A garden designed with the five senses in mind is a real joy to behold. To an extent every garden touches at least some of these, but creating a space made specifically to appeal to the eyes, ears, fingers, nose and tongue is a greatly rewarding project. Sensory gardens are often professionally designed to invigorate the senses of people with specific disabilities; a fantastic way to create a healing, comforting and stimulating environment.
Colour is one of the mainstays in sensory garden design, and plants should be chosen for their year-round effect. Summer time colours will have the added benefit of attracting wildlife to the garden – butterflies, bees and other insects all inject life, movement and energy. Bright, beautiful clematis produce stunning blooms throughout spring and summer, and are available in many colours. During colder months, bulbs can help to bring colour to a winter scene, and creating an inviting habitat for birds will ensure the garden is alive with colour as well as sound.
Ears to the Ground
Create sound in your sensory garden easily with plants and man-made features. A gravel pathway will add a pleasing crunch underfoot, for example, and water features can bring an oh-so-soothing touch. When planting for sound, best friends will be tall, swishing specimens – think bamboos and grasses. Wind chimes can also lend a peaceful, musical touch to a garden.
Using texture will create a garden design that invites touch, from rough tree bark to soft, smooth rose petals, it’s simple to make a real impact. The flowers of daffodils and fuchsias offer irresistible opportunities for some gentle investigation, and children especially will enjoy exploring plants that change when touched, like the silk tree with its reactive fronds. Also think seed pods – those of the busy lizzie burst on contact, scattering their seeds asunder.
Many flowers these days have been bred for colour and showiness rather than scent, so get your hands on a good plant reference book to find some fragrant specimens. Herbs smell gorgeous planted together, and squeezing their leaves between your fingers releases their delicious perfume. The scent of lavender carries pleasantly on a breeze, while a crowd of nemesias will bring a lovely aroma to a seating area. For a classic English garden touch, why not investigate the array of roses available for a range of delicious fragrances, bringing additional colour to your garden, too.
The taste of freshly-picked mint flavouring new potatoes, a few leaves of basil scattered on a salad – creating an edible garden goes beyond planting up a vegetable patch. A sunny wall will give life to a grape vine, or try growing your own strawberries in a hanging basket for extra interest. There’s nothing more satisfying than harvesting and eating your home-grown fare, fresh from the garden in minutes.
A sensory garden requires thought and planning, but can bring spectacular results. You’ll attract wildlife as well as people, and you might even create an essential natural home for a variety of insects and birds along the way.