When we went to Niagara Falls, I spotted a map on the wall at the Butterfly Conservatory. It was a map of a scenic route along the Falls. I noticed that one of the stops along the route was a Floral Showcase. On closer inspection, there was a note under the name that said that the site included a “fragrance garden for the visually impaired.” I was so excited to visit this garden, which was just past the Falls.
I have been reading about fragrance gardens and sensory gardens that people with low vision can enjoy. I am interested in turning part of our yard into a “sensory” garden so that I can enjoy gardening, even with low vision. I have started a list of suitable plants for such a garden. I thought that visiting this special garden would give me a boost in planning one at our house.
After we finished our visit to the Butterfly Conservatory and the Botanical Gardens, we headed for the Floral Showcase. We found a place to park and walked over to the Showcase, which looked like a series of greenhouses. We looked for some sort of sign about the “garden for the visually impaired,” but could not find any indication that it existed. We happily wandered through the greenhouses, which were loaded with unusual tropical plants.
We saw many beautiful plants in the greenhouses, and even some birds singing and flying around inside. It was beautiful, but we decided that the garden we were looking for must be outside. We could not find anyone to ask, so we headed outside.
Finally, in a little gift shop, we found a woman who pointed us in the general direction of the fragrance garden. We followed where her finger pointed and found a huge garden with a pond and a bridge and paths. We wandered around and nothing seemed like it could be a fragrance garden. We did find a lot of lavender (which is fragrant), but nothing identifying a fragrance garden and no sign that anything was prepared for the visually impaired.
I was feeling very frustrated, and I really wanted to find this garden, so we went back and asked the woman at the gift shop again. She gave us more explicit directions to the part of the garden that was for the visually impaired, but it sounded like where we had just been. We headed back, thinking we had missed something.
We walked through the entire garden, to the part she had indicated and to every other part we could find. We touched all the plants, to see if we could find some that were particularly fragrant. I have no idea where the “fragrance garden for the visually impaired” was. I was so disappointed. If the garden was there somewhere, it was not placed in a way that a visually impaired person (with sighted helper) could find it. We did see lots of gorgeous flowers throughout the gardens and some lovely dragonflies on the pond.
After returning home, I looked up this garden on the internet. Sure enough, it is listed as part of the Floral Showcase. The description even says that the “plants are identified in braille for persons who are visually impaired.” I don’t know why we could not find this garden. I wonder if any people with low vision ever find it. I wonder if any people with perfect eyesight ever find it. Luckily, all the beauty of the flowers and plants we did see made up for missing the special garden. It was a great visit to the Floral Showcase – and I am still interested in planting a “sensory” garden in our yard. I should be able to find it there.