeing the bees and butterflies.”

Nigel himself commented:

“Staff at the Dementia Unit were most welcoming and provided the students with refreshments, and aided the students in watering the newly planted plants – a big thank you to them for their support.
“Our students will be returning this academic year to see how the garden is doing, as well as to complete another planting design and carry out any further maintenance that may be required.”

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