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Image shows a pretty garden and flowers on a sunny day

How many kinds of sweet flowers grow in Dawn's accessible country garden?

Sheahan Arnott

More and more evidence is building about the value of gardening for people with MS, and now summer’s arrived it’s a good chance to spend time doing just that. We spoke to Dawn to find about more about her special garden and how it helps her manage her MS.

My passion for gardening started when I did work experience at a florist at age fourteen. I loved being surrounded by the aroma and learning about the flowers. I became so knowledgeable they took me on as a Saturday girl.

My garden is big – sixty foot long. Although we have lived in the house since 2003, we only had the resources to get it into shape last year, after I received my critical illness insurance payment.

Backyard blitz

It took a year to transform the garden from a scrubby patch of green into an oasis.

My neighbour and my husband specially built the garden to suit my abilities. They added a patio, steps and a bannister to help me move around.

They also added slate to the flower beds so I wouldn’t have to do any digging. All the flowers are in pots, so they’re easy to maintain. I’ve planted perennials, so they come back every year.

Enjoying the surroundings

In the garden, I feel relaxed. I like to sit out with my cross-stitch - it is very therapeutic when I am having a rough day with my MS. Sometimes my dog joins me.

I would encourage anyone with MS who is thinking about gardening to go for it! If you keep it low-maintenance - with pots and perennials – it is not tiring at all.

There is definitely a feeling of pride when you have created something beautiful.

Dawn is a teaching assistant who lives in Portsmouth with her husband and two teenage children. She was diagnosed with relapsing MS in 2013. The National Garden Scheme opens hundreds of gardens across England and Wales to the public to raise money for charities, including us!

> Find your nearest garden on the National Garden Scheme website