Council chairman declares unique new sensory garden open

Exmouth's new sensory garden

Exmouth's new sensory garden - Credit: Marion Drew

A remarkable ‘sensory garden’, that will not only help physically and mentally vulnerable people but also Exmouth residents and visitors alike, has officially been opened.
The special area, in the sunken seafront gardens next to the Pavilion,  was opened on Monday, 12 July  at 2.30pm by the chairman of Devon County Council and county councillor for Exmouth, Jeff Trail. 
It comes after two years of hard work, as part of a project led by Exmouth in Bloom and Exmouth Art Group.
The concept for the new garden was conceived by Gillie Newcombe, president of Exmouth Art Group, and developed with the expertise of Graham Bell, Horticultural Advisor on the committee of Exmouth in Bloom.
It was felt that there were no suitable outdoor spaces for older people and those with mental or physical health difficulties to visit and relax in. 
Following approval by each committee, they worked with East Devon District Council and Exmouth Town Council, to identify the ideal piece of land to develop.
The garden was brought to life with the help of wonderful volunteers from Exmouth in Bloom, as well as others who came along to assist. 
Inside the new garden, people will be delighted to see a brightly coloured and detailed mural wall featuring a range of animals and plants. 
There are benches for people to sit and contemplate their surroundings, enjoy the scents and colours around them, and feel the various textures of the plants, in some cases even tasting them, with herbs such as bay trees being featured. 
The long-term vision for the garden is that it will continue to develop, being maintained by the groups and the community, maturing within the landscape, becoming a place to meet up with friends, be a destination for calming thoughts and mindfulness, and sociable space for those who may experience loneliness. 
Graham said: "This area is accessible to everyone at all times of the day and looks out over the beach and views beyond.  It will keep on getting better and better."
The project has received the support of multiple organisations including East Devon District Council, Exmouth Chamber of Commerce, Exmouth Town Council, local businesses, and the community.
Many businesses across Exmouth, including the Sun Lodge, Jewsons, Kings Garden Centre, Urban Earth and Friends groups, have been generous in donating materials or providing extra discounts and advice.  Donations of time, skills, plants and funding have been gratefully received from members of the two groups and the local community.  Special thanks go to Mike Hole for his excellent carpentry work.
Gillie, who has a background in Health and Social Care, has been overwhelmed with the amount of support from across the town.
Gillie said: "There have been donations of all types, from small bedding plants all the way through to mature trees and shrubs which can be over £200 each."
She added that some people are already using the garden to take a moment to pause. 
Gillie said: "After what has been an awful 18 months for everyone, the sensory garden comes at a time when so many people will appreciate it.
"We are also celebrating Exmouth Art Group’s 75th anniversary and Exmouth in Bloom’s 50th anniversary this year, so we are immensely proud to be able to finally unveil the results of another successful project together."
Nick Christo, EDDC’s StreetScene Operations Manager, said: "EDDC are delighted to see the completion of this community-led project in one of the spaces that it currently manages along Exmouth Seafront. 
"We would like to thank Exmouth Art Group and Exmouth in Bloom for coming to us with their proposal for the creation of the sensory garden which is an excellent idea and something that the whole community can use, and working together with StreetScene the space can continue to be looked after and developed further."
Among those attending the opening will be members of Exmouth in Bloom and Exmouth Art Group, volunteers, and people from the local community including those with sensory difficulties and physical disabilities.
For more details on the project please visit http://www.exmouthartgroup.org.uk/

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