Fabulous new raised beds

Off
The new beds, covered in frost!

Some while ago we realised that our existing raised beds had seen better days… they were literally falling apart at the seams. They’d seen a good life and had been in use for about 15 years, we think, but it was becoming clear that they were no longer fit for purpose. They were awkwardly low for a standing gardener and too difficult to access with a wheelchair… time for something new…

Falling apart!

After some fabulous fundraising we finally had enough money to complete the project in December 2020. We are very grateful to the NGS Elspeth Thompson Bursary, The Beatrice Laing Trust and The London Marathon Charitable Trust Ltd for their generous grants that have enabled us to complete this project.

We researched high and low and finally decided to use raised planters made by WoodblocX. They are long lasting, straightforward to build, very highly recommended and they look really nice. Perfect for The Therapy Garden! Requirements were discussed, measurements were taken, sizes were reviewed and wheelchair users were consulted! WoodblocX designed 5 bespoke planters for us, including two special planters each with 6 wheelchair spaces.

The old wooden planters were dismantled and removed from site, the old growing medium was relocated and the ground cleared and levelled. We took the opportunity to have all the paving reset around the new beds giving a nice level surface for safe and easy access.

Finally it was time to install the new raised beds – so exciting. Each piece of wood fits alongside or on top of the next in a particular layout. Special pegs slot through each piece to connect it to the one below in a brick-like formation – apparently it was a bit like building a big Lego model!

Once built, the beds could be filled with fresh compost and a new set of irrigation pipes were attached to the water source. All set for planting!

The disabled access bays are particularly brilliant. We decided to finish them in a couple of different ways in order to allow alternative kinds of access. Some have a top which a client can tuck their wheelchair under in order to carry out table-top activities. Some don’t have a table top, to allow a client to wheel closer in to get their hands in the soil all around their chair space. A normal chair can also be used at these stations – perfect for a seated outdoor group activity – the spaces are close enough to be very sociable and also give enough space to get some good gardening done!

Now we just need to get some plants in! Spring 2021 will be the perfect time to get started.

Penny Walters

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