Wheelchair Garden Walks © Nyman's Garden, West Sussex
|The fountain and topiary in the Walled Garden, viewed from a distance|
At the risk of being politically incorrect, I'm starting a new Galloping Gardener © section today, where I'll feature gardens that are wheelchair friendly! Since starting this blog nearly two years ago, I've visited well over 200 gardens, but never given a second thought to what it must be like to visit if you're not able to walk around them. My husband also loves to visit gardens and has been a long-suffering passenger on many of my garden forays, but because of a debilitating illness, he is now using a wheel chair for longer distances. Suffice to say that with me learning to push him, it's put a whole new aspect on garden visits!
|My long-suffering husband|
Our first visit was to somewhere local - Nyman's Garden - which is just a short drive up the A23 from our home. We've been there many times before and knew there'd be plenty in bloom at this time of year, but we've never tried to navigate the grounds in a wheelchair, and with me as a novice driver, this promised to be quite a challenge!
All started well and I loaded the wheelchair into my car, thinking that this would be a simple task. I thought of Nyman's as completely flat and couldn't imagine that any parts of the garden would be inaccessible. But on arrival, the first problem was getting the wheelchair out of the car. Somehow, it had locked itself solid into the back and if it hadn't been for help from some passing visitors who saw my predicament, we might well still be struggling!
The next potential obstacle was getting my husband through the garden entrance - at Nyman's it's a charming, rustic hut, with double doors. Normally you open only one door, but with a wheelchair, you need both. But again help was at hand and an onlooker ran to unbolt the second door.
Nyman's has several remarkable features including the walled garden, with its wonderful borders; the Pinetum; the rose garden, which is just coming into full bloom; and the croquet lawn garden, with its wonderful pergola. There is also a wild garden and a rock garden. All except the Pinetum, the wild garden and rock garden are accessible by wheelchair, even if it is hard work pushing over the gravel pathways. It would also help if the wheelchair routes were clearly signposted! We took several wrong routes and had to backtrack when we encountered steps.
|Nyman's magnificent wisteria-clad pergola in full bloom|
The pergola is exceptional at this time of year, with the wisteria in full bloom, and visiting today made me realise that I'd overlooked it in my Perfect Pergolas feature, which many of you have visited. We particularly appreciated the monthly "Plants of Interest" information sheet we were given on arrival, which included a map of where the flowering plants were in the garden.
|The rose-covered dovecote viewed through immaculately clipped hedges|
But what really amazed me about our visit, was the number of people who offered to help, especially when I found I'd taken the wrong route or found myself confronted by steps or an incline. You'd be amazed how even the slightest incline poses a challenge when pushing a wheelchair! But these are all the aspects of garden visiting I'm going to feature on a regular basis in future. We loved our day out and the verdict was: A great garden for wheelchair users; plenty to see and most areas accessible!