Sensory-rich activities: connecting people with the outdoors

Bulb planting

This is bulb planting with a twist! Memories associated with being outdoors are painted around the pot in which the bulb is planted. Memories are written onto ‘flags’ which are planted in the pot and the whole thing acts as an ‘aide memoire’ or conversation starter whilst waiting for the bulb(s) to grow. Whilst this is a great activity for adults with dementia, all ages and abilities can enjoy taking part.

bulb planting

You will need

Pot decorating
1 empty plant pot (washed and dried) – any size you like
Can of spray paint (a light coloured car spray paint is ideal)
Paints (small tester pots or any leftover tins are useful)
Small brushes
Scraps of material
Outdoor images from magazines (e.g. landscapes, activities, wildlife, plants etc)

Bulb planting
Bulbs of your choice (the bigger the pot the more bulbs you can put in).

Memory flag
A6 plain piece card
Hole punch or sharp pencil
Small garden cane
Pen

Method

1. Before the activity, spray the pot evenly all over with the spray paint. This is best done outside or in a well-ventilated area. Allow plenty of time for it to dry so do this either the day before or at least two hours beforehand

2. Whilst the paint is drying think of a memory that you would like to decorate your pot with. It can be a about a place, a person, an activity or event associated with nature or being outdoors

3.Take the sprayed pot and paint the memory around the outside of it. It’s about expressing that memory not the quality of the art work - so be brave, let the creativity flow!

4. Allow the paint to dry

5. It’s time to plant the bulb(s) and there are two ways you can do this:
a. Fill the pot with the compost to the rim, make a hole for the bulb using your finger, or a large stick. Plant the bulb and cover the hole over, or;
b. Fill the pot up to the depth that the bulb should be planted, pop the bulb on top of the compost and then cover over with the rest of the compost to the rim of the pot.

The roots on your bulb should face down. This usually means that it’s the “pointy end” that needs to face up! Not all bulbs clearly show which is top or bottom so if you’re not sure, plant the bulb on its side.

6. Take the plain piece of A6 card and write a short description of your painted memory on it.

7. Use the hole punch to make two holes along the short side of the card (or use a pencil to make the holes) and slide the garden cane through the holes to make a flag. Plant the ‘memory’ flag in the pot to one side so you don’t disturb the bulb(s).

My Hippie Wedding 1970 written on a plant label

Top Tips

• Planting several bulbs together provides a wonderful group display or you may want to plant one bulb that produces a ‘show-stopper’ flower.

• The ‘memory’ flag allows opportunities for conversation around the memory and what’s in the pot – making use of the pot and its decoration before the bulb sprouts

• You can include the name of the bulb and the date planted on your ‘memory’ flag and why not find a picture of the flower and glue it in the corner of the flag as another reminder and opportunity for discussion

• Once the plant shows above the soil you have the option of transplanting the flower(s) out in the garden. In doing this you’ve created two activities out of one – what a bargain!

Download the bulb planting instructions

Bulb planting instructions pdf (973kb)
Bulb planting instructions plain text

 

Links

Creative activities for carers - see more about how we're using activities with carers

Creative Spaces resources - find out how we're using dementia-friendly activities

Let Nature Feed Your Senses - see how we're using activities as part of sensory-rich visits to farms

Have you seen our mindfulnes for dementia resource? A ready to go activity to guide you through mindfullness meditation in nature

Take it all in mindfulness for dementia