Taoiseach Micheál Martin has officially opened a new sensory garden at the Cope Foundation in Montenotte in Cork in what is a collaboration between the charity and Trigon Hotels.
Volunteers from both organisations have transformed a patch of unused ground next to Beech Hill Garden Centre into a space filled with different textures, scents, and sounds.
The garden is wheelchair accessible and has raised beds filled with plants to stimulate the senses, with colourful foliage planted throughout, a water feature, wall feature, and artwork.
Team members from Trigon Hotels raised €11,000 for its charity partners Cope Foundation and Ability@Work the last year, with the funds being used on the sensory garden.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that it is wonderful to see the organisations working together to “make a real difference”.
“The sensory garden is a great initiative, and an oasis of calm I know will be used by many of the people supported by Cope Foundation,” he said.
“The garden forms just one element of Trigon Hotels’ partnership with Cope Foundation and Ability@Work. They also provide employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities and autism, which is so important.”
Trigon Hotels’ Kathleen Linehan said that it is “amazing” to see months of hard work on the sensory garden come to fruition.
Horticulture is a popular subject at Cope Foundation’s Bonnington Training Centre, and 36 students from the centre have been involved in the planning and development of the garden.
A polytunnel and two large vegetable beds also form part of the garden, with potatoes, broad beans, peas, onions, cabbage, and broccoli among the vegetables being grown, with students also growing salad leaves and seasonal organic produce for Trigon Hotels.
Cope Foundation chief executive Sean Abbott said that the garden is “a fantastic addition” to the organisation and said it is not only a new learning environment for students, but a “safe space” where the people the organisation supports, staff, and members of the public can be part of nature and away from noise and traffic.