Green fingers help a school garden to heal

26th July 1996 at 01:00
Stanmore House school, which provides residential and day facilities in Lanark for children with profound and complex handicaps, has been given a garden classroom, largely thanks to BBC Scotland's Beechgrove Garden programme and staff and students at Oatridge Agricultural College.

The garden provides a wide variety of sensory stimulations for the school's 84 pupils, aged five to 18, and its 25 pre-fives. It was designed by John Smith, a horticultural lecturer, with help from Brian Millar, who specialises in landscaping. Students gave nine weeks' labour to put the plans into action.

Climbers, thornless roses and ferns were chosen for colour, an interesting feel or a strong scent. Long grasses have proved useful in providing rustling sounds in the wind. Many of the plants are in boxes above ground level to be accessible to children in wheelchairs. In the centre of the garden a fountain plays water on a floor of large pebbles.

The project was inspired by a Pounds 1,000 award when the school was selected as one of 20 finalists in the Community Corner Competition sponsored by Scottish Enterprise. The Beechgrove Garden production team gave advice and helped raise an estimated Pounds 30,000 worth of sponsorship.

Janice Bridges, the headteacher, says the garden will "nicely complement existing classroom and therapy work". Nancy Luke, a physiotherapist, adds: "It provides a motivation that you might not get in the classroom and a quiet place to get to know the pupils better."

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