Openwork designs sensorial garden for Heide Museum of Modern Art

Openwork has designed a garden for the Heide Museum of Modern Art that will harness the curative and healing properties of plants.

The Healing Garden will be planted between Heide founder Sunday Reed’s original heritage-listed kitchen garden and the Heide cottage.

Circular in space, the design of the garden draws on the concept of proxemics, the study of personal space and how far apart people need to be from each other in different social circumstances.

The garden will comprise six distinct planting zones, each will facilitate different sensorial activities.

“By turning up the volume on the diversity, colour, texture, and sensory stimulus, the Healing Garden is inherently a space defined by surrender and escape from the everyday, a place to recharge and step away from normal behaviours,” said Openwork director Mark Jacques. “As visitors walk through the garden we hope they will slow down, hear the birds and leaves swaying the wind, see the butterflies, smell the flowers and accept the invitation to pause and mindfully explore the detail around them.”

A sensory kitchen garden located adjacent to the existing kitchen garden will stimulate the sense of taste.

A Bush Tucker garden will incorporate a piece stone that could be used to grind bush foods; a garden of strong fragrant plants that include Sunday Reed’s original roses, will mark the entrance to the Healing Garden with the sense of smell.

A Haptic Play Garden featuring a tactile water feature that can be touched and heard will be a space for children on the autism spectrum.

A Wild Garden, inspired by the climbing roses of the original Heide garden, will create a space deliberately maintained to appear wild.

The largest cluster of plants, the Meadow will draw on the new perennial and herbaceous gardens movement pioneered by English horticulturalist and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. The original Heide garden is based on Jekyll’s informal principles. The plants in the Meadow will emphasise seasonal change and an immersive experience.

The Healing Garden will also include seating made from left-over limestone from the construction of Heide Modern, designed by McGlashan and Everist and built in 1967.

“Using existing structures and plants the design looks to heighten the experience of nature and create a protective space within the wider Heide garden,” said Openwork senior landscape architect Elizabeth Herbert. “In many ways the Healing Garden sums up the broader Heide ethos and garden experience in one space. By creating small moments through different planting styles, strategic seating placement and sensory activities, the garden’s design invites visitors to pause, occupy the space around them and ultimately own their experience.”

The Healing Garden is expected to open in late 2020, and the gallery hopes it will become a vital space for community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heide artistic director Lesley Harding said, “For Sunday Reed, who founded Heide with her husband John, gardening went hand-in-hand with art, poetry, cooking, love and life. Her garden was a creative outlet and a place of respite and rejuvenation. Like Sunday, the Heide team today recognise that gardens and nature can help improve people’s wellbeing and restore a sense of equilibrium, something that will be particularly important in the coming months.”

In April 2019, Openwork and UK-based Carmody Groarke were appointed to create a masterplan for the 15-acre site occupied by Heide Museum of Modern Art.

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