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The SeeAbility Garden

Three newcomers to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013, eye care charity SeeAbility, supporter Coutts and garden designer Darren Hawkes, have created a thought provoking and stimulating garden dedicated to sight loss. 

The SeeAbility Garden

SeeAbility worked with Darren to design a garden around the theme of sight loss which would encourage visitors to think about how people with a visual impairment might experience a garden setting. 

The SeeAbility Garden

The SeeAbility Garden focuses on the specific sight conditions of Glaucoma, Cataracts, Diabetic Retinopathy and Macular Degeneration, and translates these conceptually through its ingenious design, including a range of different materials and the use of a specific planting colour palette. 

The SeeAbility Garden

Coutts supported the garden which serves to raise awareness of, and help those with, visual impairments, while reinforcing Coutts' own long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The SeeAbility Garden

The SeeAbility Garden includes approximately fifty different species, from large columnar Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata' trees and includes a plant not seen at Chelsea before, Mahonia 'soft caress', which is a perfect patio plant that grows a maximum of 1.2m.

The SeeAbility Garden

Partially sighted people often have trouble distinguishing between different plants and colours when they are planted randomly. For this reason The SeeAbility Garden has lots of block planting – in vibrant lime greens alongside burgundies and purples and soft yellows for strong visual impact. The overall effect is thought provoking and eye catching.

A summary of key plants:

-    Verbascum bombyciferum, a vertical verbascum that resembles a summer sorbet of soft-lemon flowers and white swan's down, stretching up into the sky and often reaching over six feet in height.  This has been chosen for its architectural qualities
-    Other daisy like plants include Anthemis tinctoria 'Sauce Hollandaise', an herbaceous perennial forming a clump of finely divided leaves, with cream daisies on erect, branching stems.  In bright sunshine there can be no better plant for capturing the hopefulness of early summer.  This is the perfect choice for reflecting the attitude of SeeAbility: positive, bright and forward thinking.
-    Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’, whose golden green leaves turn a beautiful bronze-purple has been planted in between the Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata' trees. These are classic foliage shrubs that are hardy in mild areas and flower from July to August.
-    Fans of euphorbias will not be disappointed as the quite unusual and relatively new Euphorbia x pasteurii and better known Euphorbia ‘mellifera’ are just two of several zingy green varieties on the garden.
-    E. x pasteurii, a hybrid of E. stygiana and E. ‘martinia’, and an evergreen shrub that resembles a classy dense rhododendron in leaf, has been selected as its yellow, honey scented flowers typically appear from April to June – the SeeAbility team is hopeful that our E. x pasteurii will live up to expectations. Geranium ‘Black Beauty'  is a hardy geranium with dark burgundy foliage and the perfect garden plant for many positions, including planters and borders. The plant produces pink flowers continuously, and typically sprawls happily into October. 
-    Heuchera are more or less evergreen, clump-forming perennials with attractive, rounded lobed leaves and panicles of small, tubular flowers.  Darren’s choice of Heuchera ‘Obdisian’ forms a mound of sharply lobed, dark purple/black leaves with tall red stems of ivory flowers in summer.