Once an unloved green space, an area of Magherafelt housing estate has now been transformed into a garden of serenity and calmness.
A new therapeutic garden at 14 Sandygrove Sandybraes, Magherafelt,was officially opened on Friday by members of the Mid-Ulster Housing Executive and mental health charity Praxis Care. There were plenty of people in attendance as well who came along to relax and enjoy the fair weather in the garden.
The garden is a result of a £15,000 investment from the Housing Executive, who have been working in partnership with Praxis Care in the area for a number of years. The biggest charity of its kind in Northern Ireland, Praxis provides services for people affected by mental health, dementia, learning disability, agoraphobia and anxiety.
The garden was a disused area of overgrown grass until complementary therapy practitioner John Hagan proposed to create a therapy garden to encourage recovery for the mentally ill. Praxis worked side by side with the Housing Executive, and after many hours of consultation and planning , the ground was cleared and raised beds for growing vegetables and flowers were installed to create an garden with a therapeutic element.
“It’s called a therapy garden, but I’m calling it a garden of hope, hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.When the place starts to bloom, I hope it will work wonders for those who want to calm their mind and solace” said Mr Hagan.
“I practice aromatherapy, and I’m aware of the power of the the scents of plants, especially lavender. It’s great for calming and stilling the mend. Someone with mental health issues will benefit greatly from the garden. Cookery classes as well is just another one of the positive thing coming from the project. The ultimate aim though is aiding recovery and achieving solace.”
Housing Executive manager for Mid Ulster Michael Dallat commented that transformation of the garden also symbolises the change the Housing executive has undergone in recent months. “When I came into the garden this morning to have a look around, I got a sense there is something different about it.”
“This type of project is out in the community, and to able to work with the likes of Praxis, Beacon and Mindwise is marvellous.” concluded Mr Dallat.