A sensory garden is designed using plants with special sensory qualities that will stimulate our senses of sight, smell, touch, or taste. The idea of using plants that are especially suited to stimulating responses from our senses makes for a pleasing area for us to visit and will attract desirable wildlife such as butterflies and hummingbirds and add even more sensory stimulants to the garden.
The idea of sensory gardens was first conceived for the blind or those who were visually impaired and those with other special physical or emotional needs. These were designed to offer something that could be enjoyed by those that had use of some but not all of their senses.
Today, however, more and more, the sensory garden is being used to create a greater appreciation of the world around us and to focus on people with all abilities. The selection of plants that will provide a positive sensory experience and enhance the person’s life and sense of well-being is the cornerstone of these gardens.
The sensory garden is divided into five sections to match the senses. Sight, taste, smell, touch, and sound are made with plants and natural and man-made elements that can stimulate a specific sensory response.
Ornamental Grasses bring both a visual stimulus as it sways in the breeze and a sound stimulus as it rustles in the wind. A fountain gently splashing or the roar of a waterfall bring the sound of the movement of water to the garden and the sound of the singing birds attracted by the water.
You can stimulate both the sense of sight and smell by using plantings of fragrant flowers and foliage. Flowers are generally the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of smell in the garden, but many plants have fragrant leaves.
Try to incorporate herbs such as thyme and rosemary to release a strong fragrance when stepped on or crushed. Roses are an all-time classic when it comes to scents.
When it comes to touch, flowers and foliage can offer a wide variety of interesting textures flowers can be soft and smooth or waxy. Some may produce interesting seed pods or have prickly stems. Leaves can be smooth or velvety silky or puckered. Really examine plants to find those with interesting attributes.
As for the sense of taste, yes, there are fruits and vegetables, but what about other types of plant parts? Edible flowers can add a new dimension to the garden. Deep-fried squash flowers or candied violets, not to mention tea made from rose hips.
Overall the idea is to create a garden that allows you to start enjoying the natural world around you in different ways than you are accustomed to, using all your senses.
Also Read: Moving Garden Plants