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13 June 2018

Former Horticulture student showcases beautiful border raising awareness about dementia at Gardeners’ World Live

A former horticulture student will raise awareness of how gardening can help people living with dementia, when her winning design goes on show at Gardeners’ World Live.

Katherine Hathaway has put the final touches to her garden entitled Fascinating Haunts, which features in the Beautiful Borders competition and has been designed in aid of and in collaboration with the Sensory Trust.

The four-day show, which takes place at the NEC in Birmingham, starting tomorrow, attracts around 100,000 visitors including green-fingered staff and students from Wiltshire College who are going.

Katherine said: “I’ve been at the show since the weekend setting up.

“My border has come together very well and looks just like my design so I’m very pleased.

“It’s really hard work planting a show border but there is a tremendous sense of achievement completing it and I’m very excited to be here.

“All the borders are so different and the standard is very high.

“Almost all the plants I grew at Lackham have made it into the border and I have already had compliments about the colours.”

Katherine was inspired to apply for Gardeners World after visiting the event last summer when she was studying the RHS Level 2 Practical Horticulture course at the Lackham campus.

She said: “I wouldn't be doing this now if it hadn’t been for the practical training I did at  College and I wouldn’t have had the confidence to believe I could do it.

“I had been learning about garden design elsewhere but wanted the practical element to understand how plants grow, how to cultivate and be in a position to advise others.

“At Lackham I learned why plants thrive and why they don’t and I developed a love of trees that I never had before. Studying them gave me a passion for how things grow.

“There is nothing more exciting than planting something and seeing the result, it’s very rewarding.”

Shortly after completing the course, Katherine who now runs her own garden design business, took her elderly mother a large bunch of sweet peas.

She said: “Leaving her alone whilst I ran some errands, I came back to find the sweet peas had migrated from the window sill to the table and she was sitting, radio on, with a slight smile on her face.

“It was a reminder of the power of nature to transport, prompting memories of people and places.

“Inspired by this, I wanted to design not just a ‘beautiful border’ but a border with a purpose.”

More than 850,000 people are currently diagnosed with dementia, which causes memory loss, confusion and problems with speech and understanding.

Katherine said: “Through smell, taste and touch, old memories can be reignited and, as trips out become more challenging, the tiniest patch of garden can take on a whole new purpose.

“My ‘nostalgic garden aims to provide people living with dementia the opportunity to sow some favourite seeds and start a conversation around long remembered scents such as Sweet Peas, Lemon Balm and Lavender or the pop of a pea pod and the sweet taste of something that never made it as far as the kitchen.”

Some of Katherine’s plants, which she grew at Lackham, will be on sale towards the end of the show and will be donated to the Sensory Trust, a charity which uses nature and the outdoors to improve the health and wellbeing of people living with disability and health issues, their families and carers.