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In creating a garden for the blind, the senses of smell, hearing and touch take on prominence. Even without sight, a person can enjoy a garden simply by feeling the symmetry of leaves, touching the bark of different trees and feeling for buds at the start of spring. Even though a visually disabled person cannot enjoy the vibrant colors of a rose garden, they can enjoy the strong scent from such flowers. Because the sense of sight is taking aback seat in this garden, importance is also placed on maneuverability through the garden.
A Braille board should be placed at the entrance to the garden, explaining the topography of the garden and how to maneuver through it without assistance. Another Braille board at the entrance should explain the garden. To facilitate easier movement, the garden could be designed after a clock. One should enter the garden at twelve o’clock and walk clockwise through the garden; at each point on the clock, one would encounter plants of various scents and textures.
The path around the garden should be smooth and even in order to ensure easy independent movement. In contrast, small pebbles along the side of the path could indicate the presence of Braille boards that explain the plants. In addition, cobblestone or another stone variety could indicate the presence of benches. The flowerbeds could be raised about two feet from the ground. This would not only make it easier to touch and enjoy the featured plants but would also place flowers and plants at a perfect height for those guests with physical disabilities.
Furthermore, these exhibits could include hanging pots with plants of special interest. The plants placed in such pots would be those with special textures or appeals. As the potted plants grows to large for the pot, it can be planted in the flower bed and replaced with another interesting plant or simply a smaller version of the original plant.
As guests enter the garden, they should be greeted by the sounds of flowing water; a fountain or waterfall placed here would create a welcoming sound. Palm trees of various shapes and sizes placed around the water feature would provide an interesting texture for guests. Both the leaves and bark of these thriving plants would provide attractive textures.
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As a guest moves to one o’clock, the smell of citrus could greet them. This area could include orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime trees. Each tree would provide an interesting smell. In this area, the flowerbeds would not need to be raised, this would allow guests to touch the bark, leaves and fruit of the trees. Also, the hanging baskets in this area could include fruit to taste.
The following section of the garden could include many plants that are soft to the touch. For example, lamb’s ear, the licorice plant, the princess flower and the alyssum plant would provide leaves that are soft to the touch. These plants would need to be elevated in order to make it easier for a visually impaired person to enjoy the plants. In addition, colorful flowers such as tulips and snapdragons may be added to this area. They would bring appeal to guests with sight and have a slightly silky feel for the Blind guests.
As one moves through the garden, they would next encounter an herb garden. In this area, guests could not only touch and smell the plants but could also taste these plants. Herbs such as basil, oregano, tarragon, and thyme should be used and may remind one of an Italian dinner. This section would also need to be elevated in order to be easily reached and touched. Herbs such as rosemary and lavender should be used in other sections of the garden in which texture is emphasized. For example, lavender would make a good addition to the soft plant section because of it calming, soft scent.
The next section of the garden could emphasize the textures of different plant leaves. A philodendron, a variety of ferns, a weeping ilex and a wax myrtle would make a good choice for this area. This would also be a good area to add rosemary, because its leaves have an interesting texture and the plant must be touched in order to experience the scent.
While continuing through the garden, a guest could come upon a rose garden. In this section, roses with thorns should be placed back away from the path so that guests do not touch the thorns. However, wisteria could be placed along the path and touched because of its lack of thorns. In order to strengthen the rose scent, a mister could be placed in this area. The presence of water would intensify the scent of the roses and the humidity and light mist would appeal to a person’s sense of touch.
Another section of the garden could made of up different trees with an appealing bark texture. A crepe myrtle tree or a birch tree would provide a smooth bark, while a pine tree would provide a rough bark. Jasmine could be planted along the base of these trees and would provide a strong scent when in bloom. The final section of the garden could include more fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, bananas and pineapple. Each of these plants could be eaten and provide interesting textures. For example, the banana tree has large waxy leaves, which greatly contrast the spiny pineapple bush. Mint could also be planted in this area to provide an appealing smell.
Among these plants, birdbaths and bird feeders should be placed in order to attract a variety of birds. The sounds that these birds produce would be appealing to the guest’s sense of hearing. In addition, in order to make use of the wind, wind chimes could be placed in some of the trees. A variety of different chimes would produce different sounds and played together could create lovely music. By running a stream through the garden, the sounds of flowing water would also appeal to the guests. Also, brightly colored flowers could be added in various places around the garden. These would not only appeal to the sighted guests but would attract butterflies and other insects, which could appeal to a person’s senses of touch and hearing.