Horticulture students answer SOS call by creating DIY garden

A group of kind hearted students created a DIY SOS style garden for a couple in Felixstowe.

Suffolk New College
Suffolk New College

The learners are all studying horticulture at Suffolk Rural (formerly Otley College in Suffolk) and they helped create an accessible area for 64 year old Adrian Waterhouse-Taylor and his wife Louise.

The link-up was led by students Zibby Parker and Nicky O’Brien (who also both live in Felixstowe).

As part of their RHS level two course, they are encouraged to work and gain experience on community projects.

So Zibby explained to her class that she wanted to do something nice for one of her friends who had recently lost the use of his legs, after health issues affecting his back took hold in December 2020.

All of the class agreed to help out. A design was created. Plants were sourced. And the group went across to Adrian’s house on 28 April 2022 to complete the makeover.

Adrian said: “I lost my foot four years ago and then I had a bad back in 2020. After collapsing at home I spent four months in hospital and lost the use of my legs after being diagnosed with an abscess on my spine. I was unlucky. It was one of those things.

“I’ve known Zibby for 25 years and she said ‘would you mind if I use your garden as my coursework’. Then she asked if the whole of her class could look at it. And things escalated.

“Zibby, her colleague Nicky and the class have spent lots of time taking photos, designing the garden and making it accessible.

“When in hospital, I met a man who inspired me. He was in a similar situation to me and he said I don’t want to be known as the bloke in the wheelchair. I want to live a normal life, I want to go to the pub every Friday and that’s how I feel. As part of that, I want the garden to have a similar feel to the rest of the house that allows me to carry on as before, as much as possible.

“I funded it, but the College provided the people power, the labouring, the expertise and the creativity, creating everything apart from the landscaping. m/f

“We now have a knockout garden in our forever home. I’m delighted. My wife and I are incredibly grateful to the Suffolk Rural team for their amazing efforts.”

Zibby Parker said: “Adrian’s wife (Louise) and I have been friends since we were five. Adrian has been through an awful lot in the last couple of years. I went to College and explained his situation and everyone on the course bought into it. They all wanted to help and that’s how this all came about.

“It’s been a collaboration between myself, Nicky, our tutor Neville, my classmates and Adrian. I believe getting out in to the garden is everything.”

Co-designer is Nicky O’Brien said: “We created a lawn, a gravel and winter garden, a vegetable bed and an herbaceous border. It’s been a great project and everyone was really thrilled to be involved.

“Adrian and his wife are a lovely couple - so it’s nice to be able to support them.”

Neville Stein, horticulture lecturer at Suffolk Rural,  said: “It’s been a real pleasure to be able to support Adrian and Louise via this project. The way Zibby, Nicky and the rest of the class embraced the work was amazing. I’m very proud of them.”

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