Peace Children's Centre sensory garden - a playful space for everyone

Posted: June 8 2022

Peace Children's Centre sensory garden - a playful space for everyone

Blue panels inspired by 'Blue Sticks Garden'

Thanks to the ingenuity of Alan Gardner (Chanel 4’s Autistic Gardener) an ugly piece of tarmac has been transformed into a ‘playful’ place to sit and be calm.

Hard landscaping and planting for the sensory garden at the Peace Children’s Centre in Watford were recently completed. However, like most good things it will take time to mature and turn into the peaceful haven envisaged by Alan – who designed the space during COVID lockdown.

Alan explained: “The garden features a series of two metre high posts with red panels that lead you into the space – once inside the view changes to blue panels.” Alan was inspired to use the panels by Claude Cormier’s Blue Stick Garden saying he likes to mix hard materials like steel and wood with bright blocks of colour. Alan’s success seems to come from his positive attitude to life and approach to autism as a gift – using what others may see as a disadvantage to help him design innovative spaces. “I can see and walk around 3D spaces in my head – I’m very spatially aware” he adds.

As a popular and ‘in demand’ designer Alan can be more choosey about which projects he takes on these days, so why did he accept this one? “I nearly didn’t” he confesses “It was doomed for failure. It had to please a lot of people [most of his work involves designing private gardens with just one or two customers to please]. But it turned out to be one of my most successful.”

“This garden is not a play space just for children – but a playful space for everyone” says Alan. Only time will tell if Alan has worked his green fingered magic on this outdoor space. When hopefully the shrubs will have bloomed, and people will be soothed by this tiny oasis set in tarmac.

You can see the completed hard landscaping and shrub planting in this video – including the red panels and blue panels, use of steel and block colours.

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