Princess Anne talking to Mark Lane about garden designs
Weeks of preparations involving staff, client gardener’s and volunteers certainly paid off and was much admired by Princess Anne during her tour of the Sense gardens in Birmingham.

The hard work, building and planting the garden, creating a pollinator planter, a bug hotel, movable raised beds and a garden room study area was undertaken in just one week-end after months of planning.

In the end, the midsummer event, at the Touchbase Pears Centre in Selly Oak, could not have looked more perfect; the backdrop of gardens in full bloom with bees buzzing round the pollinating flowers, ripe strawberries in the Thrive planters and lights strung round the decking areas lit by the low evening sun created a dream-like quality.

Thrive ambassador, TV presenter and garden designer, Mark Lane, shared his plans for the new sensory garden with the Princess and talked her through his thoughtful ideas, which incorporate areas for clients, community groups and college students. Mark is passionate about good garden design that is accessible for all and said he thoroughly enjoyed explaining how the areas worked together to create lots of socialising spaces.

Regional Development Manager, Sarah Bowers, said the Princess was very interested in Thrive’s work, “She was incredibly warm and engaging, we had quite a long conversation about the benefits of Social Therapy Horticulture and how gardening is used to positively change peoples’ lives. She asked lots of questions about the work the clients had been doing and was particularly impressed with the nasturtiums they’d planted in the containers, which looked amazing. It was an honour and pleasure to meet her.”

Thrive staff preparing raised borders for royal visit
Thrive staff preparing raised borders for royal visit

Local dignitaries including the Lord Mayor, Councillor Maureen Cornish also attended the event and was interested in finding out more about the work Thrive does with children who have special educational needs and disabilities. She was joined by members of the Sweeny family, whose Trust supports young people through programmes that provide learning, education and a better quality of life.

Princess Anne is Patron of the charity, Sense, which helps people with complex disabilities to experience the world and fulfil their potential. Thrive’s clients use the centre as part of their horticultural programmes. The event was held to celebrate the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2022 which starts on 28th July and according to Sense, will be the most inclusive in its history.

New STH programme starts for complex disabilities

Thrive is delivering a new therapeutic horticulture programme to help deafblind people and others with complex disabilities in Birmingham.

Find out more

You can change lives with gardening

Dean in allotment