Day-glo tools and other aids help low-vision gardeners
COLLECTORS OUT AND ABOUT
Lesley Lilley doesn’t let her blindness get in the way of her love of gardening.
She has found innovative ways to indulge her green thumb thanks to a gardening group run by the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.
‘‘My mother was an avid gardener. She always said I wasn’t much good at it and I’m really not,’’ she says.
‘‘But when the foundation started the group and asked me to join I thought ‘why not?’
‘‘I might not be good at gardening but I can appreciate gardens wherever I go.’’
Ms Lilley has a long history with the foundation.
She was born with double cataracts which were removed before she was a year old.
She has roughly 60 per cent vision when wearing glasses.
‘‘At 4 years old I went to live at the Foundation of the Blind to help develop my self-help skills because my parents felt they didn’t have the skills to do it. I would Keep an eye out for street collectors during Blind Week.
Blind Week is one of the main opportunities for the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind to generate awareness and support for its cause.
Funds raised will help the foundation continue to see them on the holidays. That was the way in those days.’’
Now Ms Lilley lives in an apartment with a little front garden full of vegetables and flowers.
The trickiest part about gardening is distinguishing the weeds, she says.
‘‘Sometimes I pull out the plants that I think are weeds.’’
Foundation recreation adviser Fiona Heenan says that is a common difficulty faced by blind or low-vision gardeners.
But to tackle the problem Ms Heenan has devised a collar made from a recycled provide its members with training, tools and tips to deal with their sight loss and lead independent lives.
As well as street collections people can donate by calling 0800 DONATE or visiting blindweek.org.nz.
Blind Week runs until November 4. bottle that can be placed around a plant to make it stand out as a non-weed.
Ms Heenan has also thought of other ingenious ways to help sightchallenged gardeners.
‘‘A green and black trough in the earth is very hard to put your hand on, so we spray paint the tools day-glo orange so they are easier to find,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s about reducing frustration.’’
The gardening group has been running for five years and has 15 core members.
The group meets once a month and will take a trip to visit an interesting garden or have a workshop.
Planting passion: Low-vision gardener Lesley Lilley demonstrates tools that have been spraypainted day-glo orange so they can be more easily found. Go to aucklandcity harbournews.co.nz and click Latest Edition to watch a video of tips for low-vision gardeners.