When we think of gardens, we usually think of visual spaces. We think of colour, design, and structure. Scent may also be feature, but this is often secondary. Focusing on one or two of the senses can be limiting. Sensory gardens invoke all of the five senses and allow you to enjoy the space in unusual and unexpected ways.
When planning your garden, think about who will be using it. Is it for one person or several? How will the space be used? Who will maintain it and how much time will they be able to spend doing this? The answers to these questions will impact on the design.
If budget allows, consider requesting the services of an expert landscape gardener. He or she can go through the intricacies of creating a garden from scratch. Find inspiration and design ideas from Poynter Landscape and other organisations.
If you’re a novice gardener, then gather as much information and advice as possible before you begin. Think about whether to split the garden into sections or whether to utilise one large area.
Sight is perhaps the easiest part. The trick is to blend this with the other senses. Think about colours and blooming times. Different plants blossom at different times of the year. When choosing your colours, decide whether to go for complementary or harmonious colours. Do you prefer warm or cool tones?
Consider height too. Rather than rows of neat beds, introduce trailing plants and climbers. Use containers, pergolas, and garden walls.
There are numerous ways add sound to a garden. Have you ever sat in a walled yard with no trees and few plants? If you concentrate, you will notice that the acoustics are very different to a mature garden. Sound in a garden is created by the wind. It makes different sounds when blowing through trees and plants.
Begin by introducing some grasses and bamboo. Both are noted for their ability to create sounds. Trees take much longer to grow of course, but it’s good to plan for the future. For more noticeable sounds hang some wind chimes.
Scent is one of the most evocative of the senses and can transport us back in time. Most flowers and plants provide some scent, but some more than others. Flowers known for their scent include gardenias, clematis, lilies, stocks, roses, and honeysuckle. These are just a few.
Plant edibles in your garden to entice the taste buds. Well-known options are strawberries, mint, and blackberries. Or be a little more adventurous by introducing edible flowers.
When choosing your plants, consider texture to stimulate the sense of touch. Think about bark, moss, grass, and leaves. Combine touch and scent by including plants that release scent when their leaves are rubbed. Examples include bergamot, lemon balm, and lavender.
When you begin creating your sensory garden, interesting things will happen. You will find that you become more mindful and appreciate the little things more. You won’t be able to walk into a garden without sniffing at the plants or trailing your hand through a bed of lavender.
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