One of the families that received one of our community garden growing kits is setting up a sensorial garden for their son. We asked our Grow Dundee Facebook group for ideas or advice for them (Huge thank you to you all, too many to name!). Here are most of these ideas, laid out as a mini-guide in case you would like to set up a little sensory garden yourself.
What is a sensory garden? Its a garden that aims to maximise the positive impact a garden has on people who are encouraged to touch, smell, smell, listen, observe their surroundings. It is a safe space to feel better and
How to design? The sensory garden design can be adapted depending on the main users, people in wheelchairs, small children, older people needing stable surfaces, people needing quiet spaces, etc. Access and having social and quiet areas are essential to make it a good experience for users. Having your plants at a variety of heights can make the space more interesting and provide different feelings (ie trees for protection, ground plants to explore and harvest, bushes or climbers to touch without having to bend down…)
What to plant?
For TASTE: strawberries, borage (cucumber taste), peas (unbeatable plus the joy of getting them out of their pod), mizuna (tastes of soup to me!), gooseberry (very tart!), nasturtium flowers (beautiful annual climbers with a peppery taste), chamomile (for a relaxing tea)
For SIGHT: colourful cabbages and lettuces, sculptural kale and artichoke, flowering climbing beans, brightly coloured flowers like poppies or marigolds but also more relaxing pastel coloured ones like roses, forget-me-nots. Also very large or long leaved plants like grasses, garlic, pumpkins, etc add visual interest and unusual patterns on leaves or shapes like clover, golden sage, walking onions, etc
For TOUCH: long grass or grain plants (grow a chickpea, they are lovely!) to run your fingers through, fennel, allium flowers, lambs ear, dandelions, pine cones, curly kale or parsley, a squishy tomato or berry, different types of seeds you can collect (nigella, fennel, poppy, peas, beans, etc.)
For SMELL: Some of our visitors don’t enjoy touching the plants so make sure you have some that smell without touching or crushing like honeysuckle, lilac, mock orange or the curry plant. Sweet pea, blackcurrant (rub the branches!) and blackcurrant sage, rhubarb, jasmine, scented geranium, elderflower, scented narcissi for spring, roses, mint (many many different smells!), rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, basil, Nemesia “Wisley-Vanilla”, thyme, lemon verbena, lemon balm, Cosmos atrosanguineus (smells of chocolate and looks pretty says Erin), roman chamomile (smells of appley bubblegum according to Shonagh!), etc. Tomato, feverfew, lovage or pineapple weed have a distinctive smell (love or hate like marmite!)
For SOUND: larger bushes or trees like pines or birches, bamboo, honesty (has beautiful moon-like pods for added interest), long grass and flowers that attract some buzzing bumblebees and berries for chirping birds!
For more information here are some links we found online and recommended by the group:
Some photos of the plants mentioned above: