‘Sense the Change’: improvements underway in Park House Sensory Garden

‘Calm’, ‘inspiring’ and ‘connected to nature’ were some of the words used to describe Park House Sensory Garden by visitors who dropped in to see the restorations taking place to mark its 30th anniversary this year.

Several improvements have already been made to the much-loved garden, including repairs to the central sundial, cutting back hedges to open up views, replanting two flower beds near the entrance and adding seven new roses. More improvements will be taking place later this year and into 2022, with a focus on keeping it inclusive of people with physical and mental disabilities, which was its aim when created 30 years ago.

Delivering the improvements to Park House Sensory Garden is being carried out by a ‘Sense the Change’ group led by the Friends of Horsham Park in partnership with Horsham District Council’s Parks and Countryside Team.  The group includes Mark Baldwin (the professional gardener who has been restoring the central beds over the last two years), Horsham Denne Neighbourhood Council and the Horsham Society. They have consulted with local groups including The Alzheimer’s Society, Horsham Rusty Brains, Age UK, Phoenix Stroke Club, Horsham Parkinson’s group, Horsham Older People’s Forum, Strawford Centre, Springboard and Butterfly Project, to make sure the garden meets their additional needs.

The Friends have secured grants over £12,000 to fund the improvements, including £5,000 from RSA, which has been used for the sundial repairs. RSA (then Sun Alliance) contributed significantly to the creation of the Park House Sensory Garden in 1991. Other donors for future improvements include Climate Change Fund for a drought-resistant bed, Sussex Community Foundation for a curved bench and Sussex Gardens Trust for a winter interest bed.

Sally Sanderson, Chair of Friends of Horsham Park, said: “It was wonderful to welcome visitors into Park House Sensory Garden and show the improvements that have been made so far – though it is still work in progress and we’re all looking forward to seeing the rest of the project plans come to fruition.”

Alison Farrell, who has led the fund raising, said: “The Park has been a lifeline for so many people over the last year of lockdowns, and the sensory garden has been particularly welcomed as a sanctuary where you can sit and enjoy the beautiful flower beds, fragrant plants and wildlife. It has served Horsham well for 30 years and we hope that once the restoration is complete, it will continue to be enjoyed for many more years as a lovely, accessible and inclusive space for all.”

The Friends of Horsham Park aims to protect, enhance and promote our Park as a place of recreation and enjoyment for the long-term benefit of everyone. Anyone with an interest in the Park is welcome to join the Friends and get involved in their activities, which include a weekly gardening session. For more information, contact chair@friendsofhorshampark.co.uk