Adaptive Gardening by Pam – what it means to you.

Hello, my name is Pam, I am an organic gardener of some 18 years. What happened to me has probably happened to you. Arthritis. When diagnosed with osteoarthritis in 2007, I thought my gardening days were over. However, with information, advice, encouragement and my own determination, this is not the case. You can do the same. Can’t you? There is always a way to “keep on gardening”. Examples of adaptive gardening methods can be found on websites such as Thrive and Trellis. They are there to help. Use them.

Getting Started 

Picture of Pam's website

Pam’s garden.

I am not going to tell you how to garden, or when to sow and grow. There are books and websites galore out there – go look!

Even sowing one seed in a little pot is gardening – watching that little seed peep through and grow into a plant gives a sense of achievement.

Sow a lettuce, then you can show off with home-grown salads. Sow a flower, show off some colour.

Adaptive Methods and ToolsPicture of an adaptive hand trowel

What you see here are some of the methods you can use. Adaptive tools which are available from P.E.T.A. and can give you the “reach” and flexibility to garden safely without bending. Raised beds are available from various suppliers – if you are unable to build them yourself, ready-made beds are available according to Thrive. Check it out.

Therapeutic Value

“To plant and nurture a garden is to believe in tomorrow” – a true quote. Gardening is therapeutic in many ways: the exercise is gentle and brings so many rewards – while working with your plants, you can “switch off” from the day-to-day cares. It’s not all work, of course. Just sitting admiring your efforts and enjoying the colours and scents is a healing process on its own. So sow a seed (or several), nurture the plants and enjoy. There is no “buzz” quite like it! – Pam.

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Gardening Support Organisations

If you’re interested in getting out into the garden but unsure where to start. There are some fantastic sources of support. Both online and offline.

Below are a range of organisations and services that might be helpful.

Garden Aid is offered by some councils for disabled or elderly council tenants, or any resident meeting qualifying criteria. Additionally, many local community projects provide gardening support services to those who feel unable to manage with their garden themselves.

Edinburgh Garden Partners key service is garden sharing, where they match people who want to garden with people who have space to share. They have recently began piloting a project to tidy up and redesign 16 gardens for older people,  disabled people and carers.

Adopt a Garden based in Aberdeen is another similar community gardening project.

Garden Angels is a West Lothian based project.

Gardening For Disabled Trust gives grants to people in order that they may continue to garden despite disability or advancing illness. Additionally, they provide various other services:

  • Adapting private gardens to meet the special needs of the disabled gardener.
  • Making grants towards tools, raised beds, paving, wheelchair access and greenhouses for disabled gardeners.
  • Providing help with special gardens in hospitals, centres and schools.
  • Distributing information on garden aids and techniques.
  • Providing a forum for disabled gardeners by publishing the Garden Club’s magazine.

Assist UK
Disabled Living Centres throughout the UK provide opportunities to see and try products and equipment as well as offering professional advice on the most suitable items. Search our Scottish Disability Directory to find your local Disabled Living Centre.

Peta (UK) Ltd supply adapted tools, aids and assistive devices, for people with arthritis or reduced gripping strength.

InstaPlant sell adapted planters and tools on their website.

The Disabled Living Foundation have developed an informative guide on gardening with a disability.

FredShed is a website on wheelchair gardening. Run by Fred it provides a fantastic range of information, support and advice to disabled people who wish to continue gardening.

Trellis Scotland provide a range of services to support therapeutic gardening within Scotland. They run training workshops and an information service. They support research and development in therapeutic gardening.

If you have any gardening tips or experiences you’d like to share with others, please feel free to leave a comment. If you’d like more information on any of the organisations listed in the blog, please do call our helpline on 0300 323 9961.