Spring is upon us and with it brings the natural appeal of the outdoors. When designing a garden a great way to create an adventure for the children is through a Sensory Garden- this is a carefully selected and placed group of plants and accessories that provide experiences for
- And Moving
Whether it’s on a big scale or a smaller scale, sensory gardens are great at stimulating the senses.
It’s design is to encourage users to interact with the plants, often directly, for instance by breaking off leaves to smell or taste. So, all plants must be non-toxic, hardy and sturdy enough to withstand handling. Another reminder is making gardening FUN and that all involved think it is PLAY!
They include plants, water, wind-activated items, sculptures, mirrors, labyrinths and a variety of surface materials.
What are the benefits of having a sensory garden?
There are many benefits to having a sensory garden these include:
- Sensory Development
- Encourages explorative and discovery skills
- Communication and language skills are promoted
- Allows children to engage with the environment
- Promotes the characteristics of effective learning
- Supports cognitive development
- Promotes bodily awareness
Chose plants that are durable enough to withstand frequent brushing or handling. Look for textures in soft flowers, fuzzy leaves, springy moss, rough bark, succulent leaves, prickly seed pods. Various herbs also have great texture and smell great.
Accessories can include rocks and sculptures in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures. Use sculpted handrails for safety and added textures.
Lavender, Rosemary, sage, tarragon, fragrant creeping herbs, such as thyme, are planted along pathways, walking or wheeling on them will release their aroma intense smell like rosemary or peppermint. Rosemary also has a very good texture and in the spring/summer it has tiny pretty purple flowers. All these herbs are great for cooking too!
Roses are a good choice in flowers if you know how to deal with ‘its’ thorny issues’.
Crushing and smelling a plant part works well.
Use plants in all shades of green foliage with various leaf shapes, and different colours of flowers. Choose colourful plants that change through the season offering a new facet with each one.
Mobiles, birdbaths and sculptures can add visual stimuli as well as sunlight and shadows dancing along all surfaces.
Accessories for enhancing visual pleasure include colour floodlights, torches, mirrors, and gazing globes.
You could even try hanging CDs as sun catchers and adding solar lights.
Have herbs like mints and chives to provide both scent and taste opportunities. Cherry Tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, edible flowers, fruit trees and the endless vegetables will offer the taste buds an array of choices.
Courgette also grows a flower and the flower is edible too.
Kids will hear the sound of wind rushing through the leaves, grasses rustling and seed pods of some plants rattling. The eucalyptus tree has a fantastic sound to it because when there is a breeze it almost rattles.
Have non-plant materials (wind chimes, fountain bubbling). Birdsongs will fill the garden if birds baths, bird-attracting plants, bird feeders and birdhouses are provided and maintained. Accessories for bringing sounds to the garden include waterfalls, fountains, water harps and wind chimes.
More Tips and Tricks on how to create one:
- Wind chimes, music and bells are an effective, inexpensive way of introducing sound into a sensory garden.
- Consider the heights of the interactive areas so that all children can enjoy these elements.
- Make stepping stones that include children’s designs and/or handprints, and place them throughout your sensory garden.
Kidsafe sensory garden plant list
Hen and Chicks
Orange Trumpet vine