Episode 69 – Gardening By Touch, Sound, Smell and Taste

This week I’m speaking to Andrew Hesser, the man behind Bryan’s Quest, a website and YouTube channel dedicated to exploring the natural world from the perspective of Bryan, a blind person. Andrew is also blind and draws on his personal experiences of gardening, volunteering for the National Trust and getting out and about in nature to produce videos and a library of resources for gardeners, in order to highlight how the natural world can be experienced without sight.

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About Andrew Hesser:

“I’ve been blind for many years and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of study, work and family life. There have, of course, been difficult times when I’ve struggled to keep positive as I’ve ‘battled’ hard to get information made accessible to me. It is, for example frustrating to find shops full of cookery and gardening books totally inaccessible to me. Then there are the significant challenges of getting around using buses, trains, taxis and on foot, especially in new locations.

It is only in the past five years, or so that I have started to discover new ways of engaging with and enjoying nature and this naturally leads to wanting to learn more about the wonderful wildlife we are all surrounded by. However, much of the natural world is presented in a visual way, with colourful photos in books and amazing television documentaries. In fact it’s easy for all of us to think of nature being predominantly a visual experience, with all those beautiful views across gardens, countryside landscapes and hill-top vistas.

However, I continue to explore the opportunities to appreciate nature using hearing, touch, smell and taste. There is a lot of work to be done to arrange facilities and services to fully exploit the use of all five senses to appreciate the natural world.

Gardening is one readily available pastime that brings me very close to nature. Without sight all of the non-visual senses can be applied to get success in the garden and a feeling of achievement.  However, this can only be obtained by developing discipline to be  methodical, patient and resourceful to get truly meaningful pleasures from sowing, growing and caring for plants.”

What We Discuss:

Some of the biggest challenges faced by partially sighted or blind gardeners

Navigating around the garden and other outdoor spaces

What we’re missing out on in gardens if we just focus on the visual

Playing to the other senses – including particularly good plants or garden features

Methods and processes that help when working in the garden

Gardening as an activity for those visually impaired people who may not have already tried it

What do visually impaired people need more (or less of) of in public gardens?

Helpful resources

Links:

www.bryansquest.org https://bryansquest.org

Bryan’s Quest on Twitter

Bryan’s Quest YouTube Channel

www.look-uk.org

www.sensing-nature.com

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