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The Secret Garden is back!

Our famous Secret Garden project is back! Thanks to the funding awarded by WCVA’s Volunteering Wales Grant, we are working closely with St Fagans History Museum and the Glamorgan Archives to begin co-producing the next phase of The Secret Garden project with participants to incorporate both gardening and research of Ysgubor Fawr at St Fagans.

We are back!

Our participants are eager to get involved in making this garden beautiful once again. After gathering much interest, we provided two sign-up sessions for potential participants to visit the garden and learn more about the volunteering opportunities available here.

We have since signed up over ten regular participants, with more to come! We are aiming to provide many one-off opportunities to include more others people in the project.

Research and nature

We are lucky this project incorporates both the gardening and the research elements of Ysgubor Fawr. For those interested in gardening, we recently provided a couple of sessions for participants to discuss what they want the garden to become. These were very engaging sessions with lots of discussion on how gardening helps our well-being and lots of ideas on things participants were interested in learning throughout the project.

We encourage participants to think about their positive impact on local wildlife and biodiversity. We have begun discussing ideas such as providing bird boxes, bug hotels and native plants. Our participants are particularly keen to use natural materials to build habitats and think the wooded section of the garden will be an excellent place to put these.

Accessible learning

We also asked participants to think about accessibility whilst planning their garden. Accessibility is essential for everyone to be able to enjoy this space. We will be holding lots of activities here, so improving accessibility will benefit many of our other supported individuals who visit the garden. Our participants have suggested that widening paths, adding ramps and creating wheelchair-friendly raised beds would be great for those with higher mobility support needs.

Our participants have also thought about those with autism who will enjoy the sensory aspect of the garden. They suggested a water feature and lots of scented plants for those who need extra sensory input. We have also discussed a dark, quiet, enclosed area in the wooded section of the garden for those who need to get away from things.

Another participant was eager to spread the positive work adults with Learning Disabilities do by producing a calendar filled with photos of everyone’s work in the garden. They wanted to sell the calendar and return the profits to the Secret Garden. We absolutely love this innovative idea!

What’s next at Ysgubor Fawr?

Our participants will start work in the garden this December, with their sessions planned by our Skills and Wellbeing team. These sessions have been designed based on their ideas for the garden. It has been fantastic for our participants to practise the skills of planning a gardening project before actually seeing their plans take shape.

We are also planning a couple of sessions for our participants interested in the historical aspect of the Secret Garden and Ysgubor Fawr. In these sessions, we will introduce historical research in an accessible way with lots of role-playing and discussion on the history of Ysgubor Fawr. 

These first sessions will lead to participants using St Fagans’ archives and the Glamorgan Archives to produce an interactive exhibition in the gallery at St Fagan’s Museum. I think it’s safe to say our participants have a busy couple of years ahead of themselves!

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