Around Town

A Touching Experience

INSIGHT leads blind visitors through Blithewold’s fabled gardens


Gardens appeal to all the senses: the smell of flowers, the texture of stems, the sound of wildlife, and the taste of the harvest. In other words, you don’t have to see a garden to experience it. That’s why Blithewold Mansion became a provocative destination for INSIGHT, a Warwick-based organization that has helped people with visual impairment for nearly a century, which will visit the botanical grounds on May 30.

“We look for recreational opportunities that can be easily made accessible,” says Christopher Butler, executive director of INSIGHT. “Either it’s a narrated tour or a sensory tour – there’s some way for people with limited vision to enjoy the activity.”

A group of INSIGHT participants first visited Blithewold in 2015, exploring the Edwardian estate and hearing about its storied past. A gardener led the sensory expedition through the greenhouses and bamboo grove, then to an outdoor lunch on the mansion’s front porch. Three years have passed, yet the last visit was so successful, Butler expects all 20 slots to fill up quick.

“It works very well, because they have flat, even walking paths,” he says. “There are lots of different trees and other plants that have unique bark, unique leaves, unique smells.”