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Healing Sensory Gardens

healing sensory garden's experts

Editorial Team's picture

Editorial Team

What is a sensory garden? It is a green space where the particular environment stimulates senses so much that special sensations and emotions arise in those who are visiting it. In this place sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste guide us to discover the world around us finding a particular harmony with nature and with the external environment. A garden can stimulate our physical and psychological well-being leading us to make a sensory journey and to discover the pleasant environment around us, but it also becomes a kind of inner journey allowing us discover our inner life, stimulating our senses and producing pleasant and relaxing emotions.  

sensory garden - therapy

How can it be? In sensory gardens nothing is left to chance and also the shadow and the sounds are meticulously designed.

The shadow and the light, the water and materials, the noise of the environment and of the creatures that inhabit it, the colours and scents of flowers and herbs, the taste of the fruit, are all elements to consider in this type of projects, so far especially developed in North America and Northern Europe .

Studies carried out in these countries have been detected as sensory gardens have real therapeutic effects, especially in people with disabilities, producing positive effects on their physical and psychological rehabilitation. Sensory gardens can be beautiful places where to relax, reflect, meditate, contemplate and discuss.

Therefore, consider the possibility to create it in your own garden. It is not an impossible job. Just follow some tips. As a matter of fact, it is extremely important to choose the colour of flowers, the aromatic essences of plants and shrubs, the shape of the garden, the texture of leaves and bark. The use and sequence of spaces, the function assigned to each plant or piece of furniture, the design of the garden in compliance with the cycle of seasons, are all elements to be taken into account.

Here are a number of curiosities and information necessary to explore more closely how a sensory garden is made.


The Sight in a Sensory Garden

sensory garden - colours

The benefits of colour therapy are well-known, and are therefore exploited in various contexts, from everyday life to rehabilitative situation.

For this reason the choice of flowers and plants is also based on the basis of their colour:

  • red, orange and yellow (liveliness and joy ) ;
  • white, blue and lilac (relaxation , meditation and peace ) ;
  • green (reflection , meditation and balance ) .

The colour is one of the key features of a sensory garden. It can be used to create a particular atmosphere and perception of space. Take the time of day and the seasons into account. Typically you can opt for one of these following choices:

Contrasting colours combined together can create interesting solutions:

  • chromatic harmony (colours that are closer on the color wheel) ;
  • colour temperature (distinction between warm and cool colors) ;
  • chroma (colour intensity).

Remember that not only flowers but also the bark and foliage of trees and plants do contribute to create different combinations of colour.

Among the plants which are characterized by colurful leaves there are :

  • Acacias (color from dark green to glaucous ) ;
  • Cordyline (red) ;
  • Grasses (Poa Stipa and Festuca glauca) ;
  • Deciduous species ( Melia and Maple ;
  • Bromeliads ( ariety of colors).



The Touch in a Sensory Garden

sensory garden - touch

In order to stimulate the sense of touch, it is very important to choose plants that have a particular consistency. To this aim, plants such as Eucalyptus that can have both a smooth and rough bark are very useful. Here a list of some of the most interesting plants for their consistency:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Gordonia axillaris
  • succulent plants
  • Lagerstroemia
  • Melaleuca.

Other plants instead are interesting for the presence of pods, flowers or seeds and between these there are :

  • Banksia robur
  • Banksia serrata
  • Casuarina
  • mosses
  • Callistemon
  • Pelargonium.

It is also very relaxing to walk barefoot on the grass and on other natural materials such as stones, gravel, sand, bark, and this type of sensory experience is also used in rehabilitative and therapeutic cases.

sensory garden is also characterized by special shapes. The spaces in fact have a very important role to ensure that the person feels completely involved and perceives the space around. Trails, borders, plants and flower beds can help us to give different shapes to our garden.

There are no preferences with regard to the shape you want give to you sensory garden, it can be both linear and geometric, soft and sweet or edgy and square.


The Taste in a Sensory Garden

sensory garden taste

Surely even the palate can find pleasure in the discovery of a green space.

That is why it is important to include in our sensory garden edible ornamental plants such as:

  • lettuce
  • shallot
  • beet
  • rhubarb
  • Syzygium (Cloves)
  • silver beet.


The Smell in a Sensory Garden

sensory garden - smell

We cannot forget the important aromatic plants that apart from being useful for cooking and spicing foods, have flowers or scented foliage.

Among the main aromatic plants most suitable for a sensory garden are:

  • mint
  • marjoram
  • thyme
  • lavender
  • rosemary
  • nasturtium.
  • In addition to herbs you can plant shrubs and even aromatic trees such as:
  • Viola Odorata
  • Species of Gardenia
  • Species of Eucalyptus
  • Species of Prostanthera
  • Backhousia Citriodora (lemon scented myrtle)
  • Eriostemon Myoporoides
  • Darwinia Citriodora
  • Heliotrope
  • Murraya Paniculata
  • Tulbaghia
  • Plumeria Rubra
  • Leptospermum Petersonii (Lemon Scented Tea Tree).


The Sound in a Sensory Garden

sensory garden

Install a water source that will host water plants and bright fish but remember to install a mesh on the water surface to protect children. If a sunken pond is not a possible solution, an elevated basin or other water source will be perfect. Plants attracting birds and butterflies include Bottle Brush, Lavender and Hebe varieties.


Designing a Sensory Garden for Our Senses

sensory garden design

The sensory garden should be designed to be interactive and accessible. Think about the people who will use the garden and take into account their age and skills when developing its design. Provide appropriate seating in the garden. For example, arm rests are essential for elderly users.

For children, include a sandbox in a shaded area. Bright flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables to pick also encourage children to play in the garden.

Use trees and creeping plants to hide visually unattractive areas. Finally, Consider the view from the interior of the house.

Sat, 05/10/2013 - 17:25
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