The Reminiscing Garden project in Melbourne’s south east is a creative space for family and friends impacted by dementia in a new and sustainable environment.

By Norminda Forteza, Chaplain, Australian Filipino Community Services | March 21, 2023

The friendly garden has become a space for seniors from diverse backgrounds.

Our Reminiscing Garden started with an idea planted in my heart by one of our seniors who loves gardening. She said, “when I see the plants growing in my backyard such as tomatoes, chokos, and taro, I am elated. These days I cannot do much because of my aches and pains but I am content with potted plants.”

I shared this idea with Dementia Australia and we agreed on the benefits of a community garden project to help people living with dementia.

Through a community grant, we developed the garden during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The concept is not focused on planting or gardening but to create a space where people can reminisce. Familiar plants like taro, jasmin star (similar to our ‘sampaguita’), tomatoes, purple spinach (‘alugbati’) bring back memories of our lives back in the Philippines.

In April 2021, we opened the Australian-Filipino Community Services dementia-friendly Reminiscing Garden in Doveton, in collaboration with the Samoan and Tamil communities and supported by Dementia Australia.

Twelve months later, this friendly garden has become a space for seniors from diverse backgrounds.

They gather and share their stories, plant veggies together and talk about the challenges of ageing, and for some, their experience of dementia.

This garden is a first for the City of Casey and is a creative space for older people to come together to tackle stigma around dementia, decrease isolation and eliminate discrimination experienced by Filipinos and CALD seniors living with dementia.

We have an opportunity to gather and continue our support to family and friends impacted by dementia in a fresh and sustainable environment.

This project received a $15,000 Community Engagement Project grant from Dementia Australia in 2020. The Reminiscing Garden is managed by AFCS and its volunteers and continues to have a positive impact on communities.

People living with dementia, their families and friends are invited to the garden to assist in repotting plants or use the space for reminiscing while surrounded by familiar sights and scents of their favourite plants and flowers.

In 2023, we have planned exciting activities in the garden.

This article was published in the
Summer 2023 edition of Golden Years.