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The inspiration behind Hugh Green dementia-friendly garden

We talk with the Landscape Designer and Development Manager about the dementia-friendly garden recently established at Hugh Green Care Home in Albany

Many of us love gardens but who knew a garden could be designed to be dementia-friendly and evoke inspiration and stimulate curiosity.

When asked how these gardens differ to others built in the past, Peter Kerrigan, the Development Manager who helped set the brief for this garden, says, ‘We tried to use forms that were unusual and fun. This is a new and different idea and with dementia, some things, unfortunately, can be trial and error because everyone is different.’ 

Peter goes on to add, ‘We previously put in a bus stop thinking that would work, but then the bus never came, so that caused problems. Features that have worked well include letterboxes where residents can post letters into the box and take letters out of the box. A clothesline is another good example.’ 

The Bupa Hugh Green Shannon Garden is not only the first dementia-friendly garden that Peter Kerrigan has worked on, but a garden designed specifically for dementia residents and is a first for Bupa New Zealand. 

There’s something in the way the space has been designed at Hugh Green gardens that seems to evoke curiosity, inspiration and calmness. 

Discussions with Beth McDougall the Dementia Care Advisor for Bupa New Zealand were taken on board for this project and helped set the brief. 

‘My inspiration for this garden came from the brief. Several items were pointed out by Beth,’ says Robert from Luijten Landscaping. 

‘Keep it open, as in no dead end, hence we have the eight shape meandering path that invites you to keep exploring. Interest in the area was created with large pots and planters of different heights, textures and colours grouped together. Oh, and no hills – keep everything at one level, was the plan,’ Roberts says. ‘So the path and patio areas had to be level so it wouldn’t create a trip hazard for the residents.’ 

The height of plants was taken into account during planning as this then makes it accessible for residents who may find it difficult to bend down when admiring aspects of the garden. The Hugh Green garden is an example of how several non-matching items can be placed to create a sense of balance and style. 

The garden design is very people focussed. Specific materials that were non-slip, matt and waterproof have been used to help prevent people from slipping. UV treated umbrellas offer shade from the sun and shelter from the rain. 

Making it available all hours is another feature that makes this garden unique. It lights up at night and makes it accessible to those residents wanting to enjoy the garden on a warm night. 

The large white ceramic-looking pots were sourced from an Italian manufacturer and were chosen for their light-weight structure. ‘Weight was something we had to really take into account as this garden sits on the level above the car park. This takes on challenges from a construction point of view,’ says Robert. 

‘Being a courtyard meant that everything – all the soil, plants and other large items had to be delivered by crane over the building during construction. It was an interesting space to work in,’ laughs Robert. 

The Bupa Hugh Green Shannon Garden is the flagship for Bupa New Zealand. 

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