This week's Horticulture Week podcast guest, garden designer Camellia Taylor came to the discipline via work with young people on the autism spectrum, women that had experienced domestic violence and a Masters in speech and language therapy.
During a career break prompted by the birth of her two children she began to connect her interest in psychology with nature and a passion for plants. She went on to study for her RHS Level 2 and a garden design qualification at Hadlow College after which she set her own design studio in Kent.
She cemented the integration of nature and psychology with an Eco-sensory course and it is central to the way she works with clients on her garden designs. This includes close attention to the needs, sometimes conflicting, of the users of the garden, catering to the different senses and the many qualities of plants.
Taylor is currently working on a sensory garden for charity Aspens which provides residential living for people on the autism spectrum and learning disabilities as well as day facilities. She talks about how her association with Aspens came about and how a proposal from Project Giving Back led her to become the designer of The Natural Affinity Garden - set to be showcased at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this May.
She says: "I think Project Giving Back is incredible; it's such a great opportunity. It shines a light on charities that otherwise wouldn't be there... it gives designers a chance to be at this incredible show... they link the designer and the charity together so beautifully."
Using a muted colour palette provides a calming environment for those on the autistic spectrum, Taylor explains. But the stimulation can be found by actively engaging with the planting through taste, hearing and the garden's tactile qualities.
Taylor is collaborating with contractor The Outdoor Room, growers Plantbase and How Green Nursery with stone from Gallaghers quarry.
Presenter: HortWeek senior reporter Rachael Forsyth
Producer: HortWeek digital content manager Christina Taylor
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