Alzheimer's Australia NSW dementia-friendly garden opens at Port Macquarie

People living with dementia and their loved ones can access a garden oasis filled with colour, scents, sounds and textures.

The dementia-friendly garden, which is the first of its kind in Australia, was officially opened on August 7.

Bubbling water, a texture wall, gathering space and a pick and sniff plant area with fragrant plants form part of the innovative dementia-friendly garden at the Alzheimer’s Australia NSW Port Macquarie site at Bridge Street.

Alzheimer's Australia NSW chief executive officer John Watkins thanked the Port Macquarie community for its great work over the years in supporting people with dementia.

“It’s worth noting that Port Macquarie has led the way and it’s leading Australia in being a dementia-friendly community,” he said.

Mr Watkins, who officially opened the garden, said the outdoor space allowed people with dementia to enjoy the benefits on a number of levels, while feeling safe and included.

“It’s beautiful today and it will become more beautiful as time passes when it will change,” he said.

The garden has been developed as a multi-purpose, therapeutic space that will stimulate and calm the senses.

The garden’s development drew on best-practice guidelines and research from around the world, along with feedback garnered through consultation with consumers and health professionals.

Alzheimer’s Australia NSW project manager Eleanor Dennis said the garden was restful and beautiful, and had huge potential.

“The experience of working with the Port Macquarie community has been phenomenal – just the compassion, care and commitment to support people with dementia and ageing in general, and their excitement about this project,” Ms Dennis said.

The garden was funded through the Port Macquarie Memory Walk & Jog, the ClubGRANTS scheme and public donations.

Alzheimer’s Australia NSW volunteer Philippa Reiss said the garden would become her oasis.

“This beautiful garden is a design similar to one that has been in my heart for many years - winding paths, interesting nooks and crannies, water features and areas to sit and relax,” she said.

“My mother, who died from dementia several years ago, gave me a love for gardens and I thank her today, and I know that she would have thought that this garden was very special.”

Ms Reiss said the garden would become an avenue for the senses.

“This oasis is located within the local community and we will feel part of this community,” she said.

Landscape architecture firm Sym Studio and contractors BNJ Landscaping also worked on the project.