Sensory garden is to open at the weekend

Left to right, Lady Howick, Helen Sutherland, chairman of  NNBNAS, Lord Howick, Claire Wilce, volunteer, and Karen Swain, branch secretary of NNBNAS.
Left to right, Lady Howick, Helen Sutherland, chairman of NNBNAS, Lord Howick, Claire Wilce, volunteer, and Karen Swain, branch secretary of NNBNAS.

A special sensory garden will open at a popular Northumberland tourist attraction this weekend.

The new addition at Howick Hall Gardens will feature a special selection of plants and materials, laid out in such a way as to stimulate the senses.

Rebecca Turner in the new sensory garden at Howick Hall which has been created though a partnership with the North Northumberland branch of the National Autistic Society. Picture by Jane Coltman

Rebecca Turner in the new sensory garden at Howick Hall which has been created though a partnership with the North Northumberland branch of the National Autistic Society. Picture by Jane Coltman

Highlights include a labyrinth circle, interactive water feature, willow-dome circle and a wooden swing seat.

The aim of the sensory garden is to provide a stimulating and safe environment for children and adults with autism and other disabilities.

Its launch follows an approach from the North Northumberland Branch of the National Autistic Society (NNBNAS), and with funding from the National Garden Scheme (NGS).

And it has been hailed as a flagship sensory garden in Northumberland for people with autism and other disabilities.

One of the features in the sensory garden.  Picture by Jane Coltman

One of the features in the sensory garden. Picture by Jane Coltman

Helen Sutherland, NNBNAS chairman, said: “When the prospect of applying for a grant from the NGS was proposed to us from head office, we agreed on a sensory garden.

“As an existing garden attraction which prides itself in offering peace and tranquillity to visitors, Howick holds a special place in many of our hearts and we knew would be the ideal setting. We are grateful to Lord and Lady Howick for offering us this generous space to bring our garden to life and to the NGS for the financial backing.”

This unique garden has been designed by professional garden designer Natasha McEwen. She has worked with professionals and volunteers to create the garden as a self-contained space to blend into the natural setting of Howick Hall Gardens.

Lord Howick, chairman of the trustees for Howick Hall Gardens, said: “We hope the new sensory garden will make a difference to the lives of people living with autism.”

The sensory garden will be officially opened on Saturday by Viscount Ridley and his wife Anya, and will open to the public on Sunday. There is no additional fee to visit the sensory garden, standard entrance fees to Howick Hall Gardens apply.