Day-glo tools and other aids help low-vi­sion gar­den­ers

COL­LEC­TORS OUT AND ABOUT

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

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.

Photo: DANIELLE STREET

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.

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