Sensory Gardens are created to help relax, stimulate, and teach. They are planted for all populations – those with disabilities, children, patients in a hospital, and the general public. The idea behind the Sensory Garden is to combine elements that will stimulate all of the senses – fragrant plants, textured plants, vivid colors, and the element of sound. Combined, when one walks through the garden, they can experience the joy and relaxation from the plants with every aspect of the brain. Although Sensory Gardens are often planted for public enjoyment, try planting one this spring in your own garden for your loved ones, friends, and yourself to enjoy.
A Sensory Garden needs textured, interesting plants that will give the hands something to feel and examine. Make sure to use durable plants that can withstand curious hands! Try planting flowers with soft petals or leaves, spiky greenery, or feathery flowers – with no thorns! A few examples of plants that will fascinate the fingers are Astilbe, Bleeding Hearts, Foxgloves, Ornamental Grasses, Salvia, Caladium, and Canna Lilies.
Adding the element of sound to your Sensory Garden is not as tricky as you would think! If your time and budget allow, try adding a water feature to help bring this element of relaxing sound to the garden. Another option is to add plants that will attract beautiful and wonderfully-noisy wildlife to the garden. What’s better than the buzzing sound of a hummingbird’s wings or the delightful chirp of a beautiful bird feeding on your flowers? Try these plants that will attract these winged friends to your garden: African Lily, Butterfly Weed, Butterfly Bushes, Yarrow, Spiderwort, Lavender, Shasta Daisies, Echinacea, or Black-Eyed Susans.
Creating a Sensory Garden is not something that will happen overnight. It can be a wonderful addition to your outdoor space and an extremely fun project for the avid gardener. Try starting with a small corner of your garden, encompassing a few of each type of plant. As they grow, gradually add more to the lovely space. As space permits, try placing a bench or swing in the Sensory Garden so you and your lucky visitors can experience the treat for your senses in the utmost relaxation and peace.
As its name suggests, 'Spicy Orange' Creeping Thyme is a beautiful perennial herb with a fragrance reminiscent of spiced citrus. Delicate lavender-pink flower spikes top the evergreen foliage in early summer, attracting pollinators. Its low-growing habit is perfect between stepping stones where it can handle light foot traffic, along the front of a border, or in a container. (Thymus)
Russian Sage delivers tall, airy spires of lavender-blue color on highly-textured silver-gray foliage to the landscape. A robust plant, Russian Sage performs beautifully in hot, dry climates and is drought tolerant once established. Very attractive to pollinators, find a spot for this beautiful specimen where its gentle colors and loose shape can play a supporting role to bolder perennials, like coneflowers, rudbeckia and liatris. (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
'Salmon Star' Oriental Lily has 6" trumpet-shaped blooms in white with peach striping and rusty red spots. Blooms early and produces the heavenly fragrance Oriental lilies are famous for. At just under 3 feet in height and without much width to speak of, 'Salmon Star' is container-friendly and a great choice for tight spaces. (Lilium)
While many peonies are known for their pleasing scent, the Fragrant Peony Collection includes the sweetest smelling varieties we know! 'Festiva Maxima' with its double-white blooms dashed with crimson smells divine. 'Bartzella', an Itoh hybrid, is famous for its lemon-scented flowers. And 'Pink Hawaiian Coral' is an award-winning, semi-double bloomer noted for its fragrance and notched petals. Plant these where you can smell them!