Take 5: Gardening For The Senses

Modern urban areas are a mixture of concrete, steel, glass, and asphalt. The human senses are assaulted by exhaust odors, car horns, and traffic congestion. In some places, the buildings are so tall they block the sun. In other areas, there is so much asphalted open space that there is no shade and the heat is overwhelming. It can leave you feeling as dead as the grass during an icy winter. Where can you go to bring your senses back to life?

Gardens Restore and Refresh Your Body and Senses

The human brain needs daily stimulation. Without this stimulation, the brain functions deteriorate. No matter a person's age, continued sensory stimulation keeps the brain and body more active and healthy. The 5 senses of sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch are the ways the body takes in this stimulation. By creating a garden that focuses on these five senses, you're creating a peaceful place to protect and support your health, while benefiting the environment too!

What to Include in a Sensory Garden

Take a trip to your local plant nursery and take a moment just paying attention to your senses. What do you see? What can you hear? What do you smell? It makes you feel more alive doesn't it? Now, take a cue from those senses and create the same experience at home.

First, when planning any garden, don't go in blindly. Decide where you want to plant and how much you want to spend. Before going to the nursery, know basic information such as:

  • how large you want your garden
  • how much maintenance you want to do
  • what type of soil your area has (clay, sandy etc.)
  • how well water drains in the area
  • how much sunlight the area receives daily

Knowing this information will allow the nursery staff to give you expert guidance on which plants will be best suited for your home. They can also suggest improvements or amendments that will make your garden healthier and easier to manage.

When you go to the nursery, it's great to have a general idea and plan for what you'd like to include. Be open to change and suggestions. Sometimes the plants you'd like to choose are unavailable due to demand or season, or are not recommended for your area. This is where the staff of the nursery are a great asset. Let them know you are planting for the 5 senses and they can make suggestions.

Some things to consider to help you decide what to include in your sensory garden are:

  1. Sight: bright, muted, and contrasting colors, movement
  2. Sound: water features, birds and wildlife, insects, wind chimes, rustling leaves
  3. Taste: fruits, berries, vegetables, herbs
  4. Smell: herbs, highly scented flowers (rose, honeysuckle, gardenia etc) and some evergreen trees
  5. Touch: varying textures of plants and ground covers, garden furniture in concrete, natural wood, and metals

By creating your own sensory garden, you have a place to come home to and relax, escape the modern world, and restore your body and senses.