Ethel L. Dupar’s Fragrant Garden
Ethel L. Dupar’s Fragrant Garden is located behind Seattle Lighthouse, and is designed specifically for people who are blind or Deaf-Blind, with over sixty different fragrant plants that appeal both to the sense of smell and touch. Established in 1973, the garden is completely wheel-chair accessible. A nice break from the industrial environment where Seattle Lighthouse production is centered, the garden provides a pleasant space for employees to relax. The garden presents an enrichment activity for employees who may want to learn more about plants and gardening. Health and wellness benefits of gardens are evident, with studies showing that spending time in a garden can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and lower stress levels immediately. For a blind person living in a sighted world, anything that can relieve stress is an obvious benefit.
Blind and Deaf-Blind individuals contend with many barriers and stresses each day. There are significant barriers to finding employment and a 70% unemployment rate within the blind community, challenges traveling to and from home, and difficulties in finding accessible information. Our fragrant garden provides relief from these stresses, and a place for employees and community members to relax during the workday.
This year there are many changes on the horizon for the fragrant garden. The Lighthouse is moving forward with plans to convert an existing oval, ground-level bed in the center of the garden into a raised bed that will allow the planting of a wider variety of new plants. While some of the existing beds emphasize plants with fragrant foliage and showcase scents ranging from peanut butter to curry, the new area will focus on floral fragrances. Raised beds create a pocket of air for scents to linger in the garden, making them easily enjoyable for blind and Deaf-Blind Lighthouse employees and garden visitors.
“This project will be one of the most ambitious things we have undertaken in the garden. It’s going to pay off, and we are going to have a huge amount of new planting space where we can experiment with new things and have some old favorites. We are really looking forward to it.”
— Helen Weber, Master Gardener for the Ethel L. Dupar Fragrant Garden
Other projects slated for this year include the renovation of the existing irrigation system, updating and increasing braille directional signs, and new landscaping around the entry area to the garden. The Lighthouse received a donation for a memorial bench in the garden, which will be a focal point in the new design around the entry.