Now the wintery weather is really settling in, here at Alexander John Garden Design, we’ve been exploring some creative ideas and are excited about the enormous potential of sensory gardens for any size of home garden.
About the Sensory Space
A sensory garden is a self contained , stimulating enviroment which can be beneficial for children and adults with disabilities including autism and sensory processing issues, gently stimulating all five senses through the right choice of planting. lighting and features.
Our first consideration would be the location as like any other garden, your sensory space will need a good source of natural daylight to thrive. Next on our list is accessibility for all abilities: we would create a safe non slip paved or resin bound walkway, leading towards a pergola decked with wind chimes or perhaps complimented by the soothing babbling sounds of a water feature, sympathetically lit from underneath.
We would also recommend raised beds for ease and overall low maintenance, either nestling the walkway or arranged around the entire garden. Of course, everyone`s garden should thrill the senses with a mix of colours and scents, but what elements should you include to appeal to those with additional needs? In terms of planting our first choice would have to be the highly scented foliages of Lavender (Lavendula), Rosemary, (Rosemarinus), Mint (Mentha) and Basil (Ocimum) rich scented tapestries reminding you of warmer climes from faraway lands. When rubbed between two fingers a wonderful scent is released. These would be interspersed with grasses such as Carex Bronze form , Miscanthus zebrinus and Briza Media to create an evocative rustling sound. all of these would be within touching distance of a walkway to allow small hands to reach out and feel the leaves as they pass by either on foot or wheelchair.
An inviting and comfortable seating area, perhaps with a table, is always a welcome sight for parents and carers, so we`d incorporate this into our design, using natural materials wherever possible.
Colour is hugely important with reds and yellows being particularly appropriate for those on the autism spectrum for example, with the need to strike a careful balance between energising and restful colours. Our native dogwood provides radiant glow in autumn with crimson coloured stems (Cornus elegantissima), planted in front with white flowering Christmas roses (Helleborus niger). The use of bright yellow can be used to great effect with African and French Marigolds in summer. Bright oranges, reds and yellows are associated with energy and stimulation whereas the cooler colours whites, blues and greens provide a calming effect to the planting. The use of subtle coloured twinkling lights can be stimulating without being overwhelming
Scent, Touch and Taste
There are many other senses that can be considered including touch and feel, Smell including the use of fragrant planting which provides scent from early morning up till dark once the sun has gone down. Taste is useful way of demonstrating where food comes from. However, particularly with children it is important to ensure they remain cautious about unidentified plants.
Book your FREE Sensory Garden consultation
If you would like to discuss how we could create a bespoke sensory garden for your outside space then please contact us here and arrange your FREE appointment.