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Jean

Jean won the Blind Gardener of the Year award in 2008, a competition run by Slob in partnership with RNIB. She lost her sight through macular degeneration but still loves to garden.


Jean tell us her story:

Jean picking beans
"I am 82 and live by myself and try to be as independent as possible, despite being registered blind and deaf. I started gardening with interest when my family had all flown the nest, but I started loosing my sight rapidly with macular degeneration in 2001. I live on the Kent, Sussex border and usually have either family or friends visit at the weekends. My son now cuts the grass for me, but otherwise I do all my own gardening.

"My garden, which once housed the local flour mill, now has mature well-fed soil. I have a variety of shrubs and small trees, a number of perennials, spring bulbs and tubs with annuals, and lastly a vegetable patch. I like to grow vegetables which I can enjoy fresh during the summer and have some left over to freeze or give to friends and family. I have leeks, peas, runner beans, broad beans, Swiss chard, leeks, courgettes and tomatoes, parsley and mint as herbs. Taste is a very important sense to me.

"My top tips for other blind gardeners are to put bright yellow insulating tape around tools to make them easier to find. I also keep tools well organised for the same reason. I choose flowers that are bright, particularly white and yellow as I can see these easier – for example Rudbeckias and light leaved plants like variegated buddleia. I have also increased the number of plants that have a strong scent like orange blossom, hyacinths, narcissus and sweet peas in my vegetable patch.

"I enjoy feeding the birds with seeds, peanuts and bird cake. Though I don’t see them I do sometimes hear them and my visitors tell me there are quite a variety. I use mountain clips in bright colours to re-hang my bird feeders, they are easy to clip and see – this might be a useful hint for other blind gardeners.

"I would also say to other blind people – don’t worry if something doesn’t work out, it might be nature’s fault, not yours, and by trying again you will probably succeed with next years’ plants."