Discovering a garden which helps people who live with a Dementia.

Jo at St. Catherine's House St Catherine’s House is a Grade 11 listed Victorian building set in beautiful parkland grounds in the heart of Doncaster.

Within the grounds of St Catherine's House there is a very special garden which offers a wonderfully relaxed environment for people to take time out to enjoy the historic surroundings and unwind in the peace and tranquility Full of roses, lavender and wide pathways, The Community Dementia Garden is designed to appeal to each sense with fragrant flowers, tactile plants and even edible produce from the raised beds. The fountain provides movement and a focal point and there are seating areas to relax and enjoy the setting.

The garden team is made up of a mix of staff, volunteers and people who need support to gain skills and confidence on their pathway to employment. And they have also introduced bird feeders to attract more birds into the garden whilst a wide selection of plants provide food for a variety of insects.

All this combines to provide a space that can help spark memories for visitors who have a Dementia and thus help them to reconnect with the world around them and share their memories of gardens, plants and flowers. Maybe they will remember their own garden from home and reminisce about the enjoyment that it brought them, or perhaps they will recall visiting other gardens in great houses that brought them joy too.

Gardening can be fun and a very therapeutic way of getting residents more active and engaged with their surroundings and, if offered as a group activity, can also help them to engage with other residents more often too.

One of the beautiful scented lavender beds in The Walled Garden at St Catherine's House

Although I don't personally have any first hand experience of Dementia, I was still able to appreciate this garden as a restful place for the soul, and I recommended Jo took advantage of it too, after she'd delivered her brilliant interactive talk on improving mealtimes for people who live with a dementia. In fact, this is also part of the garden’s aims, to be welcoming to the wider community, not just for people visiting who live with a Dementia and their carers. In the newly refurbished greenhouse and retail area you can purchase plants and fresh produce throughout the year.

A new terrace area links the recently updated Cafe Flourish with the gardens, making for a perfect place to sit, relax and enjoy the tranquility whilst sampling their freshly prepared dishes using locally sourced produce, delicious cakes and specialty coffees and teas.

My particular favourites were the alliums and the lavender, both of which I grow in my own garden at home.

Do you offer a gardening space for your residents who live with with a Dementia? Or maybe a window box or raised bed with some paper windmills or even a garden gnome!? Growing your own herbs and vegetables can also be an option if you have a chef who wants to get involved.

Safety and accessibility are important considerations when creating a garden for residents living with a Dementia but there are many physical, cognitive and social benefits.

Admiral Nurse Dave talks here about some of the benefits:

'Gardening can provide a fantastic opportunity for stimulation of all the senses. There are the sensations of touch – soil, flowers, bark (but mind the thorns!), and perhaps the feel of a gentle wind, of sun or rain. There is visual stimulation – an amazing range of colour and shapes, sunlight, as well as the wildlife a garden can offer. There are the smells of flowers and vegetables, of herbs or of a freshly mown lawn. And there are the sounds – birdsong, insects, and rustle of wind in trees; and of course, there is taste – eating fruit, vegetables, and even edible flowers such as nasturtiums or marigolds.'

There’s also something very enriching about running fingers through soil.

If you’re looking for a restful spot then I’d recommend this garden for a visit.

Further reading on the benefits of gardening for your residents can be found here and here.

Today's piece was written by Amy Purser who works with Jo and Hcsuk to bring our message to you.


One of the many rose beds at St Catherine's House.

Leave a Reply