There are two aspects to planting in gardens for people with failing sight. The first is using tools and aids to make potting of seeds, bulbs and seedlings easier, in their early stages. The second stage is planting out in the garden as the year moves on.
Potting Seeds, Bulbs and Seedlings
For the indoor stage it’s all about planning, arrangement and layout. Clear the bench or table where you will be potting so that nothing else is in the way. If possible use different shapes and styles of container or germinator for each type of seed. Using large germination trays with rows of recesses is easier to organise than lots of individual small pots. They are also harder to knock over.
Arrange the bench so that the seeds that need to be kept in the dark are on one side and those that need to be exposed to light are on the other. You can then cover all the ones that like darkness with one large blanket or cloth.
The key to successful planting out is to use bold, bright markers for each tray during this first stage. If you can still make out writing, use large white markers with bold black felt tip. If that’s not an option, use markers of different fluorescent colours.
You could also cut markers from plastic or stout card, making them different shapes. You then need to make a chart or key of some sort that you can refer to later, perhaps speaking the words into a dictaphone. This will help you to match the shape or colour to a plant when it’s time to plant out.
And that’s what this level of preparation is all about, being able to identify which seedlings were put where when the time comes to plant them out in the garden. You will then need tools for digging with brightly coloured handles to make them easier to see. Wrap fluorescent tape round the handles if they aren’t visible enough.
Take care when walking out to the area where you are planting. If you have well defined beds you can put little markers, like small wooden pegs, at the edges of the beds to mark the boundaries between different planting areas. Another alternative is brightly coloured string between pegs to mark these boundaries.
There’s a lot you can do to make the garden easier and more accessible generally, which will then help with planting out. Take a look at our article on gardening with failing sight for general hints and tips.
If you are planting out in containers, try to restrict each container to one type of plant. This will make it easier to identify weeds as they come through because they will be different to the plants around them.
Design Planting for a Sensory Garden
Finally, don’t forget to choose plants that complement failing sight. Pick bright colours and design a layout that features strong contrasts and select plants with a strong scent.
Herbs are an obvious choice as they release scent as people brush past them. Others worth considering are carnations, sweet peas, geranium and a relatively new arrival, the chocolate cosmos. This last has chocolate coloured flowers that are reputed to smell ‘chocolaty’ as well!
So choose planting to enhance the colour and smell of the garden, take steps to make the planting process easy and safe, and carry on enjoying the garden for as long as possible.