How to create a sensory garden
The silky petals of a fragrant pink shrub rose; the crunchy texture of a gravel path; a nook where grass rustles and a stream runs. What we smell, see, hear, touch and taste can make a garden walk a wonderful sensory experience.
If you're designing a garden, consider creating one that's a feast for one, several or all of the senses. For a sensory garden, consider two things: your area's hardiness zone and which senses you want to focus on. Think about what attracts you to a garden. Is it mostly the scents, or is it the visuals? Perhaps you're moved by how elements in a garden sound. Or are you a tactile person who likes to touch every plant, rock and tree?
Sight: A swath of cool blues, purples and whites provides a soothing, tranquil atmosphere. Warm yellows, oranges and reds are more energetic. Varieties of green — pines, grasses, ornamental shrubs — can bring a Zen vibe to the garden. You may want to add some artistic elements as well, especially if you have small children: hanging ribbons or mobiles, or ornamentals that attract wildlife. Consider bee balm, red columbine, lantana and trumpet vine to draw hummingbirds. Echinacea, buddleia, black-eyed susan, Joe Pye weed, coreopsis and violets will call the butterflies.
Touch: Consider plants with an interesting feel. Fuzzy lamb's ears, soft mosses and succulents, cottony silver sage, prickly or spiky thistles, broom, conifers and other trees with intriguing bark. For the hardscaping, you'll want pebbles, stones or gravel, or a padded path of grass, fine mulch or sand. A metal bench that warms in the sun and cools in the shade provides additional tactile interest, as does fencing, and vessels made of textured or smooth materials.
Sound: Put seating near rustling grasses or hard-stemmed plants like bamboo that make knocking noises in a breeze. Deciduous tree leaves whoosh, and pine trees whisper. A little portable trickling fountain makes even a small garden feel grounded in nature; a water feature of any sort will likely attract songbirds and small animals or reptiles. A wind chime may play a tune in the slightest breath of air.
Taste: Plant edibles like nasturtiums, mint, pansies and berries that can be eaten right off the bush as visitors walk your garden.
Smell: Jasmine, geranium, rose, honeysuckle, gardenia, lavender. If your zone allows for one or two of these heady scents, you'll have a featured performer in your sensory garden. Herbs like lemon balm, thyme and peppermint are aromatic and easy to grow. Consider blending scented plants like chocolate cosmos and mock orange; pineapple sage and vanilla-scented clethra; curry plant and ornamental pine or cedar. Night bloomers like tuberose, moonflower, white nicotiana, and peacock orchid have intense perfumes that give the evening garden a chance to perform.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man in critical condition after Manchester shooting
- Mon City man killed in WWII honored in Holland
- Washington’s Shelton grows into big role, looks forward to draft
- NASA head tells Pitt grads their generation will ‘walk the face of Mars’
- Allegheny Valley board candidates hold Colfax Elementary fate
- Coach Johnston trying to figure out why Penguins ‘fell off a cliff’
- Protest planned Monday at Plum Borough High School
- Behind starter Liriano, Pirates complete sweep of Diamondbacks
- Injured Penguins optimistic about returning next season
- Traveling amateur organists entertain fellow seniors with oldies music
- Drainage problems believed root of Ridge Road collapse in Harmar