Burton Street’s sensory garden is a wonderfully tranquil space, over the years it has provided sensory experiences for Burton Street clients and a calm place for anyone on site to simply enjoy.
For the past year Scott Allbright has been working tirelessly, through wind and rain, sun and snow (well not too much snow, let’s be honest) to renovate the garden and make major improvements and the fruition of his work is clear, as is his well-deserved pride.
From the moment you walk up to the sensory garden you are met by a large, colourfully stained glass gate. Intricately designed and depicting different elements in each corner of its main frame, then above it all, arching over is a beautiful rainbow with the word ‘welcome’ across it.
The light from this permanent rainbow breaks off and creates a brilliant effect all across the sensory garden floor, illuminating it in beautiful and unusual ways. Before you step through the gates, take a moment to appreciate the light refracting from the glass and the gentle breeze that comes through the arch and all the smells of the herbs and flowers that come with it.
Scott takes us through the garden enthusiastically pointing out cymbals that represent toadstools, as well as the old piano taken apart and converted to a harp. Looking around you can see detail has been poured into every inch of the space. Scott’s favourite aspect is that there’s so much to explore ‘from little carvings of woodland creatures to a wishing well’.
Ambitious to keep adding more features to the garden Scott sees potential everywhere, such as a pebble path to massage clients feet, an extension of the water feature and a sun dial to be mounted on one of the historical stone walls. You can tell that when Scott says he wants to do something, that he will do it. This was strikingly clear when asked about the most challenging part of the renovation and Scott simply smiled and replied “nothing is overly challenging”.
Even more aspirational is Scott’s determination to secure funding for an Inclusive Roundabout, giving wheelchair users the opportunity to experience a full 360 degree spin! Speaking of spinning, one of the unmissable elements of the garden is a huge mounted disco ball, attached by two lazy Susan’s which allow it to be tuned and spun. Frequent visitors to Burton Street might recognise this ball from various points around the site, such as behind the bike sheds. The ball was originally discovered by Andy Beeston, a senior manager of Burton Street, who after a night out found the ball (presumably on the floor, not mounted to the roof) and thought it would make a brilliant addition to Burton Street, and it has. It just took a while to find its place. It now stands at the back of the garden as a massive interactive feature which visitors can spin around and watch the reflection bounce off the old stone walls.
The completion of the garden has been a long time coming and of course, as any true Burton Streeter, Scott is still eager to do more. But the installing of the gates are a significant indicator that the finishing line has been reached for now and the sensory garden is open to all- and the timing couldn’t be better (I’m writing this on a sunny day so am feeling very summer positive).
If you get a chance, take a moment out of your day, grab a drink or lunch from the café and come sit in a little sun spot in the garden. Admire the gate which is dedicated to the previous Senior Learning Disability Manager Glyn Mansell, walk through the walkway which is covered in hanging plants and chill out next to the gentle water feature. As it says on the gate, you’re welcome.