First of all, to explain what a sensory garden is. As you can probably guess from the name, a sensory garden is a garden that you can enjoy with all five of your senses, rather than the more usual ones of sight and smell. There are many ways you can utilise all the senses in a garden, and I will cover a few of them before moving on to the benefits of having a garden that you can enjoy with all your senses.
Starting with the easiest to create, we have sight. Even if you only have a very small garden, creating a garden that is pleasing to the eye is actually really easy. To start, get some plain terracotta pots and decorate them in a variety of colours, using paint. This is a really fun activity, especially if you have children, and you can create really unusual and stunning pots using hand prints that will make beautiful containers for your flowers and herbs. When choosing flowers, the brighter the better, although it is a good idea to start of with relatively hardy types until you are used to gardening!
Speaking of herbs, that brings us nicely on to our next sense often used in a garden: smell. Of course, you can get flowers with a very nice fragrance, but another idea that is also useful is growing your own herbs. Herbs such as lavender, mint, sage and thyme all have a wonderful fragrance as well as having a great taste in dishes, and will look lovely in your home decorated pots.
Thirdly, we have what I consider the most important sense in a garden; taste. Taste is wonderfully easy to get in any garden: there are many types of fruit and vegetable that require very little maintenance and still yield great tasting results. If you have a bit more room and patience, buying some fruit trees might appeal, but for those strapped for room, cash and time then a great plant to grow is lettuce. Other plants that are quick growing include cress, spinach, mustard greens and oriental greens, and in the right conditions within two months of planting you will be able to serve a home grown salad to your friends!
Next, we have touch, a sense with a whole world of ideas to explore. Try growing plants such as Cattails, with their soft, furry heads. A different idea would be to create pieces of artwork from shells or pasta depicting garden scenes and hang them up on fences, or create similar scenes on you plant pots, to create fantastic designs that are unusual and beautiful!
Finally, we have sound, and what a range of possibilities this opens up! Wind chimes create beautiful music, and a water feature can provide a tinkling melody to soothe you whilst you are working in your garden. You can also lay down bird feed, and attract the beautiful sounds of birds, or even install an outdoor plug point and set up a stereo playing gentle nature sounds for while you are out there. If you have children though, you have a ready-made orchestra providing they have the right stimuli, and that can be easily provided with a few instruments such as rain makers and maraca's. With two younger brothers, I am in the enviable position of still being able to be “forced” to go play with them, and trust me there is no sweeter sound than kids laughing!
So, now we have covered just how you can make a sensory garden, its time to start on the benefits. For a start, the process of building and maintaining a sensory garden can bring a family a lot closer together as you work to ensure the success of your crops and to make your garden look, sound and feel beautiful. The joy of overcoming barriers you may face together and then sitting back and enjoying a meal out there, admiring the fruits of your labours is immense and it gives a huge amount of satisfaction.
Secondly, those with children will be able to let their children play out in a safe and stimulating environment, and helping to put the garden together will teach them a lot about different plants and their uses. You will be able to get on with what you need to do whilst your children play in your garden, and they will be able to help you water plants and tend for the garden, which is a great reason to spend quality time together.
A third reason is that a sensory garden provides a wonderful place to work and relax. Working on that particularly stressful assignment won't seem so bad if you are stretched on a garden chair, listening to the sound of wind chimes and perhaps soothing music and catching glimpses of beautiful plants and patterns out of the corners of your eyes! Equally, you will feel even more relaxed if you unwind with a good book and a glass of wine or a pint after a tiring day if you can do it surrounded by the soothing charm of your garden.
It makes your whole house feel good. If you are able to step out into your own slice of paradise, or even better yet open French windows onto it, it will make your house feel lighter and fresher and provide a possibly needed pick-me-up in these gloomy times. A nice garden is an escape from the rest of the world and its worries, and you can just relax, calm down and take a breather before rejoining the constant whirlwind of life!
So there you have it. The wonders and joys of having your very own sense-ational garden, and a few hints and tips on how to make it work for you! Sensory gardens are a wonderful thing, I am lucky enough to have access to one myself and even though it is tiny I wouldn't change it for the world! Hope you have fun making your own, and thank you for reading!