Author Topic: Sensory garden  (Read 5342 times)

Unwashed

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Sensory garden
« on: May 18, 2010, 09:30:47 »
I've got involved in planning a sensory garden.  Can you suggest some appropriate plants?
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Sensory garden
« on: May 18, 2010, 09:30:47 »

nilly71

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Re: Sensory garden
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2010, 14:53:53 »
I have Lavander, sage and lemon balm. As I walk past the I always brush my hands over them and use the lemon balm for tea.

Neil

irnhed

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Re: Sensory garden
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2010, 15:13:46 »
Definately second the Lavender.  I put it into each area I'm in.  Love the stuff almost as much as the bees do.

We have Lemon Balm at home, and use it in Mojitos in the sunshine.  Oh, happy days.

Rosemary as well - can be strongly scented.  Herbs can also be good for taste, if little bits can be nibbled.  Same with nasturtiums, which are great to look at, and edible.

For the sound side of things, a bamboo would be lovely - but in a container in order to control it.  Other long grasses would be great, gently swishing in the wind.

Also for sound, a fuscia would be great for 'popping' when ready.

For touch, different barks would be interesting (space permitting).  Comparing a smooth birch, with a nobbly ash (can you tell I was on a 'Pole Lathe' woodworking course recently?) would be great.  If not actual trees, then logs that can be place side-by-side for comparison perhaps.  If you dig them in, and place them vertically, you can create an underground habitat for stag beetle larvae as well.

I'd rather be digging my plot

ACE

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Re: Sensory garden
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2010, 16:47:45 »
Is this for the blind? I have a reason for asking as we built a garden for a blind society a few years ago. We were surprised to find most of the blind people were in fact partially sighted and had afflictions like tunnel vision etc. So as well as all the touchy feely, strong scents etc don't forget to put some really strong colours in.

I did a sensory corner in a public park last century. Me being me, I included a streak of danger and put some milk thistle in. People were warned on the opening day and they loved the anticipation of not being in a clinical enviroment.

Spudbash

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Re: Sensory garden
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2010, 16:55:08 »
Funnily enough, I've just got home from my first-ever visit to a hospital therapy garden. My mother is at West Berkshire Community Hospital and the garden there is principally aimed at those with limited mobility. We've spent an hour in the sunshine, my mother in a wheelchair following her recent stroke. We agreed that, for all its lovely features, it would be better with an apple tree.

So I'm thinking that for a sensory garden that could be appreciated by the blind/partially-sighted, apple cordons might be good bet: they fruit at a height at which you can smell the blossom and what could be more sensory than the chance to pluck your own ripe, juicy apple and sink your teeth into it? The fruits swell and ripen over a long period, so there would be the opportunity to stroke them as they grow. I think you'd need varieties that cling to the tree for dear life, rather than dropping off the minute they're ripe, and preferably ones with bright colouration or an interesting texture - ie russets of some kind. I wonder if Brogdale (National Fruit Collections) would advise on suitable varieties?

Looking forward to reading other suggestions..  :)

Unwashed

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Re: Sensory garden
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2010, 19:16:53 »
Thanks for the good ideas, keep them coming.

That's very interesting ACE.  I wouldn't have thought about colour, I'd have just assumed that blind people were blind, but strong colour is a good call.
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grawrc

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Re: Sensory garden
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2010, 19:41:08 »
My husband, who was colour-blind, could only identify yellow with any certainty of getting it right! He did some fabulous paintings where the colour was all wrong but the paintings were totally right!!

I think I would go for touchy-feely plants with different textures interspersed with strongly scented ones like musk rose and honeysuckle, lavender and many of the herbs. Mounds of thyme, marjoram, oregano and annuals like night scented stock. Ace is so right about strong colours too.

I really envy you. It's something I'd love to do myself. .... maybe I will!!

jennym

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Re: Sensory garden
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2010, 23:21:02 »
Am occasionally involved in a garden used by those with impaired senses including stroke affected and very elderly. Part of what I'm trying to do is influence the people with the money to improve facilities so that it can be used more, so you may find it helpful to hear of the problems/successes I've seen.
Paths/grass - paths need to be wide enough to take large wheelchairs, at least a metre wide, with places at least 2 metres wide in intervals to provide passing places. Gentle bends are better than sharp right angles to negotiate. Surfaces need to be flat and hard, slopes, steps, small paviours, cobblestones, grass, bark and gravel are very difficult. Grass lawns are very time consuming in terms of upkeep. All of this applies to entrances and exits too.
If seating areas are provided, leave spaces between seats/by seats for wheelchairs to be positioned, and bear in mind that the person pushing needs access from the rear of the chair, and people need to get past easily.
Water features - can be nice, can be dangerous if folk have mental impairment, can be awkward for folk with incontinence problems (the tinkling sound).
Avoid trees/bushes with large/squashy berries which could fall onto hard surfaces and cause a slipping problem. Avoid poisonous berries, and plants with irritant sap (eg. euphorbia) or irritant leaves (eg. fremontodendron)
Avoid positioning overhanging items that may be a danger at head height - hanging baskets, branches, bird feeders.
Raised beds at hip height can be good for folk to get involved in, I've seen quite elderly folk enjoying dead heading small herbaceous plants grown near the edges, and as has been said, herbs to touch and squeeze and smell.
Bright colours - yes - such as in some primulas, crocosmia, daffs, orange trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), solidago, cosmos, gladioli, penstemon, plox, verbena bonariensis, lavender, rosemary, mint, sage. pansies, violas - all these have been commented on as being very easy to see and some easy to recognise by folks with impaired memory.
Watering may need to be considered, laying in permanent systems can be easier in the long run, and can avoid trailing hoses.
Lighting may need to be considered if the garden is to be used for long hours.
Hope this helps.
Jenny

manicscousers

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Re: Sensory garden
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2010, 07:37:59 »
we were told to colour the bed edges in bright yellow as, apparently, this is the last colour to go  :)

triffid

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Re: Sensory garden
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2010, 07:40:48 »
Jenny, what a fantastic and informative post! Like many people, I've only dabbled in sensory gardening, and you've really opened my eyes to things like the landscaping/paths/seating. Can this info be added to the A4A wiki or something, so it's always easy to find again?

Jenny's already mentioned including highly recognisable plants, such as heartsease: you might be able to create a 'memories' flowerbed - the sight and particularly the scent of flowers known from childhood can be an amazing stimulus for people with dementia and other memory-altering ailments.

Just a few suggestions to spark you off ...  :)
lily-of-the-valley (but planted in a big open-bottomed pot or bucket to contain invasive rhizomes)
forget-me-nots (yes they spread but they're so shallow-rooted that managing them is simple)
scented narcissus
clove-scented pinks
daisies - ox-eye and even the little lawn daisies as a reminder of daisy-chains
primroses and/or cowslips
English bluebells