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National Trust partnership with disability charity SENSE

A man in a wheelchair wearing a brown coat closes his eyes as he reaches out to touch a yellow flower in the Internal Garden; a wooden box full of flowers which is wired up to electrical equipment which plays the sounds of the flowers.
Visitor experienced the sounds and touch feedback of nature | © SENSE Arts

During summer 2022, National Trust properties Wightwick Manor and Croome started a partnership with disability charity SENSE with the aim to offer our visitors with profound learning disabilities a way to experience plants and our special places using innovative technology.

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National Trust Partnership with disability charity Sense

Wightwick Manor in Wolverhampton and Croome in Worcestershire have been working with Sense to welcome people with complex disabilities to experience their gardens like never before. All of the music you hear in this video was generated by the interactions between plants and visitors.

In 2022, the National Trust properties Wightwick Manor and Croome joined forces with disability charity SENSE, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This pioneering project, ‘Internal Garden’, helped to make heritage and horticulture accessible for people with deaf blindness and complex disabilities.

Did you know that plants could sing?

Designed by sound artist and long-time SENSE supporter, Justin Wiggan, the resulting soundscape installations, which were created by people’s interactions by plants and nature, we made available for visitors to experience at both National Trust properties in September 2022.

The technology works by translating electrical currents existing on the surfaces of plants into sounds and vibrations. Audiences connect with the plants so they can both hear and feel their interactions using SubPac wearable vests. People with complex disabilities are then able to create deeper and more immediate connections with plant-life and nature in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

An outstretched hand with a sticky pad attached to a wire on the back of it reaches out to hold a pink flower.
Visitors communicating with nature | © SENSE Arts

Connections to nature

During the summer workshops, over 200 people interacted with the technology and experienced each garden like never before. The outcome was a series of bespoke recorded ‘soundscapes’ of plants and people from the gardens, which were then used to create audio installations open to the public in September 2022.

Four members of staff, three women and a man are wearing white shirts with the purple and orange Sense logo on them. They are facing the camera and smiling. They are stood next to the Internal Garden. Two wooden boxes. In one box is an Ipad and some headphones and the other box is full of flowers with wires coming out of them. There are four chairs in front of the box, two of the chairs have subpack vibrating vests attached to them.
The SENSE team at Wightwick | © SENSE Arts

Opening up new conversations

Stephanie Tyrell, Head of Arts and Wellbeing at Sense said of the project:

“This project has been a fabulous way to bring the two charities together. We’re so pleased with the impact of the project and the way we have created exciting and innovative spaces for people with complex disabilities to connect to plants and heritage at the National Trust.

The project has opened up new conversations and has enabled people from diverse backgrounds to come together to share new experiences.”

For more information about SENSE, please visit

A view of Wightwick Manor's south terrace with pink magnolia tree in the foreground.

The garden at Wightwick 

The garden at Wightwick is the perfect place for a walk after enjoying the delights of the house. Designed by Thomas Mawson, today it has something to see no matter what the season.

Colourful flowers in the spring in the Mediterranean garden at Croome

Croome's Walled Gardens 

Discover more about the privately owned Walled Gardens at Croome, home to large greenhouses, a rose garden and vegetable plots.

The interior of Wightwick Manor, West Midlands, featuring a superb collection of William Morris fabrics and wallpapers and Pre-Raphaelite paintings alongside de Morgan tiles

The house and collection at Wightwick 

Explore a home full of Pre-Raphaelite art and William Morris interiors, lovingly collected by Sir Geoffrey and Rosalie, Lady Mander.