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The Old Garden, Hoylake

This project involved the redesign of the main outdoor space of this appropriately named care home to create a dementia friendly garden with active areas, calm spaces, way-marked circular pathways and a sensory planting scheme. The owners commissioned The Josie Sara Charity to improve the outdoor area aesthetically and ensure a safe, interesting garden that could be enjoyed by all the residents, visitors and staff, and which was also easy to maintain.

Dementia friendly design features

A simple layout which is easy to understand and navigate reduces stress levels.

A circular pathway takes you safely back to the beginning, no confusing dead ends, and distinct features on the way round to act as way markers.

Smooth paths, wide enough for 2 people with seating on the way to rest.

A small boat, with grasses, pebbles and a pine tree is evocative of childhood days by the sea side – triggering early well-established memories is comforting.

Raised beds provide interest at eye level.

Blue planting in the main flower bed is calming.

Welfare benefits to residents, carers and management

More useable space with pathways and interest that draw you out to take advantage of the fresh air and exercise.

Interaction with nature enhances wellbeing.

Raised residents’ flower and vegetable beds encourage individuality, creativity, sense of ownership and autonomy.

Gardening has multiple welfare benefits such as increasing strength and balance, stimulating memory and creativity, and seeing a project through gives satisfaction.

Convivial seating areas encourage social interaction.

Planting that appeals to the senses eg. blue planting is calming, plants such as lambs ears and tall grasses are tactile and interesting for those with a sight impairment, the water sphere creates a calming background noise, flowers chosen for their scent are powerful for reminiscence.

A planting scheme with year-round interest means there is always something to enjoy and announces the seasons.

Benefits to the environment

The blue planting that calms the mind is also good for attracting pollinators.

A greater variety of plants and the wildlife they attract boosts biodiversity.

Avoiding water-demanding plants reduces water consumption.

Bird feeders benefit birds which in turn provide interest for residents.

Where possible plants from the original garden were kept or repositioned.

From the designer:

The outdoor area at The Old Garden was already a beautiful sunny, quiet and sheltered spot and our remit was to make it more interesting, useable and varied in its planting scheme. The new design encompasses the existing pergola providing a focal point and a strong familiar feature for residents. With expert horticultural knowledge from local gardener and National Garden Scheme committee member, Sandra Fairclough, and from horticultural therapist Donna Rowe Green ( we created a fluid, multi-use, sustainable design which incorporates dementia design principles and which we hope will be enjoyed for years to come.

From the Director of The Old Garden:

What a transformation – We are delighted with our new Sensory Garden.  The space now provides a unique and life-changing environment for our residents, their friends and families and our staff.  The wealth of knowledge from Antonia, Sandra and Donna has been brought together to ensure every aspect has been well designed and for all of our senses to enjoy.  The Old Garden would like to thank the ladies for their contributions, guidance, support and patience, which will benefit all of our lives on a daily basis.  Thanks to GJF Construction’s team for bringing the plans to life too.

From some of the residents:

Beautifully laid out… BC🪴

A gorgeous garden , relaxing and a treat… AF 🪴

Beautiful flowers , relaxing, it’s just idyllic… VMJ🪴

First word … beautiful! The beauty is something else , you don’t want to leave… AW 🪴

Its gorgeous, very inviting and peaceful, just lovely. I enjoy a walk and a coffee with my friend there each day… MO 🪴

I think it’s absolutely beautiful and beautifully set out , calming , tranquil and  I’ve never seen such magnificent Delphiniums! … and Thank you for all the hard work and thought gone into the garden… AE 🪴



Associate Member of Everton Minds


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The Josie Sara Charity for Dementia Wellbeing is a registered charity, number 1178209
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