An Taoiseach Micheál Martin officially opened the Sensory Garden at the Cope Foundation. The garden has been lovingly developed by team members of the Trigon Hotels, the Cope Foundation as well as volounteers and students at the Cope Foundation. An Taoiseach Micheál Martin with Mark, who is a student supported by Cope Foundation. Photos: Brian Lougheed

A new oasis full of colour

An unused patch of ground in Montenotte has been transformed and is now filled with different colours, textures, scents and sounds.

It’s the new sensory garden at Cope Foundation which was a project between the charity and Trigon Hotels.

Volunteers from both organisations have transformed the ground next to Beech Hill Garden Centre into an inviting space. The colourful and calming environment is wheelchair accessible and has raised beds filled with plants to stimulate the senses. There is colourful and interesting foliage planted throughout, a water feature, wall feature and artwork.

Cope Foundation and Ability@Work is the hotel group’s charity partner for 2021 and 2022. Last year, team members from Trigon Hotels raised €11,000 for the organisation which is being used to fund the sensory garden. The idea for the project stems from their shared interest in growing food and gardening.

A Taoiseach Micheál Martin was recently on hand to officially open the garden. He said: “It is wonderful to see these organisations working together to make a real difference. The sensory garden is a great initiative, and an oasis of calm I know will be used by many of the people supported by Cope Foundation. The garden forms just one element of Trigon Hotels’ partnership with Cope Foundation and Ability@Work. They also provide employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities and autism which is so important.”

Horticulture is a popular subject at Cope Foundation’s Bonnington Training Centre and 36 students from the centre have been involved in the planning and development of the garden.

A poly tunnel and two large vegetable beds form part of the garden. Potatoes, broad beans, peas, onions, cabbage and broccoli are among the veg currently being grown. Students are also growing salad leaves and seasonal organic produce for Trigon Hotels.

The sensory garden overlooks Cork city and includes artwork by street artist Kevin O’Brien. Kevin designed and painted the Hands of Hope mural on Harley Street which is an initiative by Trigon Hotels, Cope Foundation and Ability@Work. The paint for the garden was kindly sponsored by Pat McDonnell Paints. A beautiful garden feature was donated by Catt and Paddy McCarthy. Lidl also supported the project.

Cope Foundation Chief Executive, Sean Abbott said: “The sensory garden is a fantastic addition to our organisation. I believe that by working together great things can be achieved and that’s what has happened here. The team from Trigon spotted a patch of unused ground during a walkabout of our facility and remarked that it looked perfect for a sensory garden.

“Volunteers from Trigon, people we support and our staff have worked tirelessly over the past few months to make that idea a reality. Not only is it a new learning environment for our students but it is a safe space where the people we support, staff and members of the public can be part of nature and away from noise and traffic.”