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New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill welcomes the public to discover The Court: A Garden Within Reach from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 12. Volunteers and staff will be celebrating the opening of this innovative space, New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill’s 15th garden, and offering insights to visitors and members about the area’s special features.

Construction for The Court, named for Robert Courtemanche, a generous supporter of New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill, was completed in the fall of 2015. Planting commenced this spring with the help of guests from organizations such as the Seven Hills Foundation, which promotes and encourages the empowerment of people with significant challenges so that each may pursue their highest possible degree of personal well-being and independence.

“New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill’s goal is that visitors leave The Court with ideas to grow plants and reshape their own outdoor spaces in new ways,” said Interim CEO Suzanne Maas. “We hope guests return often to benefit again and again even more from the close contact with plants and with our community of plant lovers.”

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Volunteers from Canines for Disabled Kids help plant the herb garden bed.

Many individuals and organizations, such as the Massachusetts Cultural Council, helped contribute guidance and financial support to make the inclusive garden a reality. It is a model of universal design – an architectural strategy that seeks to produce aesthetically pleasing spaces that are inherently accessible to all people, with or without disability.  

The garden features raised planting beds, a water feature than can be easily accessed by those using wheelchairs, gentle sloping walkways, display of ergonomic tools, extensive seating, hanging planters that may be raised and lowered by pulley systems for ease of access, and plants selected for their beauty, texture, and fragrance,.

“This new space engages a growing audience of people with various levels of mobility,” said Joann Vieira, New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill’s director of horticulture. “It brings gardening back to many people. This beautiful and functional space can have a major impact on so many people who may have felt left out of gardening.”

The new garden was first envisioned in New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill’s original 50-year Master Plan as a place where “horticulture therapy” could take place. Today, the field of study is becoming more popular as a strategy for improving mental and physical health.