Pharos-Tribune

April 18, 2013

Sensory gardens: Creating a haven for the senses


Associated Press

— The life&style page in today's Pharos-Tribune featured sensory gardens, natural havens for all of your senses. Here are some further ideas on how to create a feast for your sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell.

SIGHT

A swath of cool blues, purples and whites provides a soothing, tranquil atmosphere. Warm yellows, oranges and reds are more energetic. Varieties of green — pines, grasses, ornamental shrubs — can bring a Zen vibe to the garden.

You may want to add some artistic elements as well, especially if you have small children: hanging ribbons or mobiles, or ornamentals that attract wildlife. Consider bee balm, red columbine, lantana and trumpet vine to draw hummingbirds. Echinacea, buddleia, black-eyed susan, Joe Pye weed, coreopsis and violets will call the butterflies.

How is the garden experienced at night? Grace asks.

“Think of white blooms and foliage to reflect moonlight, lights under water with a rippled effect,” she says.

TOUCH

Consider plants with an interesting feel. Fuzzy lamb’s ears, soft mosses and succulents, cottony silver sage, prickly or spiky thistles, broom, conifers and other trees with intriguing bark.

For the hardscaping, you’ll want pebbles, stones or gravel, or a padded path of grass, fine mulch or sand.

A metal bench that warms in the sun and cools in the shade provides additional tactile interest, as does fencing, and vessels made of textured or smooth materials.

SOUND

Put seating near rustling grasses or hard-stemmed plants like bamboo that make knocking noises in a breeze. Deciduous tree leaves whoosh, and pine trees whisper.

A little portable trickling fountain makes even a small garden feel grounded in nature; a water feature of any sort will likely attract songbirds and small animals or reptiles.

A wind chime may play a tune in the slightest breath of air.

TASTE

Plant edibles like nasturtiums, mint, pansies and berries that can be eaten right off the bush as visitors walk your garden.

SMELL

Jasmine, geranium, rose, honeysuckle, gardenia, lavender. If your zone allows for one or two of these heady scents, you’ll have a featured performer in your sensory garden.

Herbs like lemon balm, thyme and peppermint are aromatic and easy to grow. Consider blending scented plants like chocolate cosmos and mock orange; pineapple sage and vanilla-scented clethra; curry plant and ornamental pine or cedar.

Besides jasmine, Grace suggests Fringe Tree, Lilac and Carolina Jessamine as fragrant botanicals that grow in many zones.

“Low herbs like thyme and oregano in the pathway will give off their aroma when walked upon,” she says.

Night bloomers like tuberose, moonflower, white nicotiana, and peacock orchid have intense perfumes that give the evening garden a chance to perform.

Be mindful of planting them too close to a bedroom window, however, if there are sensitive noses indoors.