Loveday Abbey Road

Designed for dementia
An overgrown garden was transformed into a world-class sensory garden for those living with dementia.

The brief for the new care home was for the building and landscape to work seamlessly together, to create a refined and welcoming home-from-home experience to complement the interior spaces and afford a garden space that would be an integral part of the care. The opportunity was to define a garden tailored to multiple resident’s needs, to evoke memories, stimulate the senses, and to afford a sense of calm and provide a connection to nature.

The existing site was neglected and overgrown and the challenge was to create a new garden that responded to the site, based in best practice of dementia care, founded upon design principles to aid those in later life, especially with reduced mobility, macular degeneration and those living with dementia. The design proposals were informed by a unique training course to experience first-hand the challenges of living with dementia.

The planting palette was meticulously researched to ensure every plant is non-toxic, does not trigger skin irritation, or cause upset if ingested, to eliminate risk to those living with dementia. A potting shed and raised allotment beds allow residents to take part in gardening as a therapeutic activity, providing touch, smell and taste senses, and provides the in-house chef a fresh supply of herbs and vegetables.
Planting sought to celebrate seasonal change and circadian rhythm, promote biodiversity and birdsong with safe plant textures for touch, bright planting hues for ease of sight, rustling grasses for sound and scented planting to evoke memories. Low planting has been set out to allow passive surveillance across the garden, with no hidden corners, whilst a higher edge of climbing plants maintain a sense of privacy along site boundaries.
Innovative garden elements include unique feature panels to provide contrast, to allow those living with macular degeneration a clear view to appreciate flowers, and were inspired by William Morris wallpaper to evoke memory recollection. Extensive testing of bespoke potting tables was undertaken to allow optimum accessibility for wheelchairs users.
Wide level paths set out a ‘looped’ walking route to allow safe exploration, with seating pause points overlooking the garden in both sun and shade. A new focal water wall allows further sensory elements of sound, sight and touch, and finishes consider light reflectance values (LRV) to ensure surfaces are legible for those who are visually challenged.

Knight Frank Luxury Care Home Awards 2024
Winner 'Care Home Renovation'

Landscape Institute Awards 2023
Finalist ‘Excellence in Public Health and Wellbeing’ Abbey Road


Loveday Abbey Road, St John's Wood, London




Loveday & Co


Landscape Design
Concept to Tender, Construction monitoring


Knight Frank Luxury Care Home Awards 2024 – Winner 'Care Home Renovation'
Landscape Institute Awards 2023 – Finalist ‘Excellence in Public Health and Wellbeing’ Abbey Road


Architect: ReardonSmith Architects
Structural & Civil Engineers: Elementa
Project Manager & Quantity Surveyor: Quantem
Operator Project Manager: Rumpoint

Photo Credits:

Loveday & Co/ Louise Haywood-Schiefer