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Creating a Sensory Garden

Sensory gardens are designed to stimulate the senses!

Plants and other aspects of the garden are used to provide experiences for the senses. It's a garden that has a variety of aromas, textures, colours and shapes. Other senses, less commonly thought about, are also experienced, such as: gravity, temperature, space & enclosure.

Sensory gardens are an exciting place for kids to connect with nature, as they are actually invited to touch, rub, smell, and eat the plants.

The bright yellow colour and its size make it visually pop-out in the garden
Banksia Cone
A great example of the interesting, soft prickly, textures of certain plants
Visual stimulation with colourful objects
Adding colourfull objects to your garden, besides plants, stimulates the senses
Sensory Garden
At a school in Broken Hill

Designing your Sensory Garden

Sensory gardens are a combination of hardscape elements and plants that combine to provide a sensory experience of colour, smells, textures, sounds and tastes to awaken the senses and relax the mind.

Components of a Sensory Garden:

Hardscape Components: The hardscape components are the non-living components of the garden. The paths, benches, containers, decking, mulch and walls, etc. These aspects also pro-vide opportunities for colour and texture etc. Path surfaces can vary throughout the garden but consideration needs to be given to who will be using the garden and if it needs to be wheelchair friendly.

Signage is an important aspect of a sensory garden. Users will be more inclined to interact with the space and the plants. This can be achieved by a map or individual signs which could be colour or symbol coded to highlight the different senses associated with each plant or area of the garden.
Plant Selection: As is the case with any garden, consideration must go into the selected site and its conditions. As users of the space are encouraged to interact with the plants, avoid plants that are poisonous, allergenic, or are likely to require pesticides.

Stimulating the Senses

Red Rhododendron flower
Colour, varying textures and forms, light and shade and contrasting these elements. Remember it’s not just flowers but bark and foliage can have vibrant colours. Sunflowers are an example of a suitable plant, but also add a variety of non-living colourful aspects to the garden.
Green bamboo leaves
Wind can offer sounds in many plants like bamboo stems knocking together, grasses rustling etc. Dried leaves can be walked upon and sounds of animals attracted to the garden can fill the air. Sounds can also be enhanced with wind chimes and running water.
Pink berries on a lilly pilly
There are numerous obvious plants such as fruit, vegetables and herbs, many of which are also colourful and aromatic. Great examples for your garden are: various lettuces, kales, cherry tomatoes, strawberries and lilly pillies.
Lambs Ear leave with a soft velvety texture
Plants are not limited to just rough and smooth. They can have a whole variety of interesting textures. You can have various bark textures as well as the leaves and flowers. Examples of different plants to feel in the garden are: lambs ears, banksia flowers, rough barked eucalyptus tree and paperbarks, succulents, ferns and mosses.
White gardenia flowers
Smells come from a variety of sources in the garden. Not just the flowers, but also the foliage, in the case of many culinary herbs and the soil too has a distinct smell. Examples are: Thyme, oregano, mint species, lavender, rosemary, lemon balm, jasmine, geraniums, gardenias, boronias and prostantheras.