The best accessible gardens in Dorset

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Employ My Ability offers vocational training for young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Maddie Walters worked on her journalism with the aim of writing a column for us – Ed

This month Maddie is looking at local disability-friendly gardens to visit over the summer, and also at ways you might get involved

It’s summer at last – I hope everyone is enjoying the warm and sunny days! For this month’s article I’ve been thinking about my favourite gardens to visit at this time of year and whether they are disability-friendly. I have also looked at volunteering information for those who might be interested.
There are lots of beautiful gardens that all, including disabled people, can enjoy in the summer. It’s really important for your physical and mental health to enjoy the beautiful nature all around you. The National Gardens Scheme (NGS), which give visitors unique access to over 3,500 private gardens, has a very good article about this, written by a neuroscientist.

Kingston Lacy (shutterstock)

Moors Valley
Moors Valley is a fantastic place to visit, with many activities that young kids can enjoy enjoy like cycling, fishing, and even seeing the Gruffalo. There are many accessible walks and paths and a really good visitor centre to help.

Kingston Lacy
Kingston Lacy is another fantastic place to visit – the grounds of the house are stunning, I love the beautiful Japanese garden. The house is great to visit too. The Companion Card from the National Trust is accepted, so up to two carers can come with you for free.

Sherborne Castle
Vistors can enjoy both the castle itself and the gardens. Though the upstairs exhibits aren’t accessible, there is a slide show on the ground floor to see them that way.

Gardens at Larmer Tree
The Larmer Tree gardens are a wonderful place to visit in the summertime – book your tickets via the visual calendar on the website. They are very accessible and have a wheelchair on site available to use.

More information
You can get an access guide for National Trust and English Heritage sites.
I also recommend you check the volunteer pages on the National Trust or English Heritage websites, to find out wha’s available. Options include working at the till, making bookings or giving a tour with knowledge about the history of English gardens.
Another excellent place to look at for more volunteering options is the NGS site. Although NGS events are held in private gardens, there is a need for some specific help. And mark your calendar for Gardens & Health Week in May 2024!

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