A sensory garden is a special environment created to stimulate senses with the help of herbs, plants, and implementation of various materials which engage people’s senses. This type of garden is extremely beneficial for children and adults, as well as those with autism and dementia.
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The combination of aromas, colors, and landscape allows for encouraging sensory play that is a perfect way to improve or develop senses.
Sensory gardens can be filled with amazing things to feel and touch, such as the following:
- Delicate flowers in places that are hard to reach and sturdy plants which can be touched and handled;
- Plants of various structures, both small and big with furry or smooth, green or colorful, fleshy or petite leaves;
- Trees and plants close to the walkways to make the visitors mantled by foliage;
- Different textures used in the garden: small pebbles, bigger rocks, etc.;
- Sunny and shady places for the temperature contrast.
Smelling flowers or crushing petals and leaves in your hands may provoke memories and enrapture the senses. The recommendations for a sensory garden aimed at inducing the sense of smell include:
- Flowers with delicate and subtle aromas, for example, violets;
- Aromatic herbs among which can be thyme, mint, or rosemary planted at the edges of the walkways or in places of rest. The scent of lavender helps overcome anxiety.
However, these plants need to be placed at significant intervals to avoid the overwhelming mixture of all the scents in one place.
The wind softly blowing through the leaves of the trees, the sound of water in an artificial pond or waterfall, crunching pebbles under the feet, the note of rustling grass and singing of birds are the examples of sounds which can disguise the outside noise and enhance senses.
Birds can be encouraged into the garden with the help of plants that produce nectar or birdbaths and make it an inviting and friendly place to be in.
Different shapes, colors and other features are responsible for creating a special visual environment. Things people like to look at and enjoy in a sensory garden include the following:
- Varieties of mixed plants with colorful foliage. The colors can be restful, energizing or something in the middle, seasonal and soft;
- The contrast of varying shapes and sizes of plants which can be grouped together in one place;
- Water feature with small bright fish and plants with benches installed nearby;
- Birds and butterflies attracted to the garden by greenery and flowers;
- Special items that improve the overall design and add to its authenticity and appealing look.
The garden of senses can be filled with small fruit and/or nut trees, aromatic herbs, and edible flowers. Moreover, vegetables may be grown there too for the delight of tasting something home-grown. But this mainly refers to small private gardens.
Sensory-Rich Experience for Children with Disabilities
Such gardens serve as a special adventure for children with disabilities, especially if creative activities are included. They help improve communication, develop social skills, provide a desire to explore the world around and build confidence.
Focus on Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Studies have shown that nature-based activities combined with mindfulness may ease the symptoms of dementia.
Sensory Gardens at Schools
They are a perfect way to influence the behavior of children with special education needs: encourage social skills and communication, improve motor skills, enhance creativity, reduce aggression and stress and stimulate sensory awareness.