All planting should be perennial and reasonably hard-wearing – to survive being played with. Pleached trees at the end of the plot provide privacy, but do not cast a strong shadow.
The grassed area can be mown, or left to grow longer – perhaps with a single path mown through it. This would encourage wildlife, and provide further sensory stimulation, whilst minimising maintenance cost.
THE SENSORY GARDEN
The design of this area centres on Edwards needs. The mud kitchen space provides sensory stimulation with no worries about mess.
Further in, the climbing frame forms the centre of a secluded, private space that is packed with plants of different textures, shapes, sounds, and smells. Other sensory items such as wind-chimes or texture walls can be placed here, making this area the centre of play.
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The Tepee provides a safe, calm space to retreat to if overwhelmed or needing space, but also allows Edward to look out on and maintain a connection with the outside world. It too, is surrounded by interesting plants which can reflect shadows on the walls of the tepee, prompting the imagination.
Wooden poles with red paint provide rhythm and stimulation. Repetition of red throughout the garden brings cohesion and structure.
On the other side of the path, there is a more open area with a bench for adults to rest and relax, whilst being able to keep an eye on what is going on.
The planting in this area is less dense, but provides soft boundaries to run around or even through.
This area is a little more structured and formal, giving a satisfying and practical area to plant and grow. This also has a role in the sensory garden, as the growing of vegetables and fruit provides a focus for growth, development and learning.
The main area is based around four raised beds. These are small enough to reach the centre from the edges, so that the soil is not compressed by walking.
A no-dig system can be implemented here, reducing the maintenance cost.
The path runs straight through this area, reflecting the more practical nature of the space, and to allow easy access to the circulation space at the end.
There is space for a chicken coop, a useful toolshed, cold frames made from the windows from the old shed, and a compost bin. A water butt could also be included, as well as more wildlife-friendly features such as wood piles, a bug hotel, or even a small pond.
Robust grasses, reliable perennials with dots of colour.