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Breaking Down the Barriers

Genre: Fact, Article, The Really Wild Nursery and Arthritis Care ‘Breaking Down the Barriers Garden Project’, (R-Suitable for All)

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When I was first approached to write for The Really Wild Nursery and Arthritis Care South West garden project my first reaction was probably one bordering on mild panic. I had never attempted this type of writing before, and it brought a whole new meaning to the process itself. Previously, whether I succeeded, I was the only one involved, but this was for a worthy cause and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

I have seen Kathryn’s business steadily progress, but I knew this was her first attempt at such an ambitious project, and I had to wonder whether we had both bitten off more than we could chew. I’m pleased to say that we both met our own personal expectations, and each other’s…even surpassed them.

Kathryn Moore of The Really Wild Nursery and Sue Tanton of Arthritis Care (SW) asked for me to write all press releases and articles required to help make this project a success. The project, entitled Breaking Down The Barriers, stemmed from the sole idea of bridging the gap between gardening and disability, and we wanted to break down both professional and self-inflicted barricades.

Part of the writing process is to seek out new challenges. One of the most interesting yet nerve-wracking pieces was to visualise the garden and describe it in a way suitable for translation into braille. Although we were highlighting arthritis, Kathryn and her team wanted to build a garden that was suitable for all to enjoy.

The project was clearly a success. For Kathryn, not only was it the personal satisfaction of a job well done, but she was proud to announce that her small team had excelled themselves!

Finally managing to speak with her at the Malvern Spring Show, we were able to discuss her entry and the responses she had received. It was clear that she had achieved her aim — the enquiries far exceeding her expectation. The main consideration behind this project was always to draw attention to the widespread existence of arthritis and show that with a little care, thought and perseverance, anything is possible. Although only able to present her ideas on a reduced scale, visitors to the stand who had firsthand experience of such difficulties — particularly wheelchair users — were very enthusiastic and relieved that someone had taken the time to cater to their needs.

“Of course, this is just a demonstration,” Kathryn told me. “I hope people will leave with ideas that can be adapted for their own gardens, but I feel that this design can be modified to fit a patio or expanded on a grander scale depending on the size of the garden.”

Whilst viewing her design it is easy to imagine that if one area of the garden were particularly favoured, this could be enhanced to become a focus point, while others could be kept to a smaller scale.

Facing the end of a very long weekend I asked her whether the hard work and resistance she had encountered in some quarters, had left her with any regrets or dampened her enthusiasm for continuing to publicise the project.

“During the show I helped escort a blind girl around the raised herb bed,” Kathryn replied with a smile and a slight shake of her head. “To see her face light up as she smelt the herbs and felt the various textures was indescribable. It proved that there was something in this design for everyone, and I couldn’t have been more pleased.”

The raised herb garden was sent to Orton Rigg at Poole in Dorset — a rest home run by Arthritis Care — and Kathryn would like to thank her team who deserve recognition for working such long and hard hours, even into the night.

© Sharon Maria Bidwell, all rights reserved.