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Support worker at Learning Disabilities Centre needs help!

pjcraypjcray Posts: 3
edited April 2022 in Plants
I work at a day centre for adults with severe learning disabilities, and we have a very small outdoor area with limited sunshine. There is a small budget for gardening, and next week I am hoping to go to a garden centre with a couple of our clients to choose some plants to grow. We were thinking maybe sunflowers, runner beans, perennials?? But I think they'll need lots of sunshine and watering (the centre is closed over the weekend) so not sure??
We've only got pots/troughs to plant in, so any advice would be appreciated!
Many thanks


  • robairdmacraignilrobairdmacraignil CorkPosts: 669
    Leaf crops like lettuce can yield OK in shade particularly when compared with things like sunflower and beans that need enough light to flower and make seed. Not sure what you mean by perennials but there are some perennial plants that do quite well in shade.

    Happy gardening!
  • Jenny_AsterJenny_Aster In the Cambs FensPosts: 527
    Hi Paula, what a great idea. If possible, sowing seeds maybe the most interesting, from a tiny little seed great plants can grow. The quickest veg from seed to plant is the radish, your clients would quickly be able to taste their efforts.

    Don't know where you are based, but if you're in Yorkshire perhaps you could visit Horticap:

    It maybe a good idea to contact them for advice, as they might have schemes or even speakers that could visit and help you.

    Good luck!
    Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 
  • pjcraypjcray Posts: 3
    edited April 2022
    Yes that's a good idea, I'm based in Brighton so will contact a few local groups for advice, would be great to get someone in the flesh! 
  • DaveGreigDaveGreig West Fife, ScotlandPosts: 56
    Hi Paula: Sage is a herb that does ok in the shade and doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. It also has aromatic foliage so can have sensory benefits if helping people interact with their environment. Some of the smaller hydrangea paniculata will live happily in a large pot for a number of years but you must keep them watered. You can underplant with iris reticulata and anemone Blanda for added interest. It’s difficult to advise without more detail but there’s a lot of advice about what to plant in all situations online. 

    The most difficult part given the constraints on your time will be maintenance so I would suggest you set it up to be as low maintenance as possible. If your growing in containers then ensure you have mains water close by so you can use a hose for watering. Moving in and out of the building with watering cans is a tiring/time consuming health and safety hazard and will quickly get ‘old’. It will also mean the plants won’t get enough water so a convenient water source is a necessity.

    Horticulture is a good medium to help vulnerable people to interact with there environment and it’s great that you want to put in the effort to give them the opportunity. Good luck.
  • nick615nick615 SW IrelandPosts: 1,247
    pjcray   Maybe a clients trip up to somewhere like Ditchling Garden Centre - let them know you're coming? - could provide a new experience for them.  Someone from the Centre could then advise what and how to plant, and perhaps donate a few that will show results quickly to maintain interest.
  • Silver surferSilver surfer Posts: 4,148
    The problem is the weekends when no one is there to water the plants.

    Local schools were all encouraged by the RHS to start gardens...maybe your local school can advise you as to what worked for them...they know your weather, your problems re watering on weekends and must have learn masses while doing it.

    Perthshire. SCOTLAND .
  • puschkiniapuschkinia BrightonPosts: 200
    edited April 2022
    Hi Paula, lovely idea! I'm in Brighton too and these guys are local & do a great online gardening course. Maybe they'd be able to help you out:

    I've also contacted these people before and they're lovely. Their plants are very reasonably priced and they also do individualised workshops - perhaps they can give you some tips on what to grow
  • pjcraypjcray Posts: 3
    Thanks for the advice, everyone. We took a few of our customers to Dobbies garden centre as we had a gift card for there, and they were really helpful (thanks, Andrea and colleagues!) in recommending plants.
     We're doing a sensory garden with smelly stuff (one trough with sage, rosemary, golden thyme and lavender) with a separate pot of mint, and one trough with visual plants, geraniums, aquilegia and salvia. We also bought a hydrangea which will hopefully grow in a shady area. 
    And we're having a sunflower competition! If the seeds don't come up we might need to cheat a bit though...
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