GREEN-fingered inmates and staff from Maghaberry Prison are
competing for the first time at the Garden Festival at
Hillsborough Castle this weekend.
They have designed and constructed an
imaginative 'Garden of Release', which reflects the journey
faced by prisoners throughout their sentence. And Governor Fred
Caulfield is hoping this new venture will help plant the seeds
of rehabilitation for the prisoners involved.
"The vast majority of our work in Maghaberry
is geared towards preparing prisoners for their eventual release
into the community. This involves getting prisoners to come to
terms with their offences and to teach them new skills" he said.
"The work in designing and creating a garden
from scratch has helped to unlock their creativity and develop
skills, while at the same time reflecting on the
challenges of prison life."
The new garden depicts a typical journey
through a prison sentence.
There is a section with softer aromatic
plants, which reflect the prisoner becoming used with prison
life, progressing through the stages of rehabilitation towards
life on the outside.
A sun dial in the centre represents the
passage of time, while a number of paths represent the different
ways that prisoners can do their time. At the end of the garden
are open gates and a painting of a sun-kissed beach symbolising
Gates and other garden furniture have been
made by prisoners, while the prison's Braille Unit has supplied
signs to help visually impaired people identify flowers and
plants within the garden.